10 December 2015Copyright

European Commission outlines first legislative DSM proposal

The European Commission announced its first legislative proposal under the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy, which aims to harmonise copyright laws across the EU.

Yesterday, December 9, Andrus Ansip, vice-president for the DSM, and Günther Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy and society, announced a series of issues that would be examined within the next six months.

The commission’s first legislation proposal concerns the relaxing of the restriction on the transfer of copyright-protected content. Under the draft proposal, an online content service provider can allow a subscriber “temporarily present” in a different member state to access the purchased content.

For instance, a UK subscriber to Netflix can access the UK version of the site while it is temporarily in Germany. The proposal, however, did not outline the time scale defined under “temporarily present”.

Ansip said: “We want to ensure the portability of content across borders. People who legally buy content—films, books, football matches, TV series—must be able to carry it with them anywhere they go in Europe. This is a real change.”

Julia Reda, a member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party and who was tasked with conducting a review into European copyright law, welcomed the regulation on portability.

However, she said it did not go far enough, noting that it is only for temporary travel.  “We need more than just roaming for Netflix,” she said.

The commission also said it will take steps to implement the Marrakesh Treaty, which requires jurisdictions to provide access to copyright-protected content to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Furthermore, it will examine steps into harmonising copyright exceptions across the EU, including allowing public institutions to carry out text and data mining of legally obtained content.

Also, a review will be conducted on wh ether further action is needed on the definition of “communication to the public” and “making available”—legal standards applied by EU courts to determine whether a party’s action is infringing.

Ted Shapiro, partner at law firm Wiggin, said the commission’s intention is “mostly about weakening exclusive rights and reducing contractual freedom through the steady erosion of copyright territoriality and the imposition of pan-EU exceptions”.

But he warned that the commission has a difficult job balancing the rights of stakeholders while carrying out its “reform concerning the role of intermediaries and enforcement tools”.

The commission also announced the beginning of a public consultation on the DSM strategy and is seeking the views of right owners, lawyers and public authorities on the strategy.

The consultation will end April 1, 2016.

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