A draft directive on collective online rights management is expected to be presented in the next few months, most likely in March, confirms the European Commission in its annual progress report 2011 on the Digital Agenda for Europe(1). Published on 22 December 2011, the report outlines progress to date and actions needed over the next two years to achieve the different aims of the digital strategy (see box).

The development of digital content is "crucial for the achievement of the online single market and for the free circulation of information and services," reads the Commission's report. Key upcoming actions planned by the executive include publication within the next four months of a draft directive on collective rights management and the resumption of discussions on private copying. These two actions are at the heart of the communication on intellectual property published in May 2010. They are not new, but the institution has "fallen behind schedule," Veronique Desbrosses, secretary-general of the European Grouping of Authors' and Composers' Societies (GESAC), told Europolitics.

With respect to collective rights management, it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage rights at national level as cross-border online services continue to expand. Collective rights management refers to the practice whereby authors delegate management of their rights to an organisation.

The draft text is expected to propose standards on the governance and transparent functioning of collecting societies. "It is important to change the framework to ensure that collective societies cooperate with each other and present common proposals to internet operators," explained Kerstin Jorna, deputy head of cabinet for Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier. The Commission also wishes to streamline pan-European licensing for online music rights at Union level. The initiative, which aims overall to facilitate the work of collecting societies, is expected to increase fees paid to...

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