Commission dilutes copyright reform in digital strategy

The Commission plans to tackle "unfair" parcel delivery charges. [Shutterstock]

Rights holders breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday (6 May), when the European Commission unveiled its Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy. The executive’s determination to tackle copyright reform has waned in the face of fierce oppposition. EURACTIV France reports.

The crucial questions of copyright, geo-blocking and personal data protection, which are all covered by the new legal framework, were not addressed in detail in the Commission’s new digital strategy.

In fact, the project is lagging behind schedule: MEP Julia Reda’s report, which was due for adoption in the European Parliament’s April plenary session, has still not been put to the vote.

And after the strong words of the 2014 electoral campaign, the Commissioners have somewhat diluted its stance on these subjects, which had triggered particularly strong reactions from the French cultural sector.

>> Read: Cultural industries unite against copyright reform

Even on geo-blocking, the most advanced subject, the Commission is showing no great ambition.

Gently dismantling geo-blocking

The French Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers (SACD) welcomed the fact that “the need to preserve the value of works, which rely largely on territorial financing, is expressly stated as an objective to take into consideration” in the new strategy.

The Civil Society of Multimedia Authors (SCAM) no longer appears overly worried by the subject either. “Any changes must be negotiated so as not to destroy the territorial exclusivity of broadcasters and distributers. We have to do lots of consultation on the subject and take our time,” said Hervé Rony from SCAM.

Despite being one of the stated priorities of the Juncker Commission, copyright reform does not appear at the centre of the new digital strategy. This change of gear is surely not unrelated to the outcry from of authors, copyright collectives and the governments of certain countries, including France, that followed the Commission’s work programme.

Parcel delivery and Eurodisney

Following several consultations, opinions are also more nuanced within the European executive.

>> Read: Lucas Belvaux: ‘This copyright reform will impoverish culture’

“We can see that the Commission has found another hobbyhorse in e-commerce, where the financial stakes are higher,” a lobbyist said. The stakes are also easier to understand: the Commission has promised to deal with differences in the price of parcel services and tickets to Eurodisney.

Belgian Socialist MEP Marc Tarabella said “I have brought the case of Eurodisney to the Commission’s attention. The price of a ticket for the theme park is different if you buy it in France, in Belgium or in Germany. This is unacceptable discrimination.”

>> Read: Copyright reform or cultural nightmare

The French Minister of Culture, Fleur Pellerin, has "welcomed the progress marked by the Commission's consideration of certain aspects of the copyright debate, in particular the willingness to clarify the status of technical intermediaries and to improve the respect of copyright".

The modernisation of copyright law is one of the priorities of Jean-Claude Juncker's presidency of the European Commission.

"All sectors of the economy and society are becoming digital. Europe should be on the front line of this digital revolution for its citizens and businesses. Obstacles to digitalisation are obstacles to employment, prosperity and progress," he said during his announcement of the European executive's work programme.

Jean-Claude Juncker's strategy for a single European market is as follows: to build confidence between stakeholders, to bulldoze obstacles, to guarantee connectivity and access to digital technology across the EU, to build a digital economy, to promote e-society and invest in research in technology and information.

Andrus Ansip, the Vice-President of the Digital Single Market, is leading this initiative.

European Commission

European Parliament

French Senate

French High Council for Literary and Artistic Property



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