To bolster sales of online music, films and video games at EU level, the European Commission is consulting stakeholders in this lucrative market (up to 29 February), it announced in a communication adopted on 3 January. A recommendation will be submitted in mid-2008 to the European Parliament and Council for approval. The EU's Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding "does not rule out a legislative initiative as necessary," noted a spokesman.

The economic stakes are high, according to the Commission. The online content market is expected to be worth 8.3 billion in the EU25 by 2010, four times as much as in 2005 (1.8 billion). The EU executive says the market could account for some 20% of turnover for music and 33% for video games.


Members of the EP have already urged the Commission to come forward with a framework directive for the hotly disputed online music market in order to safeguard European cultural diversity. The EP decried the non-binding approach initiated in 2005 by Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, namely a recommendation proposing competition on cross-border copyright management. According to Parliament, open competition in this sector could be a hindrance to local and national music markets instead of benefiting artists and their publishers. Last March, McCreevy told MEPs: "we must be particularly careful not to limit its potential by adopting too rigid an approach" (Europolitics 3258 and 3268).

Multi-territory licensing is nevertheless on the list of challenges to be taken up in the online content sector, along with availability, interoperability and transparency of digital rights management systems, and legal offers and piracy. Stakeholders are asked to provide input on the most effective way of encouraging the issue of multi-territory licensing for audiovisual works.

To combat downloading and dissemination of illegal content, the Commission plans to encourage the...

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