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Industry Report: Digital

Creative Content in a European Digital Single Market: Challenges for the Future


- The European Commission launched a reflection paper on a European Digital Single Market and launched a public consultation calling for fresh ideas for a more vibrant market for online distribution of creative content. The paper highlights the importance of copyright as a basis for creativity in, Europe's cultural heritage.

Creative Content in a European Digital Single Market: Challenges for the Future

The European Commission published on the 22nd October 2009 a reflection paper on the challenge of creating a European Digital Single Market for creative content like books, music, films or video games. According to Commission studies, a truly Single Market without borders for Creative Online Content could allow retail revenues of the creative content sector to quadruple if clear and consumer-friendly measures are taken by industry and public authorities.

The digital availability of content thus presents great opportunities for Europe, but also a number of challenges. First of all, regulatory and territorial obstacles still stand in the way of digital distribution of cultural products and services and can impede creativity and innovation. In addition, illegal downloads on a large scale can jeopardize the development of an economically viable Single Market for digital content; there needs to be much more encouragement for legal cross-border offers.

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Against this background, the reflection paper – drafted jointly by the services of Commissioners Reding and McCreevy – outlines current challenges for three groups of stakeholders – rightholders, consumers and commercial users – and invites everybody interested to participate in a broad debate about the possible European responses to them.

The Commission said that specific consumer- and competition-friendly rules were needed to create a genuine Single Market for creative content on the internet. To do this, it set out three areas where legislative action was needed to:
- Make sure creativity is rewarded so that creators, rightholders, and Europe's cultural diversity can thrive in the digital world;
- Give consumers clearly-priced, legal means of accessing a wide range of content through digital networks anywhere, anytime;
- Promote a level playing field for new business models and innovative solutions for the distribution of creative content across the EU.

In Europe, the cultural and creative sector (which comprises published content such as books, newspapers and magazines, musical works and sound recordings, films, video on demand and video games) generates a turnover of more than € 650 billion annually and contributes to 2.6% of the EU's GDP, employing more than 3% of the EU work force. European policymakers therefore have the responsibility to protect copyright, especially in an evolving economic and technological environment.

As part of the ongoing discussions on the priorities for a European Digital Agenda, and adding to similar debates currently taking place at national level, the Commission now wishes to focus the debate on practical solutions for encouraging new business models, promoting industry initiatives and innovative solutions, as well as on the possible need to harmonise, update or review the applicable rulebook of the EU's single market.

Read the pdf paper

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