EC dusts down copyright laws

The EC has mimicked UK regulator Ofcom’s plans to revise copyright and IP laws with proposals aimed at dragging the rules into the 21st century.
Laws must be updated to keep pace with rapid technological change in recent years, the Commission states, particularly in areas covering music and ‘orphan’ works – content whose copyright holder cannot be identified.
Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said the changes are essential to Europe’s future economy. “Progress depends on new ideas and new knowledge. There will be no investment in innovation if rights are not protected.”
Barnier notes a balance must be struck between allowing consumers access to “cultural content,” like online music and “for new business models and cultural diversity to both thrive.”
To achieve that, the EC proposes harmonizing copyright issuance – rights are still doled out by member states – with new laws covering collection management across multiple territories. It plans to draw up a legal framework for the scheme in the back half of the year, and will pay particular attention to the music industry as well as establishing common rules on governance and revenue distribution.
Digital libraries will be created offering access to the region’s cultural works, including orphaned content, while local customs officials will gain new powers to seize goods of dubious intellectual property provenance. Customs commissioner Algirdas Šemeta says border officials are ideally placed “to protect citizens and legitimate businesses,” from counterfeiting and piracy.
Ofcom unveiled similar proposals for updating copyright laws last week, calling on the government to ease rules covering music and video transfers between multiple devices, and on businesses copying information.
The plans received a warm welcome from industry players, with Google telling Telecoms the plans fit with its calls for “moderate copyright reform to foster innovation and create jobs.”