Industry Groups Urge European Commission To Back Strong Copyright In Upcoming DebatePublished on 3 December 2012 @ 10:15 pm
By William New, Intellectual Property Watch
Groups representing European publishers, writers and collective management organisations are urging the European Commission to support their interests as it considers initiatives on copyright policy this week. The groups asked the Commission to back stronger copyright and resist calls for greater exceptions and limitations to copyright.
At the initiative of European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, the EU College of Commissioners are scheduled to hold a debate on 5 December on copyright in the digital economy, focussing on this document [pdf]. The document lays out the debate as such:
“The creative industry in general underlines the importance of copyright for ensuring remuneration of their work and providing the incentives to produce content. Others argue that, in its present form, it may be an obstacle to innovation and growth. Citizens increasingly voice concerns that copyright laws hinder what they view as their freedom to access and use content.”
“Businesses increasingly argue that the current copyright model is a barrier to developing the business models they consider necessary for the digital economy. These consumers and businesses agree, for different reasons, that copyright rules have to be made more flexible and their views were a major factor in the rejection of ACTA. The growth of Pirate Parties in some Member States is another indicator of this trend.”
The 7-page Commission document for discussion addresses the internet value chain for content, the EU copyright framework, and other issues.
Meanwhile the European Writers Council (EWC), the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) and the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO) urge that nothing be done that would harm their businesses or the European publishing industry.
The groups issued their concerns in a letter to Barroso, in which they said they “wish to ask for your support for a policy to maintain the current strong position of the European publishing industry, with the view to allow us to strengthen it even further. To this end we request that you back Commissioner Michel Barnier’s approach in his initiative ‘Licensing Europe’.”
“A policy to broaden exceptions and limitations, including for education and libraries, would jeopardise the income of authors and publishers and, consequently, have a negative impact on their competitiveness and ability to invest in innovative new products,” the groups said.
They said that they offer pan-European licensing, that they keep innovating in information technologies and business models to improve licensing, and that they have shown willingness to work with other stakeholders to develop new solutions when needed.
In addition, the International Authors’ Forum has circulated a petition to be sent to legislators highlighting the importance of creators’ right to remuneration. The petition, with well over 6,000 signatures, was posted by the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA), a collective management association.
“It is hard to imagine an author wanting to prevent his work, film, book, music from being seen, recommended or discussed by the public,” the petition says. “It is however easy to imagine that convenience of the digital solution might pose a threat to this particular human right (art.27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights): the author’s right to receive compensation whenever exploitation is made of his/her work.”
[Update:] IFRRO’s comments on the Commission paper are now available here [pdf].
[Further Update:] An opposing view by a large group of non-governmental organisations seeking more flexibility in EU copyright law was submitted in a letter to the commissioners, here.
William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.