The technology association, Bitkom, has called on the European Commission to consider fundamental reforms to copyright law to make it more suitable for the demands of the digital world.
EU consultation on copyright law
The call comes as part of a consultation exercise run by the European Commission on the structure of copyright law at European level. Stakeholders had until 5 March 2014 to submit their views. The basis of the consultation was a catalogue of questions on various areas of copyright law including: licensing, copyright levies and the enforcement of rights.
Better copyright licensing framework
The technology association has called for the copyright licensing system in Europe to be simplified and improved for all parties including copyright holders, rights owners and users.
Bitkom has made clear that it supports the creation of a European-wide registration and identification system, which users can utilise to more quickly determine who the copyright holder of a work is and who the rights belong to.
The association also stated that the question of how copyright applies to web links should be clarified.
Chair of the association, Dr Bernhard Rohleder, warned against introducing rules making it necessary to obtain the copyright holder’s permission in order to place links on a website to copyright-protected content.
According to Dr Rohleder such a system would undermine the freedom to cite protected works which is guaranteed by copyright law. He added that the ability to link to content is one of the fundamental principles of the internet and that requiring users to obtain consent would greatly restrict freedom of opinion.
In relation to streaming, Bitkom refers to the position published by the German government. This argues that streaming copyright-protected content online does not amount to use which requires a copyright-holder’s consent.
Bitkom believes this view should apply across the EU.
Bitkom also argues that there is urgent need to reform the current copyright levy framework.
Under the current system a levy is applied to computers and data storage equipment, which is then paid to musicians, film creators and other creators to compensate them for the legal private copies created using such equipment.
“The current levy system is no longer suitable for a digital world. The equipment levy should be replaced by more effective models. The European Commission should make concrete proposals on this topic in the planned white paper,” Dr Rohleder stated.