The fragmentation of the EU’s intellectual-property regime must be corrected, IT and telecoms companies have warned, as the European Commission prepares to announce a series of reforms.
Michel Barnier, the European commissioner for the internal market, is expected to launch his long-awaited strategy on intellectual property rights (IPR) on 18 May, which could lead to sweeping reforms of Europe’s copyright system.
Barnier’s strategy announcement will be a foretaste of separate pieces of legislation to be announced in more detail before the end of the year, on issues including a possible EU-wide copyright in order to fight piracy, proposals for orphan works (books in copyright but with untraceable rights holders) and collective rights management.
Some industry representatives fear that Barnier’s proposals will not go far enough to end the “fragmentation” that sees vastly different copyright systems in different member states. Others are concerned that specific issues will be either excluded from the strategy altogether (there are fears there will be no mention of copyright levy reform) or will create additional problems for industry – such as holding internet service providers responsible for breaches of copyright.
Bridget Cosgrave, the director-general of DigitalEurope, which represents the IT, consumer electronics and telecommunications sectors, said the strategy launch would be a chance to address all obstacles related to IPR in the global digital market. She said that the digital industry sector “remains gravely concerned about the problem of fragmentation in the EU”, but hoped the strategy would help meet the Commission’s objectives for productivity and growth.
The music industry is watching as closely as the technology sector, with Barnier expected to announce reforms of how copyright payments are collected.
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