Brussels, 19 April 2004
Copyright: the Commission advocates European legislation on the governance of collecting societies
Community legislation on the collective management of rights, and particularly on the governance of collecting societies, would be highly desirable. This is one of the main conclusions arrived at in a Communication published by the European Commission following an in-depth analysis of the issues surrounding the management of copyright and related rights. Moreover, the Commission is immediately launching a further consultation exercise on what such legislation might consist of. The Communication also concludes that interoperability and acceptance by all stakeholders, including consumers, of Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems is a pre-condition for their emergence. Lastly, the Communication sets out several options for improving the situation regarding the development of Community-wide licensing for the exploitation of rights. The Communication is based on the conclusions of the consultation carried out on these issues, which took place against the backdrop of the emerging Information Society. According to another study ordered by the Commission in 2003, copyright exploitation accounts for over 5.3% of Community GDP.
The term "management of rights" refers to the means by which copyright and related rights are marketed. Rights management can be carried out individually by the rightholder, or collectively by a collecting society acting as a trustee.
The Internal Market Commissioner, Frits Bolkestein, has stated that "the marketing of intellectual property rights needs to be facilitated in order to create a true single market in this area. Rightholders and commercial users deserve sound and modern management of these rights. That is why it is no longer possible not to address rights management at European level."
In its Communication, the Commission notes that the Internal Market has largely become the framework for managing and using copyright and related rights: the digital environment, by definition, makes it possible to exploit rights across borders, but, at the same time, licensing for analogue exploitation is also increasingly taking on a cross-border dimension. Moreover, established Community legislation regarding intellectual property rights proper is now quite robust. It is based on seven harmonisation directives. This being so, effective rights management is crucial to ensuring that the Internal Market functions properly in this field. Furthermore, it is important to be sure that the rights management system can adapt to new developments, such as the increasing demand for Community-wide licences for the use of certain rights. It must also ensure that the necessary protection and remuneration of authors and performers are balanced against the demands of commercial users.
On the basis of these needs and of the results of the consultation process which commenced in 1995, the Commission has come to four main conclusions:
The Commission is launching a consultation exercise beginning immediately to take over where the one which ended in 2002 left off and focus especially on the components of possible legislation on collective rights management. This will make it possible to discuss the impact of such an initiative.
The Commission would therefore like to ask all interested parties to submit any additional comments before 21 June 2004 by e-mail to: Markt-E4@ec.europa.eu.
The full version of the Communication is available at: