EC aims to broaden access to online content and modernize EU copyright rules

Newsroom 18/12/2015 | 10:22

In line with the Digital Single Market strategy, the European Commission recently presented a proposal to allow Europeans to travel with their online content, which should ensure better access for consumers and businesses to online content, goods and services across Europe. The EC also proposed an action plan to modernize EU copyright rules. Once adopted, these two initiatives will be applicable across all 28 EU member states.

Otilia Haraga


“When people download a movie or a song, it must play. If this is not the case, they should be able to end the contract and get their money back. People who legally buy content must be able to carry it with them anywhere they go in Europe. This is a real change, similar to what we did to end roaming charges,” said Andrus Ansip, vice-president for the Digital Single Market.

While at present, Europeans travelling within the EU may be cut off from online services providing films, sports broadcasts, music, e-books or games that they have paid for in their home country, the EC came up with a proposal.  They propose the implementation of a regulation on the cross-border portability of online content services which will eliminate these restrictions so that EU residents can travel with the digital content they have purchased or subscribed to at home.

Cross-border portability, which should come into force as a new EU right for consumers, is expected to become a reality in 2017, the same year as the end of roaming charges in the EU, according to the press release on the website of the EC. Since it is a proposal for a regulation, once adopted it will be directly applicable in all 28 EU Member States, according to the press release.

The new rules on digital contracts aim to better protect consumers who buy digital content or goods online across the EU and help businesses expand their online sales.

Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “The internet has lifted technological barriers to a Digital Single Market, with the digital contracts proposals we want to lift legal barriers. Consumers and businesses must buy and sell online easily and confidently anywhere in the EU.”

According to the EC press release, removing barriers caused by contract law differences should bring an overall benefit to the European economy in the order of EUR 18 billion and EU’s GDP is expected to increase by EUR 4 billion from its current level.

The EC also outlined its vision of a modern EU copyright framework, which will be translated into legislative proposals and policy initiatives over the next six months, following several public consultations.

The action plan in this field is built on four complementary pillars: Widening access to content across the EU, exceptions to copyright rules for an innovative and inclusive society, creating a fairer marketplace and fighting piracy.

With the implementation of these four pillars, the Commission intends to improve the cross-border online distribution of television and radio programs and facilitate the granting of licenses for cross-border access to content.  The Commission will further use its Creative Europe program to help European cinema reach a broader audience.

Also, the EC will revise EU rules to make it easier for researchers to use “text and data mining” technologies to analyze large sets of data.

The EC will also assess if the online use of copyright-protected works, resulting from the investment of creators and creative industries, is properly authorized and remunerated through licenses.

The EC also believes that a wider availability of content will help to fight piracy, given that 22 percent of Europeans believe that illegal downloads are acceptable if there is no legal alternative available in their country. In 2016, the EC will work on a European framework to “follow-the-money” and cut the financial flows to businesses which make money out of piracy, according to the press release.

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