Intellectual property rights and the EU single market
Copyright policy, in particular, is designed as "enabling legislation" allowing for the management of rights in the most efficient way, thereby setting appropriate incentives for creation and investment, innovative business models, the promotion of cultural diversity and the broadest possible dissemination of works for the benefit of society as a whole. Worth mentioning in this context are two initiatives. First, the Communication on a Single Market for Intellectual Property Rights51 (IPR) (2011), presenting the overall strategic vision of the Commission for a European IPR regime that is fit for tomorrow's new economy, rewarding creative and inventive efforts, generating incentives for EUbased innovation and allowing cultural diversity to thrive. Second, the Green Paper addressing the opportunities and challenges of online distribution of audiovisual works (2011),52 which invited stakeholders to comment on the challenges and opportunities facing audiovisual media service providers, and in particular on the question whether the regulatory and legal framework poses barriers to the cross border availability of diverse audiovisual online services in the EU. Recent measures aim at developing the full potential of the single market in the digital era, allowing better access and enhancing the capacity of cultural and creative industries to boost creativity and promote diversity.
Building on previous policy proposals,53 the Commission proceeded by way of a two-pronged approach to promote the digitisation and making available of the collections of European cultural institutions (libraries, museums and archives). Two initiatives were launched to facilitate the digitisation of copyright works, a proposal for a Directive on ‘orphan works’ and a stakeholder dialogue on ‘out-of-commerce’ books and learned journals. Their successful completion will boost the development of digital libraries, and notably Europeana as an online platform through which citizens can access the diversity and richness of Europe's cultural heritage.
In line with the principles of the Convention, another strand focused on ensuring adequate protection for creators, in particular performers whose performances are fixed on a phonogram. A recent amendment to the Directive on the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights (2011) extended the term of protection for performers from 50 to 70 years, aligning it with what is applicable in the EU for authors. The extended term will benefit both performers and record producers by helping to generate additional revenue. The Directive also contains accompanying measures which aim specifically to help performers.
An additional plank of EU action relates to improving access to culturally diverse works for vulnerable groups. In order to enhance the availability of products and services conceived for the visually impaired and reading disabled, a stakeholder dialogue was launched in 2009 resulting in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on access to works by people with print disabilities. The Commission continues to work with stakeholders to set up a network of trusted intermediaries in the EU (ETIN – European Trusted Intermediaries Network).