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IP/09/1563

Brussels, 22 October 2009

European Commission launches reflection on a Digital Single Market for Creative Content Online

The European Commission today published a reflection paper on the challenge of creating a European Digital Single Market for creative content like books, music, films or video games. According to Commission studies, a truly Single Market without borders for Creative Online Content could allow retail revenues of the creative content sector to quadruple if clear and consumer-friendly measures are taken by industry and public authorities (see IP/07/95 ). The digital availability of content thus presents great opportunities for Europe, but also a number of challenges. First of all, regulatory and territorial obstacles still stand in the way of digital distribution of cultural products and services and can impede creativity and innovation. In addition, illegal downloads on a large scale can jeopardize the development of an economically viable Single Market for digital content; there needs to be much more encouragement for legal cross-border offers. Against this background, the reflection paper – drafted jointly by the services of Commissioners Reding and McCreevy – outlines current challenges for three groups of stakeholders – rightholders, consumers and commercial users – and invites everybody interested to participate in a broad debate about the possible European responses to them. Comments can be sent by 5 January 2010.

"Copyright and the Internet are two powerful engines for driving creativity and innovation for the benefit of all Europeans. They should be combined in the new project of a competitive and prosperous Digital Single Market. Such a Digital Single Market can only be built with content creators on board; and with the generation of digital natives as interested users and innovative consumers," said Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "It will be my key priority over the next years to work, in cooperation with other Commissioners, on a simple, consumer-friendly legal framework for making digital content available across borders in the EU, while ensuring at the same time a robust protection of copyright and a fair remuneration of creators."

"The protection of intellectual and industrial property – copyrights, patents, trademarks or designs – is at the heart of a knowledge-based economy and central to improving Europe's competitiveness. This is a priority for reform: grounded on sound economics, not just legal concepts, and concentrating on solutions that foster innovation and investment in real life", said Charlie McCreevy, the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

The European Commission today launched a reflection paper on a European Digital Single Market and launched a public consultation calling for fresh ideas for a more vibrant market for online distribution of creative content. The paper highlights the importance of copyright as a basis for creativity in, Europe's cultural heritage.

The Commission said that specific consumer- and competition-friendly rules were needed to create a genuine Single Market for creative content on the internet. To do this, it set out three areas where legislative action was needed to:

  • Make sure creativity is rewarded so that creators, rightholders, and Europe's cultural diversity can thrive in the digital world;

  • Give consumers clearly-priced, legal means of accessing a wide range of content through digital networks anywhere, anytime;

  • Promote a level playing field for new business models and innovative solutions for the distribution of creative content across the EU.

In Europe, the cultural and creative sector (which comprises published content such as books, newspapers and magazines, musical works and sound recordings, films, video on demand and video games) generates a turnover of more than € 650 billion annually and contributes to 2.6% of the EU's GDP, employing more than 3% of the EU work force. European policymakers therefore have the responsibility to protect copyright, especially in an evolving economic and technological environment.

As part of the ongoing discussions on the priorities for a European Digital Agenda, and adding to similar debates currently taking place at national level, the Commission now wishes to focus the debate on practical solutions for encouraging new business models, promoting industry initiatives and innovative solutions, as well as on the possible need to harmonise, update or review the applicable rulebook of the EU's single market.

Background:

In a speech on 9 July, Commissioner Reding set out the vision for an ambitious Europe Digital Agenda ( SPEECH/09/336 ). To feed into this agenda, the reflection paper published today summarises the results of two public consultations ( see IP/06/1071 and IP/08/5 ), of the Commission's "Content Online Platform" ( Final Report at http://ec.europa.eu/avpolicy/docs/other_actions/col_platform_report.pdf ) and of related Commission initiatives (see the " Report on Opportunities and barriers to online retailing" of the Online Commerce Roundtable, IP/08/1338 and http://ec.europa.eu/competition/sectors/media/online_commerce.html and the Joint Statement from the Roundtable participants of 19 October 2009 on "general principles for the online distribution of music", IP/09/1548 ).

The reflection paper "Creative Content in a European Digital Single Market: Challenges for the Future" of the Commission services can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/avpolicy/other_actions/content_online/index_en.htm


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