The Digital Single Market and Copyright: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

BRUSSELS, 6 MAY 2015 – First, there was the long awaited coming of Princess Charlotte and now, the European Commission finally gives birth to its often leaked ‘Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’. What an exciting month of May!

Looking at the copyright elements in this Communication, Copyright 4 Creativity has identified three ways of defining them:

  • The Good: it is refreshing to see a Commission embrace the idea that modernising copyright is needed and that harmonisation is the way to go. ‘If anyone can stand up with a straight face and claim that a Directive that was adopted in 2001 – when Facebook, YouTube, WordPress and most of the online places Internet users now spend their time at – is still fit for purpose today, they truly deserve an Oscar (or a Caesar, if one wants to be more European)‘, states Caroline De Cock, coordinator of the C4C Coalition. ‘The inclusion of such important areas as text and data mining, portability, greater legal certainty for cross-border activities in general and education and research in particular, etc. is notably a very encouraging signal that this reform will be about enabling innovation and growth of the entire EU economy and that copyright is not just about Hollywood blockbusters’.
  • The Bad: while some specific areas are tackled, the copyright items put forward in this action plan do not always read as being overwhelmingly ambitious. While going for a toned down compromise is a very normal feature in the Brussels scene, it is a bit disappointing that the toning down is happening so early in the process. ‘One can only hope that this is not due to tough compromises having to be struck within a single institution, rather than the usual inter-institution dialogues. The Commission must now take steps to deliver a real modernisation and true harmonisation of copyright‘, Caroline De Cock  considers.
  • The Ugly: well that part is likely to be for the next months and years, when the details pertaining to the principles set out today get rolled out (or rolled over) by the institutions, and the fight truly begins. ‘Let’s hope it doesn’t get too ugly, and even more importantly, that the outcome is one that improves the situation both of creators and of innovators across Europe and enhances the access to content for all users, be it citizens or institutional users. Only then will this copyright review have delivered what citizens expected from it‘, Caroline De Cock concludes.

Note – this press release can be downloaded in PDF format here.