The EPP Group has always defended a balanced approach on copyright and considers that it is the only way to ensure the interest of both the creators and the consumers by preserving the sustainability and diversity of the European creative and cultural sectors.
Fast development in modern technology undeniably leads us to question whether the current IPR legislation has in fact been able to work within these technological developments and also to analyse whether it has been restrictive or prohibitive of the technological growth or access to services.
The protection of IPRs as well as promoting broader access to works are the pillars of the economic use of the internet and a prerequisite of the digital economy in the EU. More and more copyrighted works are illegally available on the internet without the authorisation of the right holders. This constitutes a problem as cultural and creative industries employ more than 7 million people and contribute 4.5% of the EU's GDP annually with a high growth potential. But this is a market-driven sector: if creating does not generate revenues, the sector will not be able to finance new creations. We therefore need to protect the right holders' legitimate interests in order to ensure the growth of the creative sector. Also, cultural diversity in Europe can only be preserved by ensuring a high level of copyright protection, ensuring the fair remuneration of authors and right holders, and encouraging investments in the creative and cultural sectors.
Our role is to strive for a balance which enables users to access services but at the same time generate sufficient benefits to promote Europe's cultural diversity and heritage.
Therefore, the EPP Group advocates a copyright system that promotes investments, the efficient functioning of value chains between authors, creators, performers, producers, publishers, journalists, intermediaries, service providers, consumers and users. The objective should be to put in place innovative, flexible, simplified and consumer-friendly licensing schemes for copyrighted works which should be guided by the principles of contractual freedom and fair remuneration for right holders.
Territorial Principle, Multi-territorial and Pan-European Licenses
The EPP Group welcomes the Commission's commitment expressed in its Digital Single Market Strategy to tackle unjustified geo-blocking, since unjustified geo-blocking might lead to consumer dissatisfaction. However, the EPP Group considers that the territorial principle and the value created by exclusive rights are important elements for the audio-visual sector to maintain its competitiveness and to ensure the sustainability of its financing, taking into account the specific characteristics and interests of medium-sized and smaller Member States and their smaller markets.
In this sense, to completely abolish geo-blocking might cause irreversible damage to the cultural and audio-visual sector and a revision of the territorial principle should not be the aim. There is broad consensus within the EPP Group that the portability of legally-acquired and legally made available content should be enhanced, but not by abolishing the territorial principle as this would harm European cultural diversity. Besides keeping in mind legal certainty, multilingual environments should be able to benefit from the availability of diverse language audio-visual products. It is also important to promote innovative contractual solutions, enabling consumers - where possible - to buy films or music from all over Europe. To facilitate access to online content, we need enhanced portability measures in order to achieve a balanced method of bringing together the creative industry and the consumers.
The EPP Group also encourages the use of multi-territorial and Pan-European Licenses, where there is a market, when there is consumer demand, when the technology is available and when business can ensure fair remuneration, while stressing that the use of the former licenses should remain optional.
The EPP Group is in favour of improving the portability of purchased legal online content, as well as enhancing the technological possibilities to ensure portability. The Group considers that the principle of territoriality should not be unnecessarily used to limit the portability of content.
Portability should ensure secured online and offline cross-border access to content legally obtained by customers when they travel across Europe. Interoperability, the ability to carry one format from one platform to another, is to be facilitated as one of the measures that enhances access to cultural goods and services.
A single European copyright title would not be the one-fits-all solution. It can mean a limitation of the freedom of contracts for right holders and a devaluation of rights in general. Europe has many different cultural and linguistic environments and as a result, while already possible, cross-border licensing will remain an exception. Nevertheless, we welcome studies that assess the feasibility and impact of an optional EU Copyright Title.
Exceptions and Limitations
The EPP Group is not in favour of a full harmonisation of exceptions and limitations. Exceptions and limitations reply to expectations and specific situations emerging from domestic markets. They should ensure the fair compensation of authors, creators and artists and are therefore the basis for activity and employment for the cultural business sector. Where market-led solutions do not already exist, we can agree to a careful, limited and justified further harmonisation where needed, for example in the areas of education or equal access for disabled people. Any revision of the exceptions and limitations in Directive 2001/29/EC should be in line with the principles of the three-step test: they should be limited to special cases, not conflict with normal exploitation and should not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the right holder. Any revision has to be duly justified by a sound and objective economic and legal analysis.
The EPP Group recognises that new uses of content are made possible by technological advances or new uses of technology in circumstances where an exception or limitation already applies. In these cases, the EPP Group is in favour of those new uses to be construed in line with the existing exception or limitation provided that the new use is similar to the existing one and is subjected to the three-step test.
Research and Education
Particularly in education, the domestic market is predominant and cross-border licenses are limited. Regarding this sector, the EPP Group considers that an exception might be viable if strictly limited to research and educational purposes, linked to an educational establishment or research institution recognised by the competent authorities or within the scope of an educational programme.
Innovation based on research requires access to a growing amount of scientific content, where the use of text and data mining techniques can be necessary. The EPP Group recognises the potential of content mining techniques to contribute to breakthroughs in research. The EPP Group advocates for access to enabled automated analytical technologies for text and data mining of lawfully-acquired content under market-established licensing terms, as the demand doesn't currently justify an exception. Stakeholders should collaborate to create and improve user-friendly platforms to facilitate the access to text and data mining licences and material.
Private Copy Levy
The EPP Group is at this stage not in favour of the general harmonisation of the Private Copy Exception but recognises the difficulties created by the various implementations of the Private Copy Levies in the Member States recognising the Private Copy Exception. It considers important the exception for private copying which has to go hand in hand with the fair compensation of creators. It asks the Commission for a clarification of the definition of the Private Copy Levy on the basis of recent ECJ case law as well as an assessment of the viability of existing measures in particular with regard to transparency.
Libraries and E-books
The EPP Group calls for establishing more legal certainty in the framework of copyright for libraries and e-books that provides fair remuneration for authors and publishers. The EPP Group asks stakeholders, as well as national and European authorities, to develop tools allowing e-book licenses for libraries. In this respect, it asks the Commission to assess the impact of a possible exception allowing public and research libraries to legally lend works in digital format for personal use on condition of fair compensation for right holders and the existence of technical measures allowing an effective control of the lent work.
Intermediaries and Platforms
The EPP Group is aware that intermediaries often make profit with content that they do not create, profits which are not always shared fairly with the concerned creators. The EPP Group is in favour of a clarification of the legal status and the role of platforms and content providers thereby necessitating a clearer definition of the different types of platforms. It is in favour of a reassessment of the liability of service providers with regards to copyright infringements and the exercise of due diligence and duty of care throughout the creative process. Regarding the relationships between platforms and right holders, the EPP Group acknowledges the need to address the existing value gap. The EPP Group also supports initiatives aimed at improving the transparency of online platforms and at encouraging search engines to guide consumers towards legal content online. Regarding the new uses of cultural content and the new ways of creating through the use of platforms, the EPP Group acknowledges a need for further dialogue between the right holders, the platforms and the creators relying on those platforms to create the conditions of a mutually-beneficial environment.