Dr Therese Comodini Cachia – Rapporteur on Copyright Reform
Say 'copyright' and often citizens immediately think of how they are unable to access or share music, films, images and news and of the several times when they are faced with messages saying a particular content is not available in their country of residence. This reflects the failure in the market where analogue business models took their time in embracing the opportunities that the digital space provides. Citizens were quicker in changing their habits then most traditional business models were in adapting to new consumer demands. Copyright was caught in this upheaval.
The vacuum that was created between the demands of our citizens who embraced digital lifestyles and the accessibility of creative content online has also brought about new players in the market. We have Internet platforms for streaming, video on demand and IPTV. Internet users can create their content and upload it on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. Photos and books are easily accessible through search engines. News aggregators refer us to articles on any issue we look for, while at the same time blogging and social media has also empowered citizens to become news makers.
Business models online often differ between freemium and premium models but let's be honest, both models generate revenues. Freemium models often make revenues from advertising while premium models generate revenues from subscriptions. What is certainly important however is that while we continue to embrace the digital space we also ensure sustainability of the cultural and creative industries that provide us with art, music, films, books, research and much more of that creative content which is fundamental to European societies. The demand for music, films, books and art continues to grow and this demand can only be sustained by ensuring that creators, those who invest in artists, and those who facilitate the distribution of content receive revenues, a value of copyright.
This situation necessitates a modern copyright framework fit for the digital space; one that ensures that users gain more choice to content and more opportunities to participate online while ensuring that revenue generated from this is fairly distributed thereby enabling reinvestment in the creation of even more content. In Parliament, I am working to ensure we (as users of the internet) retain the accessibility we now enjoy online and to strengthen this, while ensuring that enough new content is created to sustain increasing digital lifestyles.
This work will make it possible for us to access the content we enjoy at home even while we are travelling. So, when we subscribe to online streaming and VOD accounts at home, we will enjoy that music, books and music even while we are travelling. We will also have access to online goods and services without discrimination, based on the fact that we are in Malta. We will not be able to be thrown out of online platforms merely because we are in one particularly country and not in another. Furthermore, we will have more access to broadened catalogues of music and films and books because the attainment of licences by service providers will be facilitated. This is not enough and there are more challenges. These will be the focus of my work on copyright.
Start-Ups and SMEs
In all of this we cannot forget about start-ups and SMEs. They are at the forefront of innovation, creating new jobs and economic sectors. Many initiatives in the Digital Single Market are intended to facilitate their growth and scale up. They are both creators of content that is protected by copyright as well as users of copyrighted content and as such require measures that facilitate their lawful use of content. Consider Spotify, a European company which is a world leader in music subscription services. Start-ups and SMEs are engaged in using text and data mining techniques to innovate and contribute to socio-economic growth. In doing so they innovate methods of, for example, how we treat certain illnesses and how we correctly identify rare diseases. Yet start-ups need to scale up and SMEs need to grow to engage across borders. In doing so they need to challenge big well established companies. I will therefore consider each proposal for reform in this light too.
The creative industry is a market-driven sector; if creation does not result in revenues, the sector will not be able to finance new creations. Therefore, rights holders have legitimate interests which must be considered too. The European Union, (us), needs a sustainable cultural and creative sector where all revenues are fairly shared even when generated from online use. Transparency is one element which may facilitate the creation of level playing fields between stakeholders as well as facilitate fair remuneration for artists and performers.
Citizens as consumers and content generators
"Sorry, this content is not available in your country”. "We have taken down your video because you don’t have the authorisation to use that song”. Users have a right to be creative with content when acting in line with copyright exceptions and limitations. Right holders want users to promote their content online. Platforms want to continue providing a digital service. In all of this, only clear rules and more transparency can bring this about through legal certainty and a balanced approach that addresses the challenges created by copyright with copyright reform.
We also need to have effective measures to address piracy and copyright infringements even when these take place digitally. However, what the copyright exceptions give to citizens in the analogue level should not be taken away at the digital level. In addressing our citizens as content generators, we need to ensure that they continue to exercise their freedoms in line with the copyright exceptions already available. After the launch of the national consultation anyone who is interested in the copyright reform can send his or her feedback on the website page: www.comodinicachia.com/feedback.html.
Read on the Malta Independent
Read on EPP Group website