EU Online Copyright Bill Coming; Publishers Debate DRMs 09/12/2007 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)By William New BRUSSELS – European publishers and copyright holders have a friend in European Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding, which she reinforced last week in describing efforts to push through a new bill on digital publishing copyrights. At the same event, publishers and cutting-edge US technology company SecondLife debated IP issues such as the problems of digital rights management for protecting copyrights. “Copyright is a cornerstone of the information and knowledge-based society,” Reding told the 6 December European Publishers’ Forum. “This is why I introduced in the new framework an appropriate balance between ownership and access.” “This is a concrete legal endorsement of the role of copyright and I hope it will send a signal across the whole industry at a critical time,” she said. The electronic communications package, which she has spent weeks promoting, aims to create a new regulatory framework will encourage competition among online services provided by print media, book publishers and the database industry, she said. “With the telecom package, I want to support competitiveness, innovation and creativity,” Reding said. “It is the first time that an electronic communications package includes specific requirements for network operators and users to respect copyright law.” Reding added: “People don’t buy technology, they acquire contents and services. Therefore, the new rules contain references concerning compliance with national measures implementing the Copyright Directive and the Enforcement Directive. Moreover, the Universal Service Directive says that member states shall ensure that subscribers to electronic communications services or networks are clearly informed in advance of their obligations to respect copyright and related rights and of the most common acts of infringements and their legal consequences.” In her speech she also said the European Commission would in the coming weeks adopt a communication on media literacy in the digital environment that will focus on how Internet search engines work and help users to critically assess online content. This appears to include an emphasis on respect for copyrights. She said she would ask member states to support the communication by organising events in 2008 on the exchange of good practices. The Commission could follow with a recommendation on the issue, which she said will be a priority for the Slovenian presidency of the EU coming beginning 1 January. Reding also gave support to an open standard project called the Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP), developed by publishers to allow them to control what is identified by Internet search engine robot “crawlers.” In addition, Reding chastised publishers for so far failing to fully adapt their business models to reach across borders and industry sectors at a time when the Internet has changed the business dynamic. “It seems the convergent European publisher has not been born yet,” she said. She said the Commission plans to play a catalyst role in this through a “communication on creative content online in the single market,” which will generate business negotiations and improve legal certainty. Reding also said publishers face a big challenge in determining how to generate revenues in the digital age, and that most news and magazine publishers still earn less than 5 percent of revenues from new media, though this should double in the next year. Finally, Reding stressed the importance of protecting the rights of journalists. SecondLife Exec Bashes DRMs Cory Ondrejka, chief technology officer at online society SecondLife, told publishers that opportunities exist for copyrighted products there but that digital rights management (DRM) could be a hindrance. On SecondLife, users retain the intellectual property rights over things they create, and all users have the tools to create such as in games, art and music, he said. But Ondrejka tied innovation to the cost of learning, and this cost is driven up as access to knowledge goes down, which is a by-product of technological restrictions on information flows in order to protect copyrights. “As people get used to working across different environments, there’s one thing that’s going to slow us down,” he said, referring to DRM. “DRM by its design increases the cost of learning. It impedes people’s ability to learn.” Ondrejka said that online environments are encouraging innovation and help maximise connections between cultures, and that publishers and creators have increasing opportunities to influence that. The largest representation of SecondLife users is from Europe, about 40 percent, followed by the United States at about 33 percent, he said. Takeup of SecondLife is highest where high-speed Internet access predominates, he said. Publishers Highlight IP Issues In panel discussions during the meeting, a number of publishers addressed IP issues. Ronald Schild, CEO of German book marketer and publisher MVB, said the biggest challenge for industry is to reconcile the needs of the copyright holder with the public right to get information, and “not make the same mistake as the music industry” by using DRM. Publishers are working with models, such as allowing free access to portions of text, but said there is a need to be “user-friendly.” Stephanie van Duin, director of business development at Hachette Books, also said the publishing industry needs to learn from “what happened to the music industry.” She stressed the importance of allowing consumers to move across technological platforms. Publishers who were asked did not seem to view online bookseller Amazon.com’s new wireless book reading technology Kindle as potentially disruptive. “I do not think Kindle will be the book killer,” Schild said. Panellists also covered the rise of “multiplatforms” by which content is used across different media, transforming traditional media outlets. Mario Tascon, director general for content at Spain’s PrisaCom, which publishes stalwart El Pais, said Internet and newspaper are two totally different media. He made a comparison with the introduction of radio, when it was first thought that newspapers should be read over the radio as a way to take advantage of the new technology. Publishers generally insisted that print would survive for the foreseeable future. David Hanger, president of the European Federation of Magazine Publishers and former publisher of The Economist, said readers have an irreplaceable love for magazines. Tomasz Jozefacki, director of the Internet division at Polish publisher Agora, described the company’s expansion into new growth areas on the Internet such as blogs (the company’s blog has about 100,000 new entries every day), and a social network. Several publishers said distinctions are made between what is news and what is said in online chats, but that both are important and interesting to readers. Claude Droussent, editorial director at l’Equipe, said the company also has expanded to “all kinds of media.” He gave an example of responsiveness to readers that during next year’s Beijing Olympics it will be impossible to tell readers to wait until the next day’s morning daily print version to obtain information about developments that have ended many hours earlier. He said his company’s motto is “one media, one content,” so that journalists must learn to use and produce for all types of output. Andrew Moger, founder of the News Media Coalition, said there has been an “upheaval” over access of journalists to events, which led to the group’s formation. Reding predicted that even in the technological changes and flood of information that is occurring, there will remain some distinction between types of journalists and that readers will always look back to professional journalists for reliable information in the end. But it was repeatedly said at the meeting that advertising is evermore critical for the survival of publishers as online subscriptions and other methods of raising revenues have mixed results. “The Internet is becoming more and more free, so advertising is becoming almost the sole source of revenue,” said Pedro Norton, CEO and publisher of Impresa Jornais. Kees Spaan, vice president of the European Newspaper Publishers’ Associations and president of the Dutch newspaper association, said that without advertising there would be no newspaper. He harshly criticised Internet search engines like Google and Yahoo for giving away newspapers’ content without partnering with the publishers to ensure they are properly paid. But Jean-Christophe Conti, European vice-president for search marketing at Yahoo, encouraged publishers to put their content free online and to make partnerships with search engines so all can benefit from big advertisers. Spaan said his company was not approached for a partnership before its content was used. Spaan also said companies even have to wrestle with institutions, like those of government, that purchase one subscription and then send copies around to all of their staff, without having arranged it through a licensing agreement. “I’m afraid even serious journalism is at risk,” he said. Spaan’s suggestion was to have “very strong copyright protection.” But Fred Friend, a representative of United Kingdom university libraries, noted that copyright “largely protects the rights of publishers not creators,” and that academics regularly “sign away all their rights” in order to get published. He called for a greater balance of payment. Reding replied that the Commission is looking at digital libraries, and having talked with different actors is “moving to make changes in that very specific area.” But she added, “I do not promise big solutions.” William New may be reached at email@example.com. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "EU Online Copyright Bill Coming; Publishers Debate DRMs" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.