Thursday 27 August 2015

Another consultation from Brussels- anyone for SatCab?

In case anyone [other than the author] was under the impression that the European Commission closes entirely for August and goes en masse on holiday, you are mistaken.

Just to keep us on our toes, the Commission has this week published the latest in a series of consultations arising out of its Digital Single Market initiative (which Eleonora previously covered on 1709 here as well as on the IPKat here).

This time, the topic on the card is 1993's SatCab Directive, or to give it its full title "Directive 93/83/EEC of 27 September 1993 on the coordination of certain rules concerning copyright and rights related to copyright applicable to satellite broadcasting and cable retransmission"

It is, like last year's copyright consultation, a "fill in the box" online questionnaire - the latter, you will recall, created a torrent of thousands of responses generated by interest groups, especially from the "anti-copyright" community.

This topic is likely to be of much more limited interest, focusing as it does on practical experience arising out of the existing Directive.  However, it too has potentially broad implications.

The first part looks at the two core existing sets of provisions in the Directive, first the principle of country of origin for the communication to the public by satellite, then the management of cable retransmission rights.

However, the latter part of the questionnaire extends into the question of whether it might be possible to extend the "country of origin" principle to cover other types of exploitation beyond satellite - including a number of different scenarios:

  • "TV and radio transmissions by other means than satellite (e.g. by IPTV, webcasting)"
  • "Online services ancillary to initial broadcasts (e.g. simulcasting [note to Brussels - precisely how is this something different from the first category of TV and radio transmissions by other means..."], catch-up TV).
  •  Any online services provided by broadcasters (e.g. video on demand services [note to Brussels - is that video on demand services other than catch-up which is in category 2?]).
  • Any online content services provided by any service provider, including broadcasters. [so a VOD service provided by a broadcaster is to be considered different from one provided by a cable operator which is different again from one provided by an internet only business like Netflix... as a matter of copyright?]

As indicated by the asides above, this blogger has some concerns about whether the Commission will be able to define the way forward, given that it appears to have a limited understanding of the technologies involved in modern audiovisual world.   

The Commission also asks some questions which are potentially fiendishly complex, such as "How would the "country of origin" be determined in case of an online transmission? Please explain."

Well now is your chance to influence them and answer all of these questions... the questionnaire (in English, French and German) can be found from this introductory page.

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