Copyright rules must benefit artists - not big business

New rules on portability of content must ensure that citizens have free access to culture, all while respecting authors, says Isabella Adinolfi.

Isabella Adinolfi | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Isabella Adinolfi

17 Oct 2016

As a member of the culture and education committee, my approach to copyright law and portability of content has always been very liberal.

I believe that the European Union must be at the forefront of ensuring maximum freedom of movement, dissemination and access to knowledge and cultural content. 

The rules of copyright law, which from a historical point of view are fairly recent, must not constitute an obstacle to the objective being pursued: to promote creative production through the protection of authors and creators, while ensuring the widest possible dissemination of knowledge and cultural content.


When this happens, it means that the system has short-circuited and the objective set has become just an empty slogan to be bandied about, while the real goal to be achieved is another one. 

In this case, the real objective of the so-called cultural industry is represented by the maximisation of profit of the rights holder, with all due respect to authors and creators and all those who really 'make culture'.

The rights of authors are mentioned only instrumentally to justify the maintenance of income positions on the market that no longer make sense, given the opportunities offered by new technologies. 

This, in my opinion, is now an obvious fact which everyone must be made aware of and which must be remedied. Culture must not be considered as a product to sell to those who want to benefit from it, because not everything can be commodified and placed on the market.

If Europe wants to go back to being the cradle of creators, it must modernise the rules of copyright, in the sense of promoting the exchange of ideas and cultural content, by abandoning the idea of the maximisation of profits at all costs. I like to remember that the creative process is driven not only by the idea of making a profit, but often by reasons that transcend monetary or economic ones. 

Also, nobody invents something from nothing, but rather by being influenced by what they read, hear, see, and therefore rules in this restrictive sense would be harmful to authors and creators. If Walt Disney had not had the opportunity to read and copy the tales of the Brothers Grimm, he would not then have invented cartoons like Cinderella.

Therefore, new European regulations are required which take note of the technological advancement and which place the whole EU territory as a geographical reference point. In other words, I agree with the objective stated by the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker of creating a digital singe market. 

I think this is important and it represents a great opportunity both for the future of the European project and for citizens and medium, small and micro-enterprises, which are often launched by young artists.

Rapid technological change means business models must also change; these changes would be easier to implement if there were common rules throughout the EU, which would ensure greater competition on the market. This, in turn, would guarantee greater benefits to consumers, who would be free to move without being discriminated against due to national borders or location.

The aim of the new legislation on portability should therefore be to achieve full portability, and without any kind of restriction which can favour both consumers, as well as authors, creators, and medium, small and micro-enterprises. 

This would represent only an intermediate step towards the realisation of full and complete cross-border accessibility to online content services which will need to be implemented in the digital single market.

Such an approach also seems to me to be fully justified by the technological advancement and content delivery modes, which render certain business models obsolete in the use of rights exclusively in certain parts of the EU.

The Five Star Movement will fight to ensure that culture is free and that ideas, knowledge and cultural content can circulate freely, while protecting those who make culture and not speculators who exploit too much and get rich off the back of authors and creators.