EC’s Kroes: SOPA, PIPA pause ‘right thing’

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, has supported the decision by US legislators to put a hold on the contentious SOPA and PIPA bills and seek a better anti-piracy solution. She also confirmed that the Commission would present a European ‘Cloud’ Strategy, as well as issuing a paper on meeting the challenges of Connected TV.

Delivering a keynote speech on ‘Creativity for the Creative Sector: Entertaining Europe in the Electronic Age’ at the European Parliament Intellectual Property Forum, Kroes noted that recent consultation on maximising opportunities in the digital era had highlighted the fact that many people were concerned about issues of illegal content. “And I agree with them that we need to push people away from piracy towards legal content. Sites that knowingly enable massive copyright infringements and make large sums of money at the expense of creators need to be stopped,” she declared.

“As regards legislation to combat piracy, I have said on a number of occasions that we should not put in place disproportionate and highly intrusive measures with the potential to disrupt legitimate online activities. Therefore I think the US legislators have done the right thing by making a pause and seeking a better anti-piracy solution than the SOPA and PIPA bills which were on the table,” she stated.

She admitted that the EC needed to do much more in its quest for the European Digital Single Market, to generate more growth and jobs, to better reward and recognise creators and to offer a better deal to European consumers. “There is still work to be done to facilitate cross border licensing and ensure transparency, but my colleague Michel Barnier is working hard on that,” she advised.

“That is positive: we have provided a better digital offer, and we have shown that people are willing to pay for it. Last year, for the first time since 2004, overall music sales were up: and that was thanks to digital. Digital downloads soared 17 per cent to 3.6 billion, and the number of paying subscribers 65 per cent to over 13 million,” she noted.

She noted the role that cloud computing was playing in facilitating growth in availability and choice of content, as well as facilitating new business models. “In the Cloud era, with just an Internet connection, you can access and provide content: wherever you are, through whatever device best suits you at the time. And all of it legally,” she pointed out.

“Before the Summer, I intend to present a European Cloud Strategy in which we will assess all possible obstacles for the Cloud to enable a flourishing business for content, both for providers and right-holders,” she advised.

Noting that within just two to three years, 90 per cent of the TVs sold in Europe would be connectable to the Internet, Kroes said that during the year, the EC would be coming forward with a paper on Connected TV. “It will consider how Europe can realise the opportunities – and of course, how it can meet challenges too. For example: can we preserve the integrity of broadcasting signals? How would competing but incompatible technical standards affect the viewer experience? How will our traditional rules on advertising, protection of minors and promotion of European works apply? We want to ask these questions, and make sure we are ready to let this market flourish,” she suggested.

“We don’t have all the answers yet. But I want to find them out: and so we will be talking to stakeholders — users, producers and regulators — so that Europe can truly hook up to the Connected TV ecosystem,” she concluded.

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