Working to build a Digital Single Market for Europe - planning the future

In my last blog, I promised to give you a flavour of how the European Commission plans to move ahead with building a connected #DigitalSingleMarket (DSM).

This afternoon, I hosted the first high-level meeting between all the "DSM Commissioners" to kick off five years of teamwork. It was a very motivated atmosphere, with a great spirit of cooperation.

You can see us starting the meeting:

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of 'procedure'. Content is what really matters. However, it was important straightaway to discuss how we will work together, the practicalities. But from now on, the focus is on making concrete progress.

We discussed and agreed on major priorities, work areas and a realistic timetable for moving forward over the next six months, as the way forward to creating an overall DSM strategy. This will be a very comprehensive exercise to be carried out over a very short time period.

We will focus first on the real problems and obstacles, and look at different policy options. Our work is divided into six themed areas, each involving the input and participation of several Commissioners. I'll detail a couple of these to give the general idea.

One area of work will be about building trust and confidence. Both of these are vital if a DSM is to exist in Europe and function properly. Everyone needs to be at ease about problem-free accessing of services across borders, and as much at ease about doing this online as they are offline. In policy terms, this means moving further on consumer rights, data protection and cyber-security: a very wide range of cross-cutting issues.

Another relates to removing restrictions (and preventing new ones) and particularly to stop blocking of online consumers based on their location or residence. This will be about reforming copyright rules and getting rid of unjustified curbs on transfer and access to digital assets. Is there anyone who would not want to get rid of geo-blocking, which goes against the core principles of Europe's single market?

Our other areas of work will aim to guarantee online access, connectivity and investment; build the digital economy; promote e-society; and stimulate digital innovation and research to make sure Europe remains a world ICT leader.

The idea is to come up with a fully developed DSM strategy by May 2015. We'll be listening carefully along the way, consulting all the time to make sure that we get it right.

More blogging next week.



JH's picture

Geo-blocking of archive material, eg HathiTrust

I'm glad to hear things got off to an energetic start.

Do you have any views on geo-blocking of archive material, specifically scans of material published between the 1870s and 1923 ?

This material has been digitised from libraries across the world, and is made openly available by organisations like the HathiTrust and GoogleBooks.

However, only readers with a U.S.-based IP address can read it -- because U.S. law has a very clean cut-off date that all material published before 1923 is in the public domain.

But the same books cannot be accessed by Europeans, because our "Life+70" copyright term effectively makes it impossible to clear old books in bulk, as it is very hard to confirm who the authors, illustrators, engravers etc were, and where they went next, to discover when they died. As a result, both Google and Hathi lock Europeans out from reading our own history for all books published after the 1870s.

This is a huge loss for individuals persuing family history, local history, social history etc -- these books are long out of print, their original terms of copyright when they were first published long expired; but cannot be legally shown to Europeans because of the clearance nightmare of the "Life+" copyright rule, even though Americans can freely read them.

Will you therefore aim to put a hard cut-off on copyright terms (renegotiating Berne if necessary), so that anything published before eg 95 years ago is automatically clear, without having to research when the author lived or died -- and in other aspects of the copyright brief, eg copyright terms, copyright exclusions, fair use etc, will you make it an objective to try to achieve transatlantic coherence, not just European coherence, so that there is a single law of copyright for material on the internet, no matter which side of the Atlantic it is published ?

Christer's picture

New slogan

With a German Commissioner in charge of the Digital Economy & Society, the new slogan "Digital for Europe" is perfect. In shorthand it becomes "DE", or short for Deutschland, the Commissioner's homeland.

Marketa Trimble's picture


If I may contribute some thoughts on geoblocking (limiting access to content on the Internet based on geographical location of the user):

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