European Commission launches Digital Single Market Strategy

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Single Market, and Günther Oettinger, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, have launched today the Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy. This Strategy, in the form of a Communication together with a supporting Staff working paper, sets out a series of goals and objectives with 16 actions foreseen to make them happen. The responsibility for putting this action plan into effect will be shared between the fourteen Commissioner members of the “Digital Single Market team” – the list of which can be found here.

During the launch event in Brussels, Commissioner Oettinger reiterated the need to ensure “a genuine future for creators, those who create books, songs, journalists” and likewise “for book publishers and magazine publishers”, and to “make it possible for creative careers to be pursued”. Vice-President Ansip commented on territoriality, saying that he himself supports “the copyright territoriality principle but [is] against territoriality exclusivity”
 
In relation to copyright, the important role played by the creative industries and the copyright-intensive sectors to the economy is outlined in the Strategy, as well as the necessity to maintain high standards of protection for rightholders for them to continue creating, with an acknowledgment that “copyright underpins creativity and the cultural industry in Europe”. The Commission sees a need for a more harmonised copyright regime and aims at proposing “solutions which maximise the offers available to users and open up new opportunities for content creators, while preserving the financing of EU media and innovative content”. To this end, legislative proposals will be made “before the end of 2015 to reduce the differences between national copyright regimes and allow for wider online access to works by users across the EU, including through further harmonisation measures. The proposals will include: (i) portability of legally acquired content, (ii) ensuring cross-border access to legally purchased online services while respecting the value of rights in the audiovisual sector, (iii) greater legal certainty for the cross-border use of content for specific purposes (e.g. research, education, text and data mining, etc.) through harmonised exceptions,(iv) clarifying the rules on the activities of intermediaries in relation to copyright-protected content and, in 2016, (v) modernising enforcement of intellectual property rights, focusing on commercial-scale infringements (the 'follow the money' approach) as well as its cross-border applicability.”
 
In a comment, Olav Stokkmo, the Chief Executive of IFRRO, welcomed the European Commission's commitment expressed in the Strategy “to maintain high standards of protection for authors, publishers, and other rightholders.” He added that “IFRRO will continue to work with the European Commission and other law-makers in a constructive way, looking for, promoting and developing practical solutions so as to make access to works easier and faster for users while ensuring fair remuneration for those who create and invest in making intellectual property available”
 
The Communication, Staff working paper, press release and other related documents can all be found here.