Digital technology has radically changed the way creative content is produced, distributed and accessed. The EU needs modern copyright rules fit for a Digital Single Market. The Commission's copyright reform proposal sets a framework within which such reform needs to be analysed and discussed.
Efficient and effective copyright rules for the Digital Single Market need to take into consideration the roles of stakeholders, be they rights-holders, facilitators of content accessibility or users. This reform requires the correct identification of the obstacles encountered by stakeholders and these obstacles can find a solution in copyright.
Digital access to creative content
Our citizens’ habits have changed. They access and consume creative content, such as music, photographs and films, online through mobile devices wherever they are. Some cultural and creative industries have continuously changed their business models to ensure an economic growth that reflects the digital lifestyles of citizens. This is what the Digital Single Market (DSM) needs, but not to the detriment of rights-holders since sustainability of these industries is also an important factor for the DSM.
This means that the copyright reform is about making sure that our citizens can enjoy more choice and better access to creative and cultural content within their digital lifestyles. It is also about facilitating the relationship between online service providers and rights-holders to ensure that citizens gain access to wider catalogues of creative content. This can be done by facilitating lawful access to content.
Start-ups and SMEs
Start-ups and SMEs are at the forefront of innovation thereby creating new jobs and economic growth. Indeed many DSM initiatives are intended to facilitate their growth and scale-up. They are both creators of content that is protected by copyright as well as users of copyrighted content, and as such require measures that facilitate their lawful use of content.
Start-ups and SMEs are not only affected by the proposed exception on text and data mining (TDM) but also by other proposals since European start-up hubs and SMEs also propose online service and content platforms and other interfaces through which citizens, as users, obtain digital access to content. Each proposal therefore needs to take into consideration the role that they play.
The creative industry is a market-driven sector. If creation does not result in revenue, the sector will not be able to finance new creations. Therefore, rights-holders have legitimate interests which must be protected to ensure growth in the sector.
The European Union needs a sustainable cultural and creative sector where all revenues are fairly shared, even when generated from online use. Transparency is one element which may facilitate the creation of level playing fields between stakeholders as well as facilitate fair remuneration for artists and performers.
Citizens as consumers and content generators
Citizens are at times faced with messages that do not do justice to the reputation of the copyright system itself. They are confronted by messages such as: “Sorry, this content is not available in your country” when trying to watch a video on a social media platform, or "We have taken down your video because you don’t have the authorisation to use that song”, while sports fans often find that their digital TV subscription has blocked a football match from a foreign channel.
We need clear rules and more transparency in the existing rules to ensure more certainty for our citizens and to ensure that our citizens understand why this happens. At the same time, we also need to find ways of making more content lawfully available and accessible. Only in this way can we ensure that the rights-holders are not prejudiced and that our citizens can enjoy more European cultural and creative content.
We also need to have effective measures to address piracy and copyright infringements even when these take place digitally. However, what the copyright exceptions give to citizens at the analogue level should not be taken away at the digital level. In addressing our citizens as content generators we need to ensure that they continue to exercise their freedoms in line with the copyright exceptions already available.