European creators make their voices heard
On December 5, the European Commission held an orientation debate on copyright. The debate was aimed at defining an action plan for the Commission before the end of its mandate in 2014. President Barroso put the topic on the College’s agenda to end the visible dissensions between the French commissioner in charge of copyright, Michel Barnier, and the Dutch vice-president for digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, who accuses copyright of slowing down the digital economy's development.
Several months ago, Mrs Kroes called for a revision of the 2001 directive on copyright in the information society to add new exceptions and reinforce those already existing, considering this revision to be essential to resolving all problems linked to the development of online services and feigning to ignore the multitude of issues involved. By presenting copyright as an enemy to access to culture, Mrs Kroes once again worried and exasperated creators as well as all cultural and creative industries, including the world of cinema.
This orientation debate on December 5 was thus a decisive event for the future of European policy on copyright. It could validate Mrs Kroes’ vision and launch the process of revising the 2001 directive, or sweep aside this attempt to weaken copyright and launch an ambitious policy of copyright modernisation within the respect of its great principles and balances.
Creators did not wait around for their fate to be decided. At the initiative of the Society of Audiovisual Authors, 40 of Europe’s greatest filmmakers (Costa-Gavras, Michel Hazanavicius, Mike Leigh, Wim Wenders, Cristian Mungiu, Andrzej Wajda, etc.) signed an online petition calling for Europe to support its creators and preserve copyright. Launched the week before the meeting at the Commission, the petition gathered over 17,000 signatures from creators and citizens from all countries in seven days!
By adopting a public position, they intended to remind the European Commission, with all its components and political tendencies, of the importance of copyright in the professional life of creators. Limiting the rights of creators in no way stimulates the European economy. On the contrary, as copyright is the basis of cultural and creative industries, it would mean taking away all these European sectors’ ability to create value.
The College of Commissioners finally properly understood this and referred any decision about a possible revision of the 2011 directive to in-depth studies an analyses whose results will be known in 2014. Meanwhile, the “Licensing Europe” initiative suggested by Michel Barnier - a dialogue with all concerned parties on a series of specific issues - is to be launched in 2013 with the aim of finding solutions without affecting existing legislation, by using the tools and flexibility offered by European copyright and, in particular, the will of the cultural and creative industries to respond to public expectations.
This result is a great victory for creators, who intend to fully participate in this exercise and to defend their cultural vision of European copyright
(Translated from French)
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