EC public consultation of Creative Content Online
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On 3 January 2008, the European Commission (EC) launched a public consultation for the preparation of a recommendation on Creative Content Online to be adopted by the European Parliament and Council that calls for a common legal environment for online content, proposing multi-territory licences.
In the opinion of the European Commission, EU policies should support the rapid implementation of "new services and related business models for the creation and circulation of European content and knowledge online."
As a result of the public consultation on "Content Online in the Single Market" launched by the EC in July 2006, there were several calls for the encouragement of the cooperation between industry, right holders and consumers on issues such as DRMs or Content Online as well as for financial support and promotion of DRMs interoperability standards. An independent study "Interactive Content and Convergence" that followed the consultation in 2006 gave an overview of the issues to be addressed for the development of new content services in the EU.
Based on the results of the consultation and of the study, the Commission proposes in the newly launched consultation four main horizontal directions of action at EU-level: availability of creative content; multi-territory licensing for creative content; interoperability and transparency of DRMs; and legal offers and piracy.
Some concerns have been expressed by digital media rights activists such as the EDRI-member Open Rights Group (ORG) who believe that the EC plan goes beyond copyright, and that consumer rights could be affected by it. "Looking at some of the details of the European Commission consultation document it seems to be that they are proposing a lot more than just a cross Europe licensing scheme. (...) There is stuff here about transparency and interoperability in digital rights management systems, there is stuff about codes of conduct between internet service providers and rights holders to encourage legal access and discourage unauthorised file sharing." stated Becky Hogg, executive director of ORG.
However, the EC opinion is that all the different national copyright laws and other intellectual property rights are holding back the film, music and game industries. "Europe's content sector is suffering under its regulatory fragmentation, under its lack of clear, consumer-friendly rules for accessing copyright-protected online content, and serious disagreements between stakeholders about fundamental issues such as levies and private copying," was the EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media,Viviane Reding's statement.
DRM seems to fade out, after Sony BMG announced at the beginning of 2008 that it plans to give up to DRM for its music, thus becoming the last of the top four music labels to throw the towel on this subject. But the EC consultation paper wants to put it back in business, planning "a framework for DRM transparency concerning, amongst others, the interoperability of different DRMs, and ensuring that consumers are properly informed of any usage restrictions placed on downloaded content, as well as of the interoperability of related online services."
The consultation closes on 29 February 2008 following which, by the middle of 2008, Reding will make formal recommendations on new ways to achieve a single online content market for 500 million potential consumers, predicted to be worth 8.3 billion euros by 2010 by the study on "Interactive content and convergence" commissioned by Information Society and Media Directorate-General of the European Commission and published on 25 January 2007.
Commission consultation: the need for pan-European copyright licences
Single European market plan for creative online content (4.01.2008)
Communication from the Commission on Creative Content Online in the Single
Commission adopts strategy for "Creative Content Online" (3.01.2008)
Sony BMG Plans to Drop DRM (4.01.2008)
EDRi-gram: Creative content online - main topic in new EC documents