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Michel Barnier

Commissioner Internal Market and Services

Copyright in the digital era

MidemNet in Cannes

22 January 2011

Ladies and Gentleman,

Music creators are a face of the vibrant European cultural scene. You are the creators of our colourful musical landscape. And you are also vital to our international competitiveness.

Promoting your talent, your creativity and your innovation is key to our future prosperity. To Europe's leadership in a competitive world.

Ladies and Gentlemen, cultural diversity also means linguistic diversity. With your understanding, I will now switch to French. Translation into English will be provided on the screen.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mr President Paul Zilk,

Thank you very much for having invited me to be with you today, at this event which reconciles two of the great vocations of Cannes: the city of congresses and of artistic creation.

Today music is at the centre of our attention and I would like, as Commissioner responsible for intellectual and artistic property, to reflect with you on the role and future of copyright in Europe.

The impressive number of music professionals gathered here today at MIDEMNet – artists, composers, producers, publishers, agents, collecting societies, distributors – serve to remind us, if need be, of the economic weight of the sector.

Yes, music has a cultural dimension, essential to our European identity and heritage. But its economic and legal aspects are also important.

Copyright is at the heart of these two aspects, because copyright allows an artist to live from his creations. Because creators are also entrepreneurs. Starting a band, composing a song, producing an album, requires an investment in terms of time, money, talent, without any guarantee of ever recouping that investment. How many creators would take such risks if they could not hope to be rewarded for their creativity in case of success?

This question illustrates the importance of copyright for a continent as rich in creativity as ours: it is no accident that intellectual property issues lie at the top of the priorities set by the Commission last autumn, in its action plan aimed at boosting the single market and which we have called the "Single Market Act".

I would like to recall here the importance of copyright in the face of the challenges for musical creation today (I).

I will also detail some of the initiatives I intend to promote in this area (II).

1. Copyright must continue to play its role, which is to protect and value European creation, taking into account the new challenges and opportunities of the digital world

Creative industries are supported by copyright. They represent more than 4 million jobs in Europe, more than € 900 billion worth of activities, and generate close to € 200 billion in added value (figures for 2008, Commission Joint Research Centre).

Copyright serves the cultural diversity of Europe: 500,000 composers and authors of music; 350,000 performers.

It translates this cultural diversity into economic prosperity for our continent, by protecting one of our most significant comparative advantages: Europeans' creativity and ability to innovate. Against the backdrop of an economic crisis and of global competition, this is a considerable asset which we must value as best we can. Intellectual property law, an integral part of the single market, is its essential driver. New technological opportunities must be matched by economic opportunities for creators.

My ambition, and that of my colleagues of the European Commission, is to ensure that the great opportunities afforded by the single market can benefit all creators, all artists and with them all citizens.

But let me be crystal clear.

It is neither the role nor the aim of the Commission to dictate the ways in which you should exploit your creations or which economic model you should choose. You, creators, producers, distributors, are best placed to make these choices.

On the other hand, the Commission does have a role to play in ensuring that the European legislative framework allows you to be remunerated for your work, to serve 1, 2 or 27 territories of your choice, and to enforce your rights when they are infringed.

2. Concrete actions which the Commission will propose to meet these goals

I now come to the concrete initiatives which the Commission will launch.

This spring, I will present a European intellectual property strategy. A true driver of innovation and competitiveness, intellectual property – which ranges from patents to copyright, and includes trade marks and geographical indications – deserves a global and ambitious framework.

This strategy will be one of the three main priorities of my mandate as Commissioner for the internal market, together with my agenda on financial regulation and the relaunch of the Single Market.

There is a "blue" thread common to these actions: we want to put financial markets back at the service of the real economy, and not the opposite as was the case in the last 15 years. At the same time, we want to put this real economy back at the service of growth, innovation, human progress and cultural diversity.

This is the soul of the Europe I am talking about. Its "raison d'être". You are, Ladies and Gentlemen, at the heart of this challenge.

Our intellectual property strategy will cover a number of concrete initiatives on collective management or the fight against piracy. It will also cover the audiovisual sector and the so-called 'orphan works'.

A. Firstly, collective Management which is a key issue for you!

I mentioned earlier access to music and the remuneration of creators. The modernisation of collective management, and especially the role of authors' and composers' societies, is a key project of the Commission. These societies, which operate for the benefit of authors, and normally under their control, must reflect Europe's cultural diversity. They offer all authors equal access to the market. They should allow the use of a large catalogue of musical works by commercial players – audiovisual media, online download or streaming services.

But despite some progress, collective management remains too complex. Rights are fragmented between authors, publishers, artists, producers. The difficulties in obtaining tailored licences can hinder the development of new online services. Some major online music stores are accessible only in certain countries of the Union. This situation is not satisfactory neither for creators, nor for economic operators or consumers.

The modernisation of collective management is one of the priorities in our forthcoming strategy. It will require a legislative instrument on collective management, which will be proposed in 2011. We will facilitate the move towards more fluid and simpler collective management structures, for the benefit of citizens, creators and innovative services; towards rules of governance ensuring more transparency in the relationship between collecting societies, users and rightholders.

This legal framework will pursue two objectives. On the one hand, to ensure that all authors can rely on their society to deliver internet licences which cover, if they so wish, several or all EU territories. On the other hand, to ensure that innovative online service providers have readily available access to the music repertoire, through services adapted to their needs, for instance via "single shops".

B. I have mentioned the fight against piracy

Few sectors have to face as many illegal offerings as yours. The "black market" of piracy is an underground economy facing all related risks: it attracts criminal organisations as well and other kinds of abuses.

We are all aware of these dangers and want to fight them.

The Commission has already taken a strong stance in this battle by creating, in April 2009, the European Counterfeiting and Piracy Observatory. The Observatory increases our knowledge of the reality: 250 billion Euros lost in 2007, tens of thousands of jobs!

The Commission will present, in spring, an ambitious action plan against counterfeiting and piracy. This plan will increase the means and structures dedicated to the Observatory. It will allow us to improve the cooperation between supervisory authorities, including third countries; to develop new means of detection or of educating the public, primarily young people.

On this latter point, I follow closely the legislation implemented or foreseen in several countries and which aim to find balanced and innovative responses to the issue of counterfeiting and piracy. I also follow closely the impact of such legislation on the functioning of the internal market and on the development of attractive legal offers. If necessary, drawing on the results of these national policies, I will stand ready to propose in the same way a European framework, as long as it presents a real added value.

C. Third line of action in this Intellectual Property Strategy, the audiovisual sector

Our intellectual property strategy will also cover the online distribution of audiovisual works. We will engage in a consultation in the form of a Green Paper. This Green Paper will ask all questions, without taboo: emergence of new on demand services such as streaming, catch-up TV or limited downloading windows after a broadcast. A key aspect is that this could lead to new services for all EU consumers and new income streams for rightholders.

D. Finally, orphan works

This subject is dear to me. It concerns primarily the print sector: we want to act in order to promote the wealth of cultural heritage in the collections of libraries, and which contain a considerable number of written or printed works the author of which has either disappeared or cannot be found. What we call orphan works.

A large number of these works cannot be exploited because it proves impossible to identify or find the rightholder. It is often technically impossible to obtain the permission to use such works. However, it is clear that these works have historical, educational, economic, value and potential, as the Europeana digital library shows. Europeana already hosts more than 14 million digitised objects. And its full potential is far from achieved.

I will therefore also propose a Directive, a European legislation, putting in place a legal status for orphan works after a diligent search. This Directive will make it possible to licence the use of these works. Europe should keep the leading position in this field and allow everyone of us to access its cultural heritage in the digital world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

President Zilk,

I was pleased to share these directions with you today and to show you how proactive I want to be in the field of intellectual property as in other fields…

European Copyright Policy is a major subject, but I want to emphasise what is at stake in mastering it. On the one hand, there are very specific issues, linked to fragile equilibriums in cultural matters; social and "people" issues, linked to the idea that creators should make a living from their work and that consumers should have access to a large legal offering of cultural goods.

On the other hand, there are key strategic economic issues, which are linked to our competitiveness and to our capacity to develop a knowledge-based economy.

The Commission will respond to those essential issues with concrete and determined action in the coming months. That’s the meaning of my work as a member of the College of Commissioners, under the authority of President Barroso. Your experience and your expertise, your replies to our consultations, will be essential and will be properly taken into account. I would like to thank all those who already have and who are here today.

Rest assured that the Commission will keep, as a general rule but also in the areas of interest to you, the interests of creators and citizens at the heart of its action.

Thank you for your attention.

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