New Initiatives by the European Commission and UK

The Copyright and Enforcement Directorate of the UK’s Intellectual Property Office has reported on two new EU developments in a broadcast email. Since I can’t find the URL for the Directorate [I can’t either – ed], I’m left to summarize:

The European Commission has published two recent papers which will impact on our industry:

A New Strategy for the Single Market: This report addresses the challenges to the single market. The report comments on the ill-adapted IP legislation as a barrier to economic progress. It also recognizes that low-cost and legally secure protection of IPRs is of great importance.

The paper proposes, inter alia:

  • An EU-wide copyright law, including an EU framework for copyright clearance and management;
  • Harmonized copyright levies on blank media and equipment (to simplify the business environment); and
  • Adoption of the EU-wide patent and a single patent jurisdiction as a matter of urgency.

A Digital Agenda for Europe: This first initiative is under the Commission’s flagship “Europe 2020” economic program and its main Telecoms and Copyright strategy document.

The text is very wide ranging.  The Paper considers transactions in the digital environment to be too complex, with inconsistent implementation of the rules across member states.

It concludes that the EU needs to enhance the protection against online violations of intellectual property rights.

Intellectual Property-related key points in the Digital Agenda include:

  • A commitment on reforming governance of collecting societies, and a new initiative to look into cross-border licensing.
  • A commitment to orphan works legislation, and looking into out-of-print works
  • A commitment to evaluate (not revise) the EU E-commerce Directive this year; and
  • A commitment to strengthening Europeana, the European digital library.

Meanwhile, UK’s telecommunications regulator Ofcom has published its consultation on its draft code of practice to reduce online copyright infringement as part of its new duties under the Digital Economy Act 2010: Online Infringement of Copyright and the Digital Economy Act 2010.

As austerity bites, many European countries have to reduce government expenditure as a proportion of GDP – some have started already. Figures in the range of 5% to 10% of GDP are bandied around. These will bite very deeply into initiatives, delivery and operations. Individual departments and agencies could well be subjected to reductions of 25%.

One also can’t see the EU escaping this development since it is funded to the extent of approx 1.24% of the Union’s gross national income (GNI), by individual countries (0.73% of their GNI), duties charged on imports from non-EU states, and a VAT component.

So while all the above initiatives are reality, one wonders what effect these austerity measures will have on them over time.

Bill Jones is CEO of Global Village Ltd.

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