EU should adopt a market-led approach to copyright

Written by Therese Comodini Cachia on 2 November 2015 in Opinion
Opinion

Updating copyright laws means striking a balance between the creative sector's competitiveness and ensuring easy access to content, writes Therese Comodini Cachia.

Creativity, cultural diversity and innovation could be Europe's greatest tools for economic and social growth. But copyright protection is essential.

Ineffective enforcement of copyright law undermines incentives for the creation and distribution of European cultural products.

Copyright does not hinder the digital single market strategy; rather it improves consumer and business access to digital goods and services. Nowadays, most users have moved from books and CDs to distribution platforms and networks.


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Nearly 90 per cent of creative businesses are SMEs, key providers of employment. The creative industry is a market-driven sector; if creation does not result in revenues, the sector will not be able to finance new creations. Therefore, rights holders' legitimate interests must be protected to ensure growth in the sector.

A fragmented digital single market limits business opportunities for creators, as well as accessibility to content and services for end users. Consumers in small domestic markets often encounter limited access to goods and services for a higher price than their counterparts in larger markets.

At the same time, some industries working in small markets, or markets identified by cultural factors, need measures to help them retain their competitiveness. This is why completely abolishing geoblocking might cause irreversible damage to specific sectors.

Parliament's role is to strike a balance between enabling users to access services and goods, and generating sufficient benefits to promote Europe's cultural diversity, heritage and creativity. For example, the principle of territoriality should not be abused to limit portability of content.

We should consider a market-led and evidence-based approach, to help improve cross-border portability. But do rights holders really need legislators to identify the mechanisms they should use? Would this truly be a market-led and evidence-based approach? 

We need to distinguish between territorial licensing and portability of content to make end users' rights more effective, while ensuring the creation of content for the enjoyment of these same end users.

However, there are exceptions that should be mandatory, in full respect of shared European priorities. Exceptions for research and education purposes, for example, are desirable.

Another priority is ensuring equality for people with disabilities. This includes making sure they have equal access to creative content.

 

About the author

Therese Comodini Cachia (MT) is Parliament's EPP group shadow rapporteur on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights

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