On the 19th of January 2016, the European Parliament adopted the resolution “Towards a Single Digital Market Act”
The committees responsible were the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. The Committee for Culture and Education was asked for an opinion.
Indeed, the strategy proposed by the Commission raises matters that are of great importance to the culture sector: amongst others, the reform of the copyright legislation, the harmonization of tax rates for online markets, and the binding of cross-border licenses for cultural content.
Amongst its suggestions, the Committee for Culture and Education thus insisted on several points:
(1) The importance of national licensing for cultural production and the role of territoriality in the financing of creation. An element that would go in contradiction with the desire of the Commission to prescribe pan-European licenses for creative content.
(2) The need to reduce VAT rates for online press and publications.
(3) A copyright legislation that permits a better remuneration of authors and artists, who allegedly suffer from the development of intermediation in the economy of culture.
(4) The mandatory application of the Audiovisual Media Service directive (AVMS), specially concerning propositions such as the “country of origin principle”, the neutrality of online platforms, or the diversity and findability of online content.
(5) The revision of the 2001 directive on copyright, in a sense that makes mandatory most copyright exceptions in fields such as education, research, libraries, etc., and the enlargement of the quotation exception.
Suggestions made by the Committee of Culture and Education were for a large part added to the final resolution proposed by the parliament. However, more than requests on concrete aspects of the strategy, the comments given by the Committee seem to reflect a rather different point of view on the importance and impact of the the Digital Market in the field of arts and culture.
The resolution will feed into the 16 initiatives that the Commission is to deliver by the end of 2016, according to its communication “A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe”. Now, the challenge remains to find a successful compromise between opportunities brought about digitization and liberalization of online markets on one side, and the necessity to maintain both high quality content and fair working conditions, also in the cultural and creative field.