EU Commissioner Advocates EU Wide Copyright and Censorship Regimes

November 23, 2005. Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, gave a speech [6 pages in PDF] in Montpellier, France titled "Why Broadband Needs Content".

She said that "If we want growth and jobs, if we want better lives for citizens and if we want to retain Europe's position at the front of the global telecommunications industry then we have to clear away the barriers to the development of new, high-value, content-rich and interactive services."

She identified several such regulatory barriers. She advocated single European copyright regime. She advocated a single European content censorship regime that would apply to broadcast television, and all other audiovisual content services. She also spoke in vague terms about digital rights management (DRM).

EU Copyright Regime. She said that "we need a common approach to Intellectual Property Rights in the European Union." She added that there must be "robust copyright protection and clear rules on liability for online-distribution, EU-wide and beyond".

Viviane RedingShe elaborated that "copyright continues to be closely linked to national territories inside the EU" and that "content is licensed still at national level, and not for the entire EU". She concluded that "we have to start calling into question the territoriality of copyright protection in Europe."

She also stated that "we will not be able to boost Europe's digital economy without tackling the fragmentation both of its telecommunications and of its content markets."

Digital Rights Management. She stated that "Authors, artists, creators should be able to reap a due reward for their talent and skills. As long as the broadband internet is seen as lawless frontier, then the strong services I spoke earlier will not appear. But we do have tools that can help establish law and order for the benefit of all. We have are Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies already available that can make distribution of content secure while giving users safeguards that the content and services are safe, reliable and backed up by reputable service suppliers. But we need DRMs that are widely accepted. In particular, we need to know that they are interoperable, that they are used in a reasonable manner, that market access is open."

Content Censorship. She stated that "Content rules can no longer be limited to traditional broadcasting. Television services are increasingly available on the Internet and they are also going mobile. We need a modern framework to make sure that these new services will grow strongly and correctly. We need a level playing field between the different audiovisual content service providers, in particular with respect to the rules applying to the protection of minors and human dignity. We also need legal certainty for the new audiovisual service providers so that services can be offered on a Pan-European basis."

She added that "We cannot expect Europe to lead the way if innovators and entrepreneurs are confronted with 25 or more different regulatory regimes. Moreover, we will not make progress if we burden new services with regulatory obligations."

Finally, she said that "there will be no internet quotas as long as I am Commissioner."