EC Plans Single Market For Mobile, Online Content

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The European Commission has today finalised its Creative Content Online In The Single Market paper and will publish proposals for pan-continental digital content regulations by the middle of 2008, covering online and mobile content. The document had been in production since 2006, has been informed by two public consultations and is designed to let digital content companies compete more effectively by smoothing out perceived roadblocks in existing intellectual property and other rules.

The key proposals…

— The commission calls on the industry to set aside piracy concerns through “innovative and collaborative solutions” and make more content available digitally.

— It says there is “an underlying need” to tackle “the lack of multi-territory copyright licences, (which) makes it difficult for online services to be deployed across Europe and to benefit from economies of scale”. For example, member states can currently bar musicians from using royalties collection societies in other EU countries because granting that freedom is currently only voluntary under European law – big labels protest that’s hampering their ability to sign continent-wide online rights deals and favour the creation of all-Europe royalties super-collectors.

Frustrated by lack of interoperability in digital rights standards, it wants to draw up “a framework for DRM transparency“, which would include not just interoperability but ensuring customers are fully informed of DRM-specific content restrictions before they buy. Now that the music industry has begun to ditch DRM, however, it may be that this proposal is coming too late.

— The paper proposes “codes of conduct” be established between distributors, rightsholders and customers on the issue of illegal downloading and sharing. Sounds like a rather toothless measure, but could be just the sort of thing that lets ISPs monitor customers’ net usage for illegal P2P activity.

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