If the Commission persuades the EU Parliament and Council to its views, EU-wide digital content portability for consumers will become a reality under a draft Regulation unveiled today* and aspects of online contract law for consumers will be fully harmonised across the EU under two new Directives, drafts of which were also published today*.

This post outlines today’s* publications. DSM Watch will be back very soon with more detailed analysis of the draft legislation and the policy communications.

Cross-border portability: draft Regulation

The draft regulation on ensuring the cross-border portability of online content services in the internal market is here.  The Commission’s plan is that by 2017 providers of online content services will be required to enable EU consumers to access and use online content services they subscribe to when they are temporarily in an EU member state which is not their member state of residence.

Online contracts: draft Directives

The Commission’s proposals for online contracts are contained in two draft Directives: one covers online sale of goods and the other covers online sale of digital content.

Both draft Directives are on a maximum harmonisation basis, which is part of the Commission’s two-pronged goal:

  • to make businesses more comfortable selling across the EU (because member states wouldn’t be allowed to introduce higher levels of consumer protection); and
  • to make consumers more comfortable buying from across the EU (because member states wouldn’t be allowed to introduce lower levels of consumer protection).

The proposals focus firmly on consumer contracts (as expected) and seem to be more limited in scope than they might have been – the rules for online sales of goods in particular are less of an overhaul of contract law than the Commission’s previous proposals under the Common European Sales Law project.

For those in the UK, who are just getting to grips with the new Consumer Rights Act, don’t get too comfortable … amendments are on the cards if the Directives are implemented.

Policy communications

Today the Commission also published two communications (policy papers) under the Digital Single Market Strategy banner:  “Digital contracts for Europe – Unleashing the potential of e-commerce” and “Towards a modern, more European copyright framework” .   The latter had been already leaked in draft some weeks ago (see our blog post of 27th November) and revealed the Commission´s goals for modernizing European copyright.  The Commission’s press release today says that the focus will be on:

  • Widening access to content across the EU: Core aspects of this topic are cross-border portability as well as the cross-border distribution of TV and radio programmes.
  • Exceptions to copyright rules for an innovative and inclusive society: In this context, the Commission aims to revise existing exceptions which allow for copyright-protected works to be used without prior written consent.
  • Creating a fairer marketplace: The Commission will analyse whether legal definitions such as the “communication to the public” right and the “making available to the public” right need to be reconsidered in order to increase legal certainty and transparency for online use of copyright protected works.
  • Fighting piracy: In relation to which the Commission has just today launched a public consultation on the evaluation and modernisation of EU rules on enforcement of IP rights.