Brussels, 3 January 2008
Commission sees need for a stronger more
consumer-friendly Single Market for Online Music, Films and Games in Europe
The European Commission has decided today to give a
new boost to Europe's online content sector. EU citizens should be able to enjoy
easier and faster access to a rich variety of music, TV programmes, films or
games via the Internet, mobile phones or other devices. The Commission therefore
encourages the content industry, telecoms companies and Internet service
providers to work closely together to make available more content online, while
at the same time ensuring a robust protection of intellectual property rights.
The Commission also wants to facilitate copyright licences for online content
covering the territory of several or all of the EU Member States. According to
Commission studies, a truly Single Market without borders for Creative Online
Content could strengthen considerably the competitiveness of Europe's music,
film and games industry and allow retail revenues of the sector to quadruple by
2010 if clear and consumer-friendly measures are taken by industry and public
authorities (see IP/07/95).
"Europe's content sector is suffering under its regulatory fragmentation,
under its lack of clear, consumer-friendly rules for accessing
copyright-protected online content, and serious disagreements between
stakeholders about fundamental issues such as levies and private copying", said
Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media. "We have
to make a choice in Europe: Do we want to have a strong music, film and games
industry? Then we should give industry legal certainty, content creators a fair
remuneration and consumers broad access to a rich diversity of content online. I
will work on these issues with my colleagues in the Commission and propose a
Recommendation by mid-2008 on new ways for achieving a single market for online
content. I ask in particular Europe's consumer associations to take a very
active part in this debate. Because for online content, the demand and
preferences of 500 million potential consumers are the strongest arguments for
achieving new solutions at EU level."
The Commission has adopted today a Communication on "Creative Content Online
in Europe's Single Market". This strategic document is the starting point for
new EU actions to support development of innovative business models,
cross-border services and consumer-friendly offers.
The retail sale and distribution of high value "creative" content
online represents a major structural change in the European content
market. Whilst the online market share of music sales is reportedly reaching 25%
in some European countries such as the UK, the retailing of video content, and
the availability of on-demand TV programming via the Internet is as yet still a
nascent market. Such high value "creative content" also covers radio, online
games, online publishing and educational content. New market developments also
arise from Web 2.0, i.e. user-created content, that consumers themselves may
wish to "protect" from unauthorised re-use.
The Commission consulted the public on these issues in 2006. On the basis of
this, the Commission sees a need for strengthening the European content market
and the influence of European consumers needs on this market.
In the Communication, the Commission identifies four main, horizontal
challenges which merit further action at EU-level:
- Availability of creative content –
Owners of creative content are sometimes reluctant to make it available for
online distribution. Amongst the reasons for this are concerns over illegal
downloads and online "piracy". In addition, there are across the EU major
difficulties in negotiating and settling terms of trade between the right owners
and the online distributors of creative content.The Commission is therefore
today strongly encouraging stakeholders to find innovative and collaborative
solutions to exploit the market for content online. A first step into this
direction was taken in 2006 with the "European Film Online Charter" (see IP/06/672),
but the Commission notes a lack of ambition and implementation in the follow-up
to this initiative.
- Multi-territory licensing for creative
content – Online environments such as the Internet and mobile services
inherently allow content services to be made available across the single
European market. However, the lack of multi-territory copyright licences –
allowing the use of content in several or all EU Member States – makes it
difficult for online services to be deployed across Europe and to benefit from
economies of scale. While it is first for rights holders to appreciate the
potential commercial benefits of multi-territory licensing, there is an
underlying need, also from a consumer perspective, to improve on existing
- Interoperability and transparency of Digital
Rights Management systems (DRMs) – Technologies that support the
management of rights and the fair remuneration of creators in an online
environment can be a key enabler for development of innovative business models.
Lengthy discussions amongst stakeholders have yet to lead to the
deployment of interoperable and user-friendly DRM solutions.The Commission
therefore seeks to establish a framework for DRM transparency concerning,
amongst others, the interoperability of different DRMs, and ensuring that
consumers are properly informed of any usage restrictions placed on downloaded
content, as well as of the interoperability of related online services.
- Legal offers and piracy – Piracy, including the unauthorised
up- and downloading of copyrighted content, remains a central concern.The
Commission intends to instigate co-operation procedures ("codes of conduct")
between access/service providers, right holders and consumers to ensure
not only the widespread offer of attractive content online, but also adequate
protection of copyrighted works, and close cooperation on the fight against
piracy and unauthorised file-sharing.
The market for online content
is developing at a rapid pace. According to a Commission study (covering EU-25),
the retail revenues from content online will more than quadruple from
€1.8bn in 2005 to €8.3bn by 2010 (see IP/07/95).
With the Communication "Creative Content Online in Europe's Single Market",
the Commission is launching today a public consultation in order to
prepare – by mid 2008 – an EU Recommendation on Creative Content
Online for adoption by the European Parliament and the Council. Stakeholders are
invited to comment on today's Communication by 29 February 2008.
In addition, the Commission will set up the "Content Online Platform",
a stakeholders' forum, to initiate collaborative work with all stakeholders on
issues where further discussions are needed. Consumers will be given a strong
voice in this platform.
For further information:
information on the 2006 consultation process: