EU to seek single market for online services

The European Commission will make proposals by mid-2008 aimed at creating a single European market in the burgeoning sector of online music, films and games, a Reuters report, quoting the group, said.

The Reuters report added that a major objective will be to tackle illegal downloads, which the European Commission said were discouraging many content providers from making their products available on the internet.

'Europe's content sector is suffering under its regulatory fragmentation, under its lack of clear, consumer-friendly rules for accessing copyright-protected online content and serious disagreements between stakeholders about fundamental issues such as levies and private copying,' EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said in a statement.

A spokesman said Reding did not ultimately exclude legislation in the area but that was not the aim of the present move, which would start with a non-binding recommendation.

European technology industry association EICTA welcomed the initiative but questioned whether the EU executive's decision to make a non-binding recommendation on the steps to be taken rather than going straight for legislation was the right approach, the Reuters report said.

The EU executive said it planned to launch codes of conduct between access and service providers, rights holders and consumers to ensure the widespread offer of content online and adequate protection of copyrighted works.