Saturday, January 28, 2012

Paths in the legal jungle

"Copyright is very complicated", says Peter Goethals from the legal department of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). International treaties, EU-wide harmonisation attempts, national copyright laws (defining subject matter, originality, authorship, ownership, moral richts, and contract aspects) are a legal jungle. There are reproduction rights. there is the right to broadcast. There are authors, performers, CD producers, film producers, broadcasters, ISPs, and they all claim their rights. A way out might be a more efficient licensing model, Goethals says: Today's complex licensing processes lead to wasting money on administration instead of spending it on creativity. Simplified licensing is also important in the fight against online piracy.

In 2010 the EBU made a proposal ("Modern copyright for digital media") in order to achieve a modern, coherent rights clearance system for both traditional radio and TV services and proadcasting-related online services. "Its basis", Goethals says, "is to apply the law of only one country, being the law of the member state in which the broadcaster sits". The EBU also proposes a broader use of the "Extended Collective Licensising Systems", a rights clearance system successful in northern Europe that is more flexible, technologically neutral and future-proof. Another EBU proposal: a simplified music licensing for online services. "What we need is a one stop shop", as Goethals puts it: Public service broadcasters are mass-users of music (a major broadcaster uses up to 200.000 music pieces per year), and EBU members pay over 1 billion Euros every year. Today's individual licensing system does not make sense any more.

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