Our aim is to widen people's access to cultural content online, part of the strategy to build a Digital Single Market.
We want to stimulate cultural diversity; we want more culture circulating across Europe, opening new opportunities for creators and the content industry.
As global culture turns increasingly digital, this also concerns the future of Europe's cultural heritage - films, drama, sport, books. In whatever form it takes, European culture has to be made digitally available on a large scale.
This is why I welcome this blog contribution from my fellow European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, about the importance of culture and creativity within our plans for copyright reform – and on the eve of this year's Berlin International Film Festival, the Berlinale.
Fair rewards for creators, equal conditions for everyone involved in the creativity chain, adequate returns for those who invest in cultural creation: these are all part of what has to be done to make Europe's copyright rules fit for the 21st century.
Much more will come this year on copyright, as set out in the vision paper issued in December and following on from our proposal on cross-border portability of content that was presented at the same time.
This aims to make it easier for people to carry and use their subscribed online music, e-books, games, films, TV series, sport with them, wherever they go in Europe.
Our copyright changes will be gradual, balanced and targeted, with European culture and creativity at their heart.
Copyright reform – how to make it work for Europe's cultural and creative sectors
By Tibor Navracsics
Building a true Digital Single Market is one of the most ambitious projects of the Juncker Commission – and our work now really gets going.
One of our biggest challenges: to ensure that we provide a legislative framework which allows the cultural and creative sectors to fully exploit the new possibilities open to them in the digital age, while making more of our high quality European content legally available to users.
The cultural and creative industries are among those most affected by the digital revolution. They are both knowledge- and labour-intensive and at the forefront of innovation.
They matter because they contribute immensely to Europe's rich cultural diversity and heritage.
They also matter for our economy, employing seven million people and making up 4.2% of the EU's GDP. And they are highly competitive on the global stage - the EU runs a solid trade surplus in copyright-intensive exports of more than €15 billion.
I want to make sure it stays that way.
However, the current copyright framework is inadequate for addressing all the challenges facing these sectors. New participants and new ways of distribution have emerged that were unknown a decade ago when the present copyright legislation came into force.
Let me be clear: the concept of copyright is not part of the problem. It is part of the solution.
What we have to do is to make our copyright rules fit for the digital world - and future-proof in this rapidly changing environment.
The Communication on copyright that the Commission adopted in December of last year was an important first step. We have now identified the objectives and the scope of copyright reform. And, like the European Parliament that has just adopted its position on the Digital Single Market, I believe that what we need are targeted changes, not a complete overhaul.
Two aspects are particularly important to me: fair remuneration for creators and for everyone who is part of the value chain, and clear rules for the use of copyright-protected content in education.
First, fair remuneration.
The digital revolution has opened up access to cultural content to a much greater range of people. I welcome this. Creators want to see their audience grow bigger and are happy to use new distribution channels. However, creators and right holders have a legitimate claim: let's distribute the revenues from the commercial exploitation of cultural content fairly between all parties concerned.
We all enjoy the first class cultural content produced in Europe that forms an integral part of who we are. But this will only continue if we make sure we put the production of cultural content from films to music on a sustainable footing. Creators need to be fairly remunerated, and those who invest in cultural creation have to be certain they will see a return.
Talking about fair remuneration is easy. I know that.
Defining what it is and ensuring revenues are adequately spread is much more difficult.
What we have to do is to define clearly how copyright applies to the online distribution of cultural content. In a second step, we will need to bring more transparency into the remuneration of authors and performers. Contractual practices, the collective management of rights, collective bargaining frameworks and remuneration rights will need to be clarified. Based on the result of the ongoing impact assessment we must not shy away from setting common rules at EU level.
At the end of this process, we should have equal conditions for competition for everyone, from creators to end-users, and a framework that allows all those involved to find workable agreements and resolve disputes efficiently. This will require openness and a will to compromise on all sides.
And importantly, it will require all of us to recognise and accept that creation has a price. Expecting that what you find on the internet is for free seems to be the norm today. This attitude deprives many creators of a fair reward for their work – and risks squeezing the life out of our cultural sectors.
Second, we will need to tackle the uncertainties that surround the exceptions to copyright protection in education. Digital tools offer new opportunities for schools and universities.
But too often, teachers and students are prevented from exploiting them. E-learning and online university courses, the use of digital tools and content in classrooms – they are all hampered by the legal uncertainty created by the fact that Member States are implementing the currently optional copyright exception for education in different ways.
We need to tackle this. I want the education sector to benefit from the new online tools and services.
The Commission is analysing, for instance, how national legislation discriminates between digital and non-digital educational means. We are also looking at how the rules vary due to the type of the educational institution involved: public or private, general or specialised.
This kind of analysis is indispensable. But without prejudice to the results, I believe that we could bring about legal certainty by making the exception for education mandatory and harmonising the rules on how copyright-protected content can be used in this context.
These are sensitive issues, and reaching agreements will most likely be difficult. But we have to find ways forward. For the sake of Europe's competitiveness – and our cultural diversity and heritage.