Reform of online copyright management moves forward
By Nathalie Vandystadt | Tuesday 26 June 2012
The agenda is just about set: the draft directive on collective management of copyright is due to be presented in early July. This is the only legislative proposal on copyright that the European Commission plans to present this year.
The draft, which is behind schedule, is meant to adapt EU law to growth in online cross-border music services in a context where it is increasingly difficult to ensure collective management of copyright at the national level alone.
Collective management refers to the practice where creators place management of their rights in the hands of an organisation.
Today, there is a no man’s land in EU law. Online operators must negotiate country by country with national rights management societies to exploit copyrights. As a result, a legal downloading platform like Sweden’s globally successful Spotify is available only in certain countries in Europe: Sweden, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany and Denmark.
Europoliticshas learned that the Commission plans to establish quality criteria, a sort of ‘European passport’ that rights management societies would have to obtain to demonstrate their capacity to issue cross-border licences and to ensure quality licensing. The risk of seeing large national companies given an advantage would be offset by the fact that companies with small repertories could demand that ‘passport’ holders include their content in cross-border licensing possibilities. “It is important to change the framework so that rights management societies cooperate with one another and make common offers to online operators,” commented at a conference in Dijon, France, last year Kerstin Jorna, deputy head of cabinet for Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier.
The reform will also impose greater transparency on rights management societies, particularly in terms of accounting.
Former Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner António Vitorino has been asked by the executive to settle the long-standing conflict on fees for private copying collected in around 20 countries on sales of recording equipment (blank CDs, MP3 players, computers) to make up for lost earnings for authors. The technology manufactures taxed in this way want a comprehensive reform, while rights holders defend the system’s legitimacy.
Vitorino, who is holding multiple meetings with operators in the sector, is understood to have received more than 50 written submissions. He is set to report this autumn. He has been working since April to put together a compromise on payment methods and management of these methods. The Commission will then present a legislative proposal.