Tech and content have always needed each other. Just like plants and bees. Ninety years ago a group of six tech companies in the UK actually created the BBC. They had radio (one of them was Marconi) but no content. It’s the same today – it might influence our choice of model, but nobody I know buys a TV or a smartphone just because it looks good.

This need lies at the heart of why the modern digital tech industry in Europe wants a better and bigger European content sector. Today, thanks to an old and fragmented copyright system in Europe, our digital music market is less than a quarter of what it could be. That’s not good for European creators, consumers or the tech sector DIGITALEUROPE represents.

Part of the problem lies with the intermediaries who have been very successful in resisting change, including hanging on to a forty year-old levies system. It’s not surprising that they resist new more efficient possibilities. Middlemen have been the hardest hit by the internet revolution, from travel agents to insurance brokers, as buyers and sellers realise that they can enjoy more efficiency and lower prices in the digital age. Smart intermediaries re-invent themselves and find ways to add new value – but some just want to hang on to their old ways and collect the rents like they always have.

In our recent paper we put forward some new ideas to reward creators with a bigger slice of the money they earn for their work, and more quickly too. Thanks to the work of the mediator Antonio Vitorino, appointed by the European Commission, it seems that the door might be open for a proper discussion. These and any other constructive ideas merit serious consideration by all the stakeholders – from law-makers to consumers. We needed it ninety years ago; we need it today too. So it’s important to find solutions together if we are to get the bigger and more efficient European market that we all, well most of us anyway, want.

This blog post was penned by John Higgins CBE, Director General of DIGITALEUROPE

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