digital single market

Rights Owners Rack Up Victories in EU, Australia

The copyright industries haven’t fared particularly well in U.S. trade negotiations recently, missing out on a chance to extend various copyright-protection measures when the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partner, and facing push-back on efforts to incorporate those provisions into a revised NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico. But they’re having better luck in Europe and Australia.

Last week, the Australian government unveiled legislation to extend the current digital safe harbors there to libraries, educational institutions, organizations for the disabled, archives, and other cultural sectors. But in a reversal from a previous government position, the legislation would exclude major commercial platforms like Facebook and Google from such protection.

Under current Australian law, the safe harbors protecting networks from liability for copyright-infringing materials uploaded by their users is limited to ISPs. Earlier this year, the government floated a proposal to expand those protections to cover a wider range or networks, including commercial services like YouTube that rely heavily on user-generated content. That proposal was shelved in March, however, and the government began a series of consultations with the copyright industries leading up to last week’s announcement.

The change in course represents a major victory for copyright owners, particularly the music industry, which has lobbied heavily for steps to help close the “value gap” it claims the safe harbors have created on social media platforms. Keeping YouTube and Facebook out of those harbors will make it easier for rights owners to negotiate favorable licensing deals with the platforms.

In Europe, meanwhile, the European Parliament voted this week to reject most provisions of the European Commission’s so-called Sat-Cab proposal that would have allowed broadcasters within the European Union to include content they had licensed for broadcast in their own territory in their pan-European digital video-on-demand and over-the-top services.

The proposal by the European Commission was intended to advance the EU’s Digital Single Market initiative but was strongly opposed by the film and TV industries that have long relied on exclusive territory-by-territory licensing to maximize revenue and secure financing for production.

The vote by the European Parliament is not the final step in the EU’s complicated procedures. The proposal now goes to the Council of Ministers made up of senior officials from the member countries, where European broadcasters have vowed to continue pushing for expanded distribution. But for now, the vote in the Parliament is a major victory for the film and TV producers, who lobbied heavily against the commission’s proposal.

That win comes on the heels of a similar victory for rights owners last month, when both the European Parliament and Council agreed to exclude most copyrighted works for at least two years from another provision of the Digital Single Market rules that strictly limits the use of “geo-blocking” measures on digital goods. The elimination of geo-blocking was strongly opposed by book publishers, who feared it would allow online booksellers such as Amazon to sell ebooks throughout the EU with a single license, undercutting the industry’s practice of licensing digital rights territory-by-territory or language-by-language.

As with the Cab-Sat proposal, the agreement on geo-blocking is not the last word on the matter. But for now, at least, the regulatory tide in the EU that had been running strongly against the copyright industries’ long-standing licensing practices appears to be turning.

 

EU Appoints New Commissioner to Lead Digital Single Market

European Commission president Jean-Claude Junker this week named Bulgarian minister Mariya Gabriel as his candidate for Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society responsible for overseeing the commission’s Digital Single Market initiative. Gabriel, whose appointment must still be approved by the European Parliament, would replace Günther Oettinger, who had overseen the DSM strategy since its launch in 2015 but was reassigned the budget portfolio earlier this year, and will report to Andrus Ansip, the commission vice president in overall charge of DSM.

Mariya Gabriel

The appointment of Gabriel comes one week after the EC issued a mid-term review of the DSM strategy, in which it called for swift action by the European Parliament and member states to enact its various recommendations.

“The Commission has lived up to its promise and presented all main initiatives for building a Digital Single Market,” Ansip said in the review. “Now, the European Parliament and Member States need to adopt these proposals as soon as possible, for new jobs, business and innovation to take off across Europe.”

The DSM project has been a focus of controversy from the start, as telecom providers, technology companies and copyright owners have all raised objections to one or more of the commission’s 35 legislative proposals and policy initiatives. Agreement on those proposals among the commission, the European Parliament, and the Council for the European Union has been slow in coming. To date, agreement has been reached on only three:

  • Abolition of phone roaming charges within the EU;
  • So-called portability of online content starting in 2018, under which EU citizens from one country will be allowed to access online services they subscribe to at home while traveling in another EU country, even if the content hasn’t been licensed for release in that second territory;
  • Enhanced data protection regulations

Still pending are controversial proposals to harmonize local copyright regimes among the member states to facilitate EU-wide licensing and distribution of content; an end to geo-blocking that results in consumers paying different prices for digital goods in different EU territories; an update to the cable and satellite directive to facilitate cross-border access to TV and radio programming; an update to the rules regarding content distribution and advertising arrangements; and telecom reform, among others.

Gabriel is currently serving her second term as a member of the European Parliament, where she has focused primarily on visa matters and foreign affairs.

In an interview with Politico Europe Gabriel insisted that her lack of a technical background would not be a handicap in her new position.

Being a commissioner, she told the publication, was “primarily a political job, not a technical one,” adding she was looking forward to working on digital issues because “it’s a field that represents the future.”

 

Flak for Europe copyright plans

The media and sports industries are opposing the European Commission’s plans to change copyright law to make more films, sports and TV shows available online throughout the 28-nation bloc.

In its plans for a “digital single market” the commission wants to make broadcasters’ online transmissions more easily available across borders, but that risks diluting the licensing value of content and undermining the way films and TV shows are financed, lobbyists say.

Source: Flak for Europe copyright plans | Europe | BDlive

Report: New Euro law could put film, TV audiences at risk of substantial loss of content 

The report calculates that changes to copyright and other initiatives at the EU level could result in substantially lower levels of investment in TV and film content, with consumer welfare losses worth up to €9.3 billion. This, it said, would be a direct result of those consumers losing access to content they currently enjoy, being charged more, or being priced out completely. It further asserts that up to 48% less local TV content in certain genres and 37% less local film production would be produced, with the most marginal/risky content at particular risk of being dropped.

The report was launched with the support of a broad group of sponsors, including film and audiovisual producers, distributors, broadcasters, platforms and film agencies throughout Europe and across the world. The group urges the European Commission to re-think its proposals to erode the territorial exploitation of film and TV content and avoid any proposals or other initiatives that would undermine film and television licensing and financing, including the decision to license on an exclusive territorial basis.

Source: New Euro law claimed to be putting film, TV audiences at risk of substantial loss of content | Media Analysis | Business

Commission’s digital single market turns one and has a big seven months ahead 

Under its digital single market plans, the European Commission has so far proposed a crowd-pleasing new law to allow people to use digital content subscriptions like Netflix when they travel to other EU countries. The executive also came out with proposals to reform online contracts and open the 700 MHz spectrum band for mobile internet and outlined non-legislative measures to make industrial manufacturing more digital.

Paul Meller, spokesman for tech industry association DigitalEurope, said the digital single market plans are “far more ambitious than any previous Commission efforts in this area”.

But there could be dramatic twists ahead: the executive’s announcements, still planned for later this year, are some of the most controversial ones in the strategy.

Source: Commission’s digital single market turns one and has a big seven months ahead – EurActiv.com

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