EU AV industry pledges easier cross-border copyright

The audiovisual industry, working with the European Commission, has made a number of pledges designed to overcome problems European citizens may face in four areas: cross-border access and portability of services; user-generated content and micro-licensing; audiovisual heritage and text and data mining.

The pledges came at the conclusion of the Licences for Europe stakeholder dialogue, brokered by the European Commission in Brussels. The dialogue was jointly led by Commissioners Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services), Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda) and Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth), When implemented, these commitments could provide important added value as they could have a real impact on the availability and accessibility of cultural content online.

Pledges include:

  • The audiovisual industry’s joint statement to continue working to gradually offer cross-border portability of audiovisual services. This would make it easier for consumers to legally access films and TV programmes from their home Member State when travelling abroad on holidays or business trips.
  • Multi-territory ;one-click micro-licences’ offered by record companies and authors’ collecting societies for small scale use of music online. This will, for example, make it much easier for those who wish to use music to do so with legal certainty on their own websites or when posting videos to other sites.
  • An agreement by film producers, authors and film heritage institutions on principles and procedures for the digitisation and dissemination of heritage films. This will ensure that many old films which are currently not available online or might otherwise disappear are saved for the future and made available to wider audiences.

Barnier said: “Licences for Europe has proved that stakeholder dialogue can present concrete solutions to the challenges of the Digital Single Market. Initiatives presented today are a fast track to bring more online content to all Europeans. But our work is not over. We want to monitor the implementation of these pledges to ensure they are kept and truly make a difference in real life. And we will make sure that our future policies help share and reward creation in the single market.”

Kroes said: “We need to be pragmatic to make progress in copyright matters, and we see that in today’s results. We are seeing a less polarised debate. If the industry can put these commitments into practice, we will see more incremental progress towards content licensing fit for the digital age. The debates will continue and we now need to look at the role updated legislation could play in delivering further progress.”

Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said: “We have achieved practical solutions which will provide greater certainty for rights-holders, a better deal for the public and more cultural diversity online. The pledge on digitisation of film heritage is great news for film fans in particular and I am glad to see that things are moving forward also on cross-border portability. Our aim is to ensure that European creators and industry develop new content and digital services so our cultural wealth reaches broader audiences and is preserved for future generations.”

“Licences for Europe was an important and helpful exercise. It allowed us to share many of the important initiatives and developments that are already available to European consumers today and highlight some of the new services that will be made available in the future,” said Dragoslav Zachariev, secretary general of EuroVoD.

“This is an industry of innovators. Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking is just as important when it comes to reaching our audiences. We shouldn’t forget that already today, European citizens can enjoy films and television in more ways, on more devices than ever before. There are now over 3000 Video-on-Demand (VOD) services available in Europe according to the European Audiovisual Observatory. Consumer spending on online video transactions has rocketed by more than 2,000 per cent,” said Elisabeth Sjaastad, chief executive of the Federation of European Film Directors (FERA).

“In particular we welcome the European Commission’s commitment not to undermine current business models that support content creation and cultural diversity but rather to promote market driven responses,” stated Benoît Ginisty, director general of the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF).

“We’ll continue to take stock of progress and examine future market developments regarding cross-border portability of lawfully acquired audiovisual content and to engage with the Commission in this respect,” concluded Ross Biggam, director general of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT).

“This is an important initiative that will make licensing simpler for small users by offering a one-stop shop pan-European licence. The discussions held recently with the European Commission as part of their Licences for Europe initiative show how far our industry has come, and how much we have achieved. And the market will continue to develop,”said Frances Moore, CEO of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)

The stakeholder dialogue is one of the two parallel tracks of action the Commission undertook to carry out during its term of office to ensure that the EU’s copyright framework stays fit for purpose in the digital environment. In parallel the Commission is completing its on-going review of the EU copyright legal framework, with a view to a decision in 2014 on whether to table legislative reform proposals. The pledges outlined above and the discussions, including in the areas where no stakeholder consensus emerged, will feed into the review process. A public consultation will be launched in the near future in the context of the review. This will provide a further occasion for all voices to be heard in the debate, and help focus the discussion on the wider set of issues being addressed in the review process.

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