The European Commission has agreed a two-year plan aimed at reaching an agreement on digital copyright reform. From early 2013, it will start talks with stakeholders on six core issues, where it says "rapid progress is needed". The issues are cross-border portability of content, user-generated content, data- and text-mining, private copy levies, access to audiovisual works and cultural heritage. The discussions will explore the potential and limits of new licensing and technological solutions for updating EU copyright law and practices for the digital age. This process will be jointly led by commissioners Michel Barnier (internal market), Neelie Kroes (ICT) and Androulla Vassiliou (culture and media). By the end of next year, the commission will assess the outcome of the talks and decide whether new regulations or legislation are needed.
Over the medium term, the EC will also work on relevant market studies, impact assessment and legal drafting work, ahead of the possible introduction of legislation in 2014. This work will focus on mitigating the effects of territoriality in the internal market; agreeing appropriate levels of harmonisation, limitations and exceptions to copyright in the digital age; how best to reduce the fragmentation of the EU copyright market; and how to improve the legitimacy of enforcement in the context of wider copyright reform.
In response to the EC statement, the major telecom industry lobby groups renewed their call for a greater focus on creating affordable, legal content offerings on the internet and digital TV. The GSMA, EuroISPA, ETNO and ETCA said in a joint statement that a major rethink of the copyright framework is needed, in order to eliminate the dominant role of rights brokers. In their opinion, the current systems discriminate against broadband distribution, in favour of protecting outdated physical distribution channels and business models.
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