Europe pioneered the concept of copyright over 250 years ago. Today European copyright industries are among the world leaders in areas such as publishing, music, software and films, and scientific works. By ensuring proper reward for creativity, strong copyright protection has sustained investment in the creation,promotion anddistribution of those works around the world. These creative industries are a powerful and increasingly important part of Europe’s economy. They form a sector estimated to be worth 360 billion ecus.
Today, however, as Europe and the rest of the world prepare to adapt their copyright regimes to fit the new digital society, there are alarmists who claim that copyright protection will impede the development of electronic commerce. In fact, the opposite is true – without strong,sustained copyright protection, Europe’s cultural, information and entertainment creators and industries will be unable to benefit from the new opportunities offered by digital delivery, and there will be will less, not more, European content available.
The EU Copyright Directive is the key to Europe’s cultural future. It is also Europe’s opportunity to set a global example in establishing a strong copyright regime for the information society. Yet there are some misapprehensions about what rights holders need from this vital piece of legislation:
Facts and falsehoods – misapprehensions about copyright
Claim: A strong European Copyright Directive will stunt cultural diversity, inhibit competition, undermine the role of smaller actors and stifle the development of the information society.
Fact: On the contrary, copyright guarantees diversity and will stimulate competition in the information society. It is the small players – artists, authors, small companies and consumers – who stand to benefit most from strong copyright. Creators will have nothing but copyright protection to ensure that their efforts are rewarded. Millions of consumers will have easier access, through the internet and other media,to different and disparate cultural works. Artists, authors and producers will be able to reach a huge European public without intermediaries or the technical limitations and physical borders which today inhibit them – but only if they are given the right conditions to do so.
Claim: Strong copyright punishes the consumer. Many of the things they can do now, such as copying for private purposes, will become illegal or subject to permission or payment – even though they do no damage to the
Fact: Wrong. Strong copyright gives the consumer quality, choice and value. As regards what consumers can do now in the analogue world – for example, making tapes at home or for the car, or buying books in a shop – absolutely nothing will change. In the digital environment it’s true that things are different, because digital technology changes the whole interaction between providers of works and their consumers.In this new environment, digital copying gives the consumer a perfect “clone” that replaces a retail sale. Furthermore, the information society will to a large extent eliminate the distinction between commercial and private activities.
Direct delivery to individuals, like a host of other new commercial activities, will in future often take place in the privacy of the home.There will be tailor-made services where the consumer can pay exactly for what he wants and no more. Everybody wants to license that kind of use, and digital technical controls will allow them to do so against licence. In fact in the new environment, digital private copying will hurt right holders: it will substitute for retail sales, inhibit electronic commerce, erode the livelihoods of creators and leave consumers with few original works left to buy.
Claim: Right holders want to restrict the special privileges that are enjoyed now by libraries and education.
Fact: Right holders are not seeking to stop libraries and education from using their works. They simply want to ensure that in the information society their own commercial activities are not undermined by such uses. In fact, there will be no dramatic change from the present situation. Today, libraries and educational establishments have to buy works before using them, and their lending and photocopying activities are in most EU Member States subject to remuneration schemes which reward rights holders. Much the same will happen in the digital world, through proper licensing schemes.
Claim: Right holders want to lock up their works and public domain information. In future, nothing will be accessed or used without payment.
Fact: You cannot use copyright to “lock up” information, because information in itself- like facts and ideas – is not protected by copyright. However, that does not mean that the material incorporating the information should be accessible for free. You cannot steal a newspaper or a book from a shop just because it contains information. In the information society, allowing works to be accessed or used by payment is no more “locking up” information than selling books to consumers is today. Besides, why should rights holders seek to “lock up” the very works which they need to disseminate to make a living?
It’s a myth that everything on the Internet could be available for free. Any work that comes out of creativity and investment needs to be properly rewarded whatever the technology by which it is getting to the consumer. If you throw out this basic economic principle, you will have a European information society full of cables and computers, but without any cultural content.
Claim: Right holders want to extend protection of technical measures to the point where even computers and video recorders that innocently circumvent them would be illegal. Equipment manufacturers will be forced to re-design equipment to comply with any measures developed by rights holders- this will stifle innovation in the information society.
Fact: Wrong. Copyright protection will be rendered meaningless if it is not accompanied by a legal right to stop technical measures being circumvented.To be most effective this right should be the same for all categories of works. However, right holders do not want to outlaw or force the redesign of all equipment which could be used to circumvent technical protection systems. They only want to outlaw equipment which is designed with the intention to circumvent. This will pose no problem for legitimate manufacturers or distributors of computer or other equipment. It will only catch those that are producing or marketing devices that are intended to be used for circumvention. As for the threat to innovation, the real threat will be if the technical measures on which the creativity of content providers depends are left exposed to easy circumvention by pirates and hackers.
Claim: Technical protection of right holders will stop consumers and special groups like libraries from engaging in activities for which they have an exception to copyright. It should be legal to bypass technical protection for legitimate activities.
Fact: The exception to copyright for public lending does not make it legitimate – or necessary – to break into a locked library and help yourself freely to the books.The truth is that exceptions can be managed practically, as they often are now, on the basis of agreements with right holders. Allowing technical measures to be bypassed for legitimate activities would open the way for the manufacture and distribution of any circumventing devices as long as they may be used for legitimate purposes.In effect, this permits unlimited circumvention. This is no solution : once those bypassing devices are out on the market, how will it will be possible to make sure they are only used legitimately? It is far from in the public interest to allow such a high risk of fraud. Technical protection can be managed in a way which allows for certain exceptions from copyright on the basis of agreements that suit all parties.
30 June, 1998
ARTIS GEIE – Groupement Européen représentant les Organismes de Gestion
Collective des Droits des Artistes-Interprètes ou Exécutants
AFMA EUROPE – Independent Motion Picture and Television Industry
EFCA – European Film Companies Alliance
EFJ – European Federation of Journalists
EUROCINEMA – Association de Producteurs
ENPA – European Newspaper Publishers Association
EPC – European Publishers Council
EWC – European Writers’ Congress
FAEP – Fédération Européenne d’Editeurs de Périodiques
FEP – Federation of European Publishers
FERA/AIDAA – Fédération européenne des Réalisateurs de l’Audiovisuel/Association
Internationale des Auteurs de l’Audiovisuel
FIA – Fédération Internationale des Artistes Interprètes
FIM – Fédération Internationale des Musiciens
FIAPF – International Federation of Film Producers Associations
GESAC – Groupement Européen des Sociétés d’Auteurs et Compositeurs
ICMP/CIEM – International Confederation of Music Publishers/
Confédération Internationale des Editeurs de Musique
IFPI – International Federation of the Phonographic Industry
IFRRO – International Federation of Reprographic Rights Organisations
ISFE – Interactive Software Federation Europe
IVF – International Video Federation
MPA – Motion Picture Association
SPA – Software Publishers Association
STM – International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical
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