Friday

28th Apr 2017

Copyright file moves to pro-digital commissioner

  • Ansip (l) will take over Oettinger's portfolio, temporarily at least (Photo: European Commission)

European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has tasked commissioner Andrus Ansip to temporarily take responsibility for the digital economy portfolio, which includes copyright reform.

Ansip will take over on 1 January 2017 from commissioner Guenther Oettinger, who moves on to the budget portfolio, the commission announced on Wednesday (21 December).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Ansip was already partly responsible for the copyright file, as digital single market vice-president of the commission.

Copyright reform is a sensitive, heavily lobbied issue, on which Ansip and Oettinger expressed some differences of opinion, with Ansip showing more openness to the new digital era, while Oettinger has sided with current rights-holders of copyrighted content.

One source said Ansip had more eye for the interests of consumers than Oettinger.

Last year, for example, Ansip announced he would like to end all geo-blocking, which is the practice of limiting access to online services based on a user's location.

For some companies offering digital copyrighted content, geo-blocking is part of the business model.

To consumers, however, it can be a nuisance. Those who want to use BBC's iPlayer, for example, cannot do so outside of the United Kingdom.

Ansip has repeatedly spoken out against geo-blocking.

“I hate geo-blocking,” the Estonian commissioner has said several times, arguing that it should be banned.

Cultural diversity

In a March 2015 interview, Oettinger slightly mocked Ansip's remark on geo-blocking.

“I hate my alarm clock at five o'clock in the morning,” Oettinger said, noting that “we should protect our cultural diversity”.

Ansip himself has frequently played down the apparent diverging views between him and Oettinger.

“We were always able to find consensus with Gunther Oettinger,” he told journalists last month.

Ansip said it was a “simplification” to say they stood at two ends of a spectrum.

“There are different interests in our society. I think [EU] proposals will be much better if you take into account all those different interests.”

Damage already done

Julia Reda, a left-wing MEP from the German Pirate party, told this website in a written comment that Ansip has “shown much more understanding for the technological details of the portfolio” than Oettinger.

However, the legislative proposal for copyright reform was published in September. It was presented by Ansip and Oettinger together.

While the commission promised that access to online content would become easier, it did not ban geo-blocking altogether, as Ansip would have wanted.

Reda, wrote a report about copyright for the parliament last year.

Reda, who wants the copyright regime to be less strict, hopes Anip will be "more open" to take her side, but said she doubted that Ansip would be able to change the file significantly.

“The commission's opportunity to present a real modernisation and harmonisation of the copyright regime has been missed, so despite the reshuffle in the commission, the damage is done,” she said.

It is now up to the European Parliament and member states to say how they want to amend it.

Oettinger's portfolio becomes available because the German will take over the budget and human resources portfolio from Kristalina Georgieva, who has taken a job at the World Bank.

It is unclear who Bulgaria will send to replace Georgieva, and which portfolio this new Bulgarian commissioner will be responsible for.

Focus

EU commissioners at odds over geo-blocking

EU digital commissioner Andrus Ansip and his fellow commissioner Gunther Oettinger are at odds with one another over the need to abolish the practice of restricting online content based on someone's location.

EU targets Google in copyright reform

Publishers welcomed EU proposals for a new right that could see them take a bite out of Google's income, but some say the law could end up hurting Google's smaller rivals.

EP adopts 'watered down' copyright report

MEPs have adopted keenly-awaited proposals they'd like to see in the commission’s forthcoming copyright reform, but they were roundly criticised by all sides.

EU telecom watchdog plan dead on arrival

The European Commission wants to upgrade the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications into an agency, but both the parliament and member states are against it.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well,Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  2. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  3. One year later: EU right to open Internet still virtual
  4. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  5. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  6. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending
  7. May accuses EU-27 of 'lining up against Britain'
  8. Resurrected Renzi to regain leadership of Italy's ruling party