The European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, who is in charge of drafting a new copyright law for Europe, is focusing his attention on content creators, according to a March 25, 2015 report in The Register.
Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger recently held meetings with “stakeholders” in order to seek their opinions on the proposed legislation. Oettinger has reportedly met with Deutsche Content Allianz, which represents German creative industries, the Society of Audiovisual Authors, and the European Broadcasting Union, among others, but with only one consumer group.
Copyright reforms under discussion include balancing the rights of content creators and those of consumers. Current European copyright laws are perceived as interfering with the sales of digital content between EU-member countries.
The EU College of Commissioners is debating plans for a Digital Single Market (DSM). Oettinger was quoted in an EU press release as saying,
Europe cannot be at the forefront of the digital revolution with a patchwork of 28 different rules for telecommunications services, copyright, IT security and data protection.
Among other things, national copyright laws facilitate “geo-blocking” — preventing Europeans from using online services that are available in other EU-member countries.
The Google Tax
In December, Oettinger suggested that he supported so-called ancillary copyright law, requiring news aggregators, such as Google, to pay royalties to publishers for using excerpts of articles. These payments are sometimes called the “Google tax.”
These ancillary payments have already been tried Spain and Germany, with what some call “disastrous” results. For example, Google closed its Google News service in Spain in the wake of the new copyright law.
Breaking the Silos
20 European filmmakers, including the Oscar-winning directors of The Artist, The Tin Drum, and No Man’s Land, have protested the plans to reform European copyright law, saying:
We are Europeans shocked to hear of ‘breaking down national silos in copyright’ yet nothing to condemn ongoing violations of copyright, which hinder the development of online legal services.
Trade associations representing the film and television industries, including the Motion Picture Association, which represents the major US movie studios worldwide, have urged the EU to preserve the current copyright framework.
According to Leech Tishman IP lawyer Thomas Peistrup, “All of this underscores the lack of consensus among European policy makers when it comes to potential revisions to copyright law.”