Europe has been fertile ground for creative minds for centuries. Over the past two decades, the digital economy has taken this to a new level. The European Commission’s orientation debate on copyright, the lifeblood of creativity, therefore comes at just the right time.

Those with the highest stakes in copyright have made their voice heard, from rights holders who make a living from copyright to the many industries involved in the production and distribution of copyrighted work to consumers who want more quality content now. The degree of agreement among these groups looks encouraging:

First, there is an absolute consensus behind the need to modernize the copyright system. Secondly, Europe cannot wait any longer. We need a copyright regime fit for the digital age. Thirdly, the Commission must address the causes of the problems, not the symptoms.

Against this background, DIGITALEUROPE makes these three suggestions
– The Copyright Directive is standing the test of time. It is proving to be a flexible enough basis on which to create new business models that generate growth and jobs.
– The draft Directive on Collective Rights Management is a good start but should be more ambitious. As drafted, it would increase the transparency of the process concerned and improve the governance of the bodies involved. Yet it would be hard to enforce and needs stricter, more detailed provisions.
– But the real sore point lies with the current systems that aim to compensate for private copying. Device-based levies generate a patchwork of vastly different fees. Crucially only a fraction of them makes its way to rights holders. Sadly, they hit the consumers twice or more for the same content.

While the Mediator has yet to publish his recommendations, the digital industry in Europe has made no secret that the current systems are no longer fit for purpose in the digital economy and are broken beyond repair. Reason points to the need for a broad and deep debate on alternatives to hardware-based copyright levies.

So for the sake of creators and producers of quality content, for the sake of their distributors and other industries contributing to this value chain – including providers of cloud services -, for the sake of consumers keen to experience their favourite content on the platform of their choice, we hope that the orientation debate spurs the college to press on with reform to the copyright system to make it properly fit for the digital age through a genuinely result-oriented debate conducted within a strict time frame.

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