Commission Vice-President Kroes speaks on e-publishing

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes delivered a speech during the Frankfurt book fair yesterday where she laied our her ideas for the e-publishing sector. The full text is available here.

Here is a short summary of her speech:

Digitisation of cultural works

  • ICT companies, rights holders and libraries must work together closely to digitise cultural works in Europe. The Commission welcomes the involvement of the private sector to widen access to cultural content.
  • if accepted, the proposed directive on orphan works will help build demand for digital content. Large-scale digitisation of public-interest works will build a user base that can become the driver for commercial works.

Cross-border licensing/ internal market

  • unlike the audio-visual sector, cross-border licensing is not a particular problem in the publishing sector.
  • the recent premier league case highlights that we are starting to ask the right questions about the relationship between copyright issues and the internal market
  • this is an encouraging development.
  • Kroes regrets that e-books are taxed higher than physical copies in most member states – tax regimes should not “pick winners” in an industry with the potential to grow.

Copyright reforms:

  • there is a need for reform the copyright system to take full advantage of new, innovative online business models that bring copyrighted works to large audiences

Interoperability of standards

  • the interoperability of the e-publishing sector needs to be improved. Consumers need to be able to shift their digital content between all digital devices – this would benefit consumers and smaller publishers.