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Review of the EU copyright Framework: European Implementation Assessment

Written by Stéphane Reynolds
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This ‘European Implementation Assessment’ study aims to provide briefing for the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) ahead of the publication of the Commission’s legislative proposals concerning the modernisation of the EU copyright framework, which are expected towards the end of 2015. Its objective is to help JURI Members achieve a better understanding of the actual gaps and weaknesses in the existing EU framework.

The study originally responds to JURI’s request for an Ex-Post impact assessment on the implementation of Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights (InfoSoc), linked to the non-legislative resolution on the same subject adopted in July 2015, Rapporteur Julia Reda MEP.

The copyright intensive industries, which are principally the cultural and creative industries such as the music business and the visual arts, play an important role in supporting EU economic growth and jobs, employing over 7.5 million people in the EU and contributing around €554.66 billion to the EU economy in 2012, or 4.2% of EU GDP. However, in the digital age, this contribution could be higher in view of the advanced development of the societies and economies of Europe, and especially given Europe’s cultural diversity and wealth, as well as its international influence.

The past 5 to 10 years have seen a very rapid increase in content consumption through digital channels as a result of technological developments, in particular, the widespread roll out and use of new products such as the smart phone, the tablet and internet TV. In contrast to this rapid evolution, a surprisingly low proportion of the revenue generated by these industries corresponds to digital sales. From the available industry data, it may be deduced that total revenue roughly attributable to digital content sales in the EU was most likely below €45 billion in 2012, i.e. no more than 8% of the approximate €554 billion overall revenues generated by the EU’s copyright industries, although this share is growing.

A variety of factors can explain the discrepancy between the extent of digital content consumption in the EU and actual digital sales. Although not all factors relate to the EU legal framework’s weaknesses, a modernisation exercise is likely to resolve many issues. Accordingly this European Implementation Assessment starts by focusing on the main EU instrument establishing an EU legal framework on copyright, which has not been updated or replaced since coming in to force, that is Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.

The study is divided into:

  1. an introduction presenting an overall analysis and summary of findings,
  2. an Ex-Post Impact Assessment on the InfoSoc Directive and related EU laws, and
  3. three EU Added Value briefing papers presenting options for reforming the copyright framework focusing on Legal Aspects, the Internal Market, and Industrial Relations.

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