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EU Commissioner: Current business models encourage illegal file-sharing

15 July, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: EU-Kommissarin: bestehende Geschäftsmodelle ermuntern illegales illeg...

On 9 July, during the Ludwig Erhard Lecture 2009 Lisbon Council in Brussels, Viviane Reding, EU telecommunications commissioner, while presenting the proposed strategy for a future digital European society, expressed the idea that present business models lead to the increase of the illegal copyrighted material.

Reding made a presentation of the EU strategy for the so called Digital Europe. In the European Commission's opinion, Europe's digital economy is the answer to the present economic crisis and the citizens aged between 16 and 24 years old, described as "digital natives", represent the "real growth potential for Europe." The Commission believes that with this generation growing older, a greater Internet use has the potential to create around one million jobs in Europe generating 850 billion euro in economic activity.

The Commissioner proposed some short term and medium term measures, the first priority for a five-year term having in view making the access to digital content easier and more attractive.

The Commissioner expressed the EU regret for the present "polarised debate on the matter: While many right holders insist that every unauthorised download from the internet is a violation of intellectual property rights and therefore illegal or even criminal, others stress that access to the internet is a crucial fundamental right. Let me be clear on this: Both sides are right. The drama is that after long and often fruitless battles, both camps have now dug themselves in their positions, without any signs of opening from either side."

Reding considers that the high increase of the illegal downloading on the Internet is largely due to deficiencies in the present business models. While she believes those who breach the law should be penalised, she also thinks that "growing internet piracy is a vote of no-confidence in existing business models and legal solutions. It should be a wake-up call for policy-makers."

Therefore, she considers "a consumer-friendly legal framework for accessing digital content in Europe's single market" should be built in cooperation with other Commissioners and she proposed some concrete measures in this respect.

One possible measure would be to facilitate the licensing of intellectual property rights for online services on the entire EU territory. EU needs a unitary, simpler regulatory framework in this direction as presently, instead of investing in services, online service providers and right holders waste time and money in the management of rights.

Another proposition is the creation of a set of rules encouraging the digitisation of books. "More than 90% of books in Europe's national libraries are no longer commercially available, because they are either out of print or orphan works (which means that nobody can be identified to give permission to use the work digitally). The creation of a Europe-wide public registry for such works could stimulate private investment in digitisation, while ensuring that authors get fair remuneration also in the digital world," said the commissioner who also warned on the fact that digitisation and attractive content offers will take place in the US and not in Europe "if we do not reform our European copyright rules on orphan works and libraries swiftly".

Ms Reding said the European Commission intended to open up a consultation period on the Digital Europe strategy in August.

Brussels claims failed business model is causing online piracy (9.07.2009)

EU Plans Overhaul Of Internet Download Rules (10.07.2009)

Viviane Reding EU Commissioner for Telecoms and Media Digital Europe - Europe's Fast Track to Economic Recovery The Ludwig Erhard Lecture 2009 Lisbon Council, Brussels (9.07.2009)



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