Let people download music by text message, says EP report
By Benjamin Fox
The EU should allow people to pay for downloaded music by text message, according to a European Parliament report on the audiovisual sector.
The proposal is one of the key reforms offered by Jean Marie Cavada, the French centre-right MEP responsible for drafting the parliament's position in response to a Green paper on the online audiovisual market published last summer by the European Commission.
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In the explanatory statement annexed to his report, Mr Cavada stated that "the parliament unequivocally acknowledges the need to protect authors' rights" adding that "we must now focus our effort on providing legal certainty in the online environment in Europe and make sure that there is not inequality of treatment between the online and offline markets."
Both Cavada and Polish centre-right MEP Piotr Borys of the Legal Affairs committee, also want to see reduced VAT rates for online cultural content in a bid to boost the digital market, alongside tough measures to block access to illegal downloads, particularly through web streaming sites.
The report, which will be debated in and amended by the Parliament's Culture committee, received cautious approval from the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA).
SAA spokesman James Taylor commented that while the report "covers many of the issues that the sector is faced with," the text "still needs some work to go beyond general principles and to offer precise political support to new mechanisms that would ensure that for screenwriters and directors get a fair share from the online distribution of their works.”
The report's publication comes as MEPs await long-anticipated legislation on collective rights management from the commission.
At last month's plenary session in Strasbourg, internal market commissioner Michel Barnier told MEPs that legislation on collective rights management was imminent, with the EU executive having concluded a public consultation on the legislation.
“We want to provide a clear legal framework to facilitate the granting of multi-territory online music licensing”, Barnier said.
Commission officials are said to be close to resolving details on harmonising transparency and governance rules for copyright societies; and developing new rules to allow multi-territory online music licensing.
However, the Cavada report offers only a lukewarm response to the idea of multi-territory licensing, describing it as "inappropriate to impose a legal requirement...since the commercial demand for such licences is extremely limited."
Meanwhile, Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes wants legislation on multi-sector licensing, which would radically change the way royalties are sold. This should be put forward alongside a paper on 'Connected TV' looking at ways to increase consumer access to television on demand and gaming. It is anticipated that up to 90 percent of TVs will be connected to the Internet by 2015.