Content Online – Digital Agenda

Interested in encouraging the development of innovative business models and promoting the cross-border delivery of creative online content services, after a first consultation launched in 2006, in January 2008 the Commission adopted a Communication on Creative Content focused on availability of creative content, multi-territory licensing for creative content, interoperability and transparency of Digital Rights Management systems (DRMs) and legal offers and piracy. This in turn gave way to another focused public consultation in preparation for the adoption of a Recommendation on Creative Content Online by the Council and the European Parliament. Furthermore, the European Commission created a stakeholders’ discussion and cooperation platform, the so-called “Content Online Platforms”, to initiate the work on forthcoming challenges. Eventually, instead of a Recommendation the Commission published in 2009 a reflection document on ”Creative Content in a European Digital Single Market: Challenges for the Future”, and opened a public consultation which ended at the beginning of 2010.
In parallel, in August 2009 the European Commission issued a Communication on “Europe’s Digital Competitiveness Report - Main achievements of the i2010 strategy 2005-2009”, assessing the results of the i2010 strategy, the EU ICT policy promoting the latest communication technologies, new networks and services and creative media content. In warning about the risk for Europe of losing its competitive edge, the document called for a new digital agenda to meet the emerging challenges, to create a world beating infrastructure and unlock the potential of the internet as a driver of growth and the basis for open innovation, creativity and participation. The Commission subsequently launched a public consultation on the post-i2010 priorities; key areas for Europe’s future ICT and media policies included consolidating the online single market (also for digital content) and promoting users’ creativity.
When the new Commission was appointed, the decision was made to rename the content online exercise into the digital strategy to make it more inclusive. On 24 November 2009, President Barroso launched another consultation on the future “EU2020 strategy”, in which the Digital Agenda was announced as one of the key initiatives to deliver on the EU’s future strategic objectives.
In December 2009, the Telecommunications Council adopted conclusions on the post-i2010 strategy, inviting the Commission to develop a new “Digital Agenda for Europe”. On 3 March 2010, the Commission issued a new Communication, “Europe 2020: a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”; one of the flagship initiatives envisaged was “A Digital Agenda for Europe”, which aimed, inter alia, to create a true single market for online content and services. Later that month the Council reached an agreement on the new strategy.
The European Parliament, prompted by the Commission’s first communication, also issued an own initiative report on defining a new Digital Agenda for Europe, by MEP Pilar Del Castillo Vera (EPP, ES). The report fed into the Commission Communication on the Digital Agenda issued on 19 May 2010.
The Digital Agenda for the next five years aims at greatly increasing the number of Europeans using public and commercial services online over the next decade, by creating a true single online market. It outlines seven priority goals for action: creating a digital single market, greater interoperability, boosting internet trust and security, much faster internet access, more investment in R&D, enhancing digital literacy skills and inclusion and applying ICTs to address challenges facing society.
The Digital Agenda envisages a series of actions such as enhancing the governance, transparency and pan-European licensing for (online) rights management by proposing a framework Directive on collective rights management to open up access to legal online content by simplifying copyright clearance, management and cross-border licensing. It also purports to create a legal framework to facilitate the digitisation and dissemination of cultural works in Europe by proposing a Directive on orphan works, and to conduct a dialogue with stakeholders on out-of-print works. The Commission foresees by 2012 a review of the Directive on Re-Use of Public Sector Information; a report after the review of the Enforcement Directive is also due in 2012.

  • FEP has upheld the message that in developing a Digital Agenda for Europe the sustainability of the content aspect is to be taken into due consideration, and has proposed measures to enhance the development of content online in full respect of intellectual property rights. FEP has also been lobbying the Commission and the Parliament to recognise the specificities of the book sector.
  • In view of the adoption of the Digital Agenda report by MEP Pilar Del Castillo Vera (EPP, Spain) by the EP Plenary on 5 May 2010, FEP contacted several relevant MEPs to convey its message.
  • FEP prepared a White Paper on the Digital environment to show the dynamism of publishers in the digital era and lay laid out the opportunities, challenges and possible solutions related to the digital switchover, with a view to enabling a collaborative dialogue and a close working relationship amongst all stakeholders.
  • At the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 2010), FEP launched a petition requesting that the European institutions provide the book publishing sector with a stable copyright environment which will enable readers to continue to enjoy high quality published content for many years to come; the petition focused in particular on the digitisation debate, underlining the importance of diligent search for rightholders and of the need for voluntary solutions for works in copyright. FEP collected about 1100 signatures from senior publishers from all over Europe.
  • On 25 October 2010, FEP participated in the Digital Agenda Stakeholders Day organised by DG Information Society where shortlisted stakeholders with “good ideas” could work in groups in order to build better ideas and be selected to present them to Commissioner Neelie Kroes. FEP’s idea was to organise a European Digital Content day to raise awareness on the legal offers made available by rightsholders on a positive note.