The EU copyright rules are currently under review. The European Commission has launched a major public consultation. In the light of this process, GEMA is suggesting 5 ways to make sure that creativity will pay off in the digital age:
1. A reliable European copyright framework
Today, there are significantly more legal online music services available in the EU than in the US. The high level of legal certainty and flexibility provided by the current legal framework is one of the main reasons why so many market-leading services are located in the EU. In this situation, the achieved level of harmonisation in the EU must not be jeopardised by any radical changes of the current system. What is needed right now is the clear political commitment to a strong copyright as a major driver for a flourishing and sustainable digital Single Market for creative content.
2. Facilitating cross-border licensing and cooperation between rights aggregators
The facilitation of cross-border licensing is key for the development of a digital Single Market for creative content. The EU Directive on Collective Rights Management is an important step in this respect. In this context, it has to be made very clear that the territoriality of copyright is not at all an obstacle to cross-border licensing. On the contrary, a single European copyright title would increase the complexity and the fragmentation of the European rights landscape. The best way to overcome rights fragmentation is cooperation between collective management organisations and other rights aggregators. This cooperation must be promoted and facilitated.
3. Private copying is a key element of the digital economy
In the digital environment, private copying is more relevant and more widespread than ever before. The private copying exception provides consumers with the possibility to freely and legally make private copies of protected content on various devices under a framework that respects their privacy. The compensation for this possibility is not only fair, it also provides an important economic incentive for authors to keep creating new quality content that new digital business models and device manufacturers depend on.
4. A level playing field for strong authors’societies
Authors’ societies represent an important market counterweight to commercial rights users in the right holders’ interest. In the digital age, collective rights management is more important than ever to ensure a fair remuneration of authors. By enabling even the smallest and least popular repertoires to access the market at equal conditions, authors’ societies play a crucial role in the promotion of cultural diversity. When it comes to the implementation of the Directive on Collective Rights Management, Member States should focus on the creation of a real level playing field for all authors’ societies and other rights managers operating in Europe.
5. Respect for authors’ rights
Any future approach on enforcement should focus on the role of digital service providers that are benefitting from the exploitation of copyright protected works. In a converging and increasingly connected online environment the current liability regime of digital service providers, established in 2000 by the E-Commerce Directive, is not differentiated enough. It is of utmost importance that such service providers, who draw commercial benefits from the exploitation of unlicensed content assume their liability for properly rewarding authors for the use of their works.
Harald Heker is the CEO of GEMA. He speaks at the “Authors’ rights: What’s next on the European agenda?” session this Monday, (February 3, 10.00-11.30, Audi K), with Jean Michel Jarre (CISAC), Jean-Noël Tronc (Sacem) and more. Don’t miss it!