Inclusion of copyright-protected content in geo-blocking draft report raises serious concerns

Today Roza Thun MEP issued her draft report on the Geo-blocking Regulation in the European Parliament. We are concerned that the draft report proposes to include copyright-protected content such as e-books, music and video-games in the scope of the Regulation, and to extend the scope of the review clause to audiovisual works.

When preparing the proposal, the European Commission explicitly excluded copyright-protected content from the public consultation. This was done for good reasons. For copyright-protected content, banning geo-blocking practices risks causing a reduction in the diversity of offerings in many creative sectors – the opposite of what we all want to achieve. It would curtail the freedom of services to adapt terms and offerings to local market conditions, and would put pressure on services to unify prices upwards.

Similarly, the inclusion of audio-visual services in the Regulation’s review clause calls into question the Community Acquis in this area in contradiction with the Services Directive 2006/123/EC and the long established position of the European Parliament to preserve and enhance cultural diversity (as per the primary provisions of the EU Treaty under Article.3). It will negatively impact on-going investments and impair future financing, promotion and distribution throughout the Digital Single Market. It is our firm belief that the Portability Regulation is the right tool to help increase audiences’ enjoyment of audiovisual content, while preserving the principle of territoriality. The proposed, ill-conceived and inconsistent changes to the material scope of the Geo-blocking Regulation risk undermining this.

Today, European audiences can access more creative works online than ever before: they can enjoy over 30 million licensed songs, over 3,000 Video-on-Demand Services (VOD), and over two million e-book titles, as well as countless images that help make the internet the vibrant and engaging place it is.

The draft report puts this range and diversity of legal offer at risk, with inevitable negative economic consequences for the sectors in question, and for European audiences. Such a result would be contrary to the EU’s long history of measures to promote cultural diversity, as well as the DSM objectives of achieving jobs and growth.

Only last week the European Parliament Resolution “A coherent EU policy for cultural and creative industries” recognised the key role the creative and cultural sectors play in Europe’s economy and society: more than 11 million people with a wide range of skills and talents work in the creative industries in Europe. Any change of the scope of the Regulation to copyright-protected content would require the European Commission to first carry out a public consultation and an Impact Assessment, in line with Better Regulation principles.

We urge Members of the European Parliament to acknowledge this, and ensure the Geo-blocking Regulation does not achieve the opposite of its intended goal.

About Creativity Works!

Like-minded organisations, federations and associations from the European cultural and creative sectors have formed a coalition: Creativity Works! Our objective is to encourage and support informed dialogue with EU decision-makers about the economic and cultural contribution made by creators and the cultural and creative sectors in the digital age. Our members are brought together by a sincere belief in creativity, creative content, cultural diversity and freedom of expression. 

More information: creativityworks.eu