Barnier Ignores L&E as IP Reform Tools

C4C remains concerned by the views of Michel Barnier, the member of the European Commission responsible for Internal Market and Services. The Licensing Europe stakeholder dialogues he is convening and his schedule of speaking to diverse groups – most recently at the MIDEM trade show this week for music industry professionals – would seem to denote an inclusive, open minded approach to copyright policy. But a closer look at Commissioner Barnier’s remarks yesterday to the MIDEM audience in Cannes, France shows an ongoing reliance on licensing as a near-exclusive tool for transforming the system.

Not once in his MIDEM speech, for instance, did he mention limitations and exceptions to copyright as ingredients for success. He instead discussed conveniences like “multi-territorial licenses” and online “one click” licensing services as ideas for progress. Commissioner Barnier’s vision of reform, in other words, seems focused on finding easier ways for rightsholders to collect money. Commissioner Barnier suggested he would also expand licensing in areas that clearly seem impractical, like not-for-profit User-Generated-Content (UGC).

Despite Commissioner Barnier’s stated goal to “ensure dynamism in Europe” through the Licensing Europe initiative and forge an “effective and efficient intellectual property system,” the result will be neither if he continues his myopic reliance on licensing as a singular lever for reform. This is all the more troubling, given the months of input the Commission has already received from C4C and other groups on the need for L&E and other reform measures to augment any steps on licensing.

While addressing his music industry audience, Commissioner Barnier noted how 500 million European consumers use up to 250 online music services to fuel a 6 billion euro industry. By rattling off such statistics, he seems to understand the stakes, but not the stakeholder input so far or the likely solutions. The upcoming stakeholder dialogues will provide a formal channel for participating C4C members and others to amplify concerns they’ve been voicing for quite some time. We hope that Commissioner Barnier will be listening.