MEPs told digital single market concerns are 'exaggerated'

Parliament's EFDD group has held an event to explore the intellectual property aspects of the digital single market.

By George Koukoulakis

06 Mar 2015

The European parliament's Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group organised the conference "towards a new legislation on intellectual property in the digital single market", held this week. The event was hosted by Isabella Adinolfi, a member of parliament's culture and education committee (CULT). The Italian MEP is CULT's opinion rapporteur on the own-initiative report of parliament's legal affairs committee (JURI) on the harmonisation of copyright regimes across the EU.

During the conference, academics, experts and consumer and industry representatives presented different aspects of the file, while JURI rapporteur Julia Reda spoke about her draft report and outlined her proposals.

"The legal concerns about [the US 'fair use'] are exaggerated because no real evidence of unpredictability and uncertainty has been found" - Eleonora Rosati

Representatives from the academic community, Giuseppe Mazziotti of trinity college Dublin, Eleonora Rosati of the university of Southampton and Marco Ricolfi of the university of Turi, analysed the current copyright regime under the 2001 'InfoSoc' directive. They stressed the lack of harmonisation of exceptions and limitations across EU member states. The academics highlighted the significant role of the court of justice in the process and explained the need for revisions and updates to the current system. They also attempted to identify ways forward by suggesting the putting in place of an 'open norm' system, similar to the US 'fair use' approach. Rosati said, "The legal concerns about this system are exaggerated because no real evidence of unpredictability and uncertainty has been found."

Agustin Reyna of the European consumer organisation (BEUC) was critical of private copying levies by noting their negative impact on consumers and the market and proposed alternative systems such as licencing and fairer contracts for authors. Innocenzo Genna of EuroISPA, the pan-European internet providers association, explained why internet operators could not contribute to copyright enforcement measures. "The court has confirmed that such measures should respect personal privacy and the freedom of business", he said.

Julia Reda, rapporteur on parliament's dossier on the implementation of directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, outlined the difficulties of the negotiations caused by public representatives' narcissism when it comes to the small differences between national regimes. She stressed the importance of involving not only civil society but individuals in the dialogue. Reda also focused on arguing the benefits and necessity of promoting the establishment of the public domain in the digital world.

MEPs Laura Ferrara and Dario Tamburrano, joined Adinolfi in supporting the arguments on the need for revising the current copyright framework in order to ensure that common European rules are in place to promote access to education, culture and research without allowing abuses of copyright to undermine this effort.


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