EC needs clear copyright rules

Europe’s copyright laws are now so outdated they pose a risk to the region’s cultural future, Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission’s digital agenda says.

Speaking at the Forum d'Avignon in France over the weekend, Kroes noted that current copyright laws are becoming increasingly difficult to enforce in an online, digital, world, and that attempts to pursue infringement cases often prove costly failures in terms of cutting piracy.

Kroes believes fresh laws should provide citizens with clear guidance on what is, and isn’t, legal, while recognizing and rewarding artists for their work.

“Citizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it. Sadly, many see the current system as a tool to punish and withhold, not a tool to recognize and reward,” the Commissioner notes. The new laws should be flexible enough to account for the varied “platforms, channels and business models by which content is produced, distributed, and used,” she adds.

However, Kroes concedes that copyright, alone, will not boost artist’s income. She suggests changes to tax regimes that would offer the same concessions to e-books that physical works enjoy, along with changes to the way licenses are issued.

“I can't set out for you now what the model should be and, indeed, it's not the kind of model that should be developed from the centre. Rather we need to create a framework in which a model – or indeed several models – can develop organically, flexibly, in ways that support artists,” Kroes said.

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