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European Commission

Michel BARNIER

Member of the European Commission, responsible for Internal Market and Services

Speech: Bringing online music within the reach of all Europeans

MIDEM 2013 – Conference "Music for everyone"

Cannes, 27 January 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you to all of you for responding to this joint invitation from MIDEM and the European Commission.

You have only to walk around MIDEM to realise the dynamism of the music sector and its importance for Europe.

Importance in the daily lives of Europeans, who spend an average of 2 hours per day listening to music. This represents 30 to 40 tracks per day.

Economic importance, since recorded music represents a market of 6 billion euros and many jobs in Europe. And many pioneering online services, such as Spotify, Deezer, Last.FM or 7digital, are European.

Important in terms of the diversity and cohesion of our continent. In this Union of 27 members (soon to be 28), music is a factor for discovering our mutual cultures as much as for unity. It is our common language.

Important, finally, for projecting Europe in the world. If our continent is seen as creative and remains attractive in spite of the crisis, it is also thanks to Mozart, the Beatles, Daft Punk or Adele!

Europe needs artists and the music industry. But artists and the music industry also need Europe.

This is in order to be able to rely on the single market and its 500 million consumers, who want to have access to the millions of titles available in Europe whenever they wish and wherever they are.

This is far from being the case today.

Europeans are often frustrated at not being able to access online the diversity of content offered in other Member States, even though they are prepared to pay for it.

There is no doubt that the online offer of music in Europe has improved considerably in the last years but there are still too many instances in which the choice of consumers is limited. European citizens are refused access to certain sites or are redirected to their national sites – where they exist.

Thus the availability of some of the most popular online music providers is still very uneven between Member States. How can it be, for example, that some of them are not available in Italy or Poland? And that only three out of the 20 most popular operators may be accessible from certain Member States?

But music lovers are not the only ones encountering difficulties.

  • I am thinking in particular of all those investing – often heavily – in identifying, producing and distributing new talents, and whose work is too often immediately accessible on illegal download sites.

  • I am thinking also of all those entrepreneurs wishing to offer innovative streaming-based services, social media or cloud services, who come up against the compartmentalisation of national markets.

This is despite the fact that the potential of the online music sector is immense, with 30 % of worldwide record label sales already taking place online and revenues increasing by 8 % in 2011 alone.

Whether consumers, investors or entrepreneurs, it is incomprehensible that Europeans are finding on the Internet obstacles they have been removing in the physical world for over 50 years.

We all know that these problems have multiple causes, some of which have nothing to do with copyright, such as insufficient broadband network capacity in Europe, the commercial strategies of service providers, the cost of payment services and so on.

But while it should not be a convenient scapegoat, copyright must no longer form part of these obstacles.

It should not be a lock, but a modern and effective tool for supporting creation and innovation, providing access to high-quality content across borders, encouraging investment and strengthening cultural diversity.

To achieve this objective, acting on an initiative from me the European Commission has adopted two complementary approaches.

I – Firstly, whenever possible, we must encourage dialogue with the industry and the principal stakeholders, who hold the keys to resolving many of the current difficulties.

Acting on my proposal, the Commission decided at the beginning of December to launch the "Licences for Europe" initiative.

What is it about?

It is to establish by the end of 2013 a structured dialogue between all stakeholders, led by the Commission, to provide specific short-term solutions to a series of legitimate questions from consumers, citizens and enterprises, including your own. With my colleagues Neelie Kroes and Androulla Vassiliou, co-responsible for this process, I will ensure that it yields results.

Among these questions, two in particular relate to the music industry:

The first is the cross-border portability of online content access services. How can we ensure that Europeans have better transnational access to online music and video services? And how can we ensure the continuity of those services when subscribers are travelling in Europe with their smartphones or tablets?

The second is the lack of legal certainty surrounding content reusing other content online ["user-generated content" or "UGC"] and the difficulties small businesses and users have in obtaining the licences necessary for all of the rights. We need a better understanding of the extent of existing solutions and the potential of "one-click" licences and, in any event, we need to ensure legal certainty, as well as the legitimate rights of creators.

I am counting on all actors in the world of music to play a full part, without prejudice or ulterior motives, in a constructive dialogue to give rise to innovative contractual solutions.

II – On the other hand, where necessary to ensure dynamism in Europe, we must be prepared to legislate.

This is the default path; the one we must give preference to where negotiation does not permit the removal of the obstacles blocking access to music in Europe.

Let us look at the case of collection.

In 2010, 7.5 billion euros in copyright fees were collected around the world by the members of CISAC (the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) across all creative sectors, 4.6 billion of which were collected by European societies. That is 61 % of the total! And the music sector represents over 80 % of that sum.

You can see from this the key role of collecting societies on our continent.

The 30 European collecting societies for copyright on musical works are subject to as many different sets of rules.

The Directive on collective rights management will ensure the proper governance of these societies while facilitating the granting of multi-territorial licences, which should enable companies, particularly SMEs, to generate a more substantial, and above all more European, supply of music online.

It will mean a step forward not only for the over 250 online music service providers in Europe, but also for all those whose services incorporate music, such as television channels and video-on-demand service providers. All these actors need multi-territorial licences.

Besides licences, we also need to protect the fruits of creators' work and producers' and publishers' investments from those who make use of the Internet to make money from the work of others without their consent.

That is why we are discussing the most effective and legitimate means of respecting copyright. Copyright is an essential driver in the creative process. But a right which cannot be respected is of little use.

For this, we need your opinion. How does the implementation of intellectual property rights operate in your Member States? What suggestions do you have for improvement? What are the tried and tested practices?

We must also extend the scope of the discussion. For example, is it acceptable to tolerate advertising revenues being garnered by a service provider who facilitates the "free" sharing of illegal music files?

Based on the results of a consultation we have launched, we will decide whether improvements to the European legal framework need to be proposed.

In any event, we must find solutions that protect and improve the operation of the internal market, stressing the fight against infringements on a commercial scale in accordance with the principle of "follow the money".

Finally, I wish to look at what I call the "relegitimisation" of copyright in the digital age.

We cannot give free rein to the illusion that everything is free. Nor can we give the impression that, in an age when file duplication is instant and infinite, unlimited sharing of protected content is covered by a kind of "digital natural law", particularly when profit is the objective.

But in order to be heard in these matters, we must also be better able to demonstrate the crucial importance of an effective and efficient intellectual property system for the vitality of our societies. We are actively working on this, but I also call upon all actors in the cultural sector and the creative industries to share in our ambition.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have come to meet you today to present my vision of a Europe at the service of its creators, citizens and enterprises.

This Europe will not be built in an office in Brussels. It will be built day by day, on the ground, and you have an important contribution to make to it.

What we expect from you is to be ready to meet around a table to ask how best to meet the expectations of Europeans in an innovative manner.

I am therefore pleased that our round table can take place here, in this forum dedicated to music and culture. And I invite you to begin discussions without further ado.


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