Sven Hoppe /
25 July 2014Copyright

Harmonised copyright system suggested in EU report

Consumers and organisations in the EU have proposed a “common copyright” system to avoid problems such as a failure to access certain websites and online course materials, the European Commission has revealed.

The findings were revealed in a report detailing feedback from a consultation of copyright rules throughout Europe.

Held between December last year and March this year the consultation attracted more than 9,000 responses, the commission said in a feedback document published on July 23.

According to the document, the consultation included questions on “territoriality in the internal market, harmonisation, limitations and exceptions to copyright in the digital age; fragmentation of the EU copyright market”.

Among the respondents were internet users, collective management organisations, 11 member states including France and the UK, as well as libraries and universities.

Some of the most frequently highlighted concerns centred on problems with trying to access certain websites in other EU countries.

“They [internet users] state that they are regularly confronted with access restrictions depending on the geographic location of their IP address,” the commission’s report said.

Examples include a YouTube video that was blocked by management organisations, and services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Spotify, in some but not all member states.

“Some end users/consumers call for a ‘common copyright’ in Europe,” the commission said, adding that some users had referenced the Wittem Project, a collaboration of copyright stakeholders concerned with EU copyright law, as an example.

“These users believe that a single copyright title would do away with territorial restrictions and allow for content to be freely accessed, purchased and transferred across the entire EU market.

“In general, end users/consumers would like to be able to access all content from any online stores whether directed to the member state in which they reside or not,” the commission wrote.

Libraries and universities that responded to the consultation also revealed the difficulties faced when trying to access services.

“Libraries report that it is very difficult to negotiate licences and manage subscriptions for multiple member states. Universities point to problems that students face in accessing online educational resources when they are not resident in the country of the university (e.g. online courses),” it said.

However, publishers, producers and broadcasters did not support the idea.

They said they were afraid that a common copyright system would eliminate special safeguards and reduce right holders’ level of protection.

The commission said it will use the results to compose a white paper before deciding whether to take further action.

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