EU's copyright reform talks a waste of time, says digital rights group

Civil liberties group accuses EU Commission of trying to avoid copyright reform

Civil liberties activists attending the European Commission's new copyright talks on Monday declared the process a "waste of time" and an "outrageous attempt to avoid copyright reform."

"Licensing for Europe" is a series of round table discussions with content industries and users, aimed at creating copyright reform through a non-legislative process. The first meeting got under way on Monday morning discussing "user-generated content and licensing for small-scale users of protected material."

But digital rights group La Quadrature du Net denounced the process: "At best it aims to save time to avoid discussing the urgent need to reform copyright, and at worst to serve once again the interests of the entertainment industry.""75 percent of the participants to the working-group concerning users is affiliated with the industry and the themes and objectives are defined so as to ensure that the industry has its way and that nothing will change," said La Quadrature du Net spokesman Jérémie Zimmermann. "Through this initiative, the E.U. Commission shows its contempt of the many citizens who participated in defeating ACTA and are still mobilized against repressive policies. No citizen should agree to the terms and conditions of these Licenses for Europe," he added.

However, Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes urged attendees at the event to keep an open mind. "Digital technology was seen as a threat to content instead of an opportunity," she said, adding, "In some cases licensing won't be the solution."

Pragmatic solutions can be just as valid as legislative ones, she said, adding that businesses need to get rid of costly inefficiencies and adapt to new digital realities.

The Licensing for Europe consultation is made up of four working groups. As well as the User-generated Content and Licensing for Small-scale Users of Protected Material group, there are groups examining Cross-border Access and the Portability of Services; Audiovisual Sector and Cultural Heritage Institutions; and Text and Data Mining for Scientific Research Purposes.

Overall the Commission wants to increase transparency and ensure that end-users have greater clarity on legitimate and non-legitimate uses of protected material; to foster cross-border online access and portability across borders of content; to facilitate the deposit and online accessibility of films in the E.U. both for commercial purposes and non-commercial cultural and educational uses; and to promote the efficient use of text and data mining for scientific research purposes.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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