European commissioner Neelie Kroes calls for copyright reform

Outgoing European Commission vice-president, Neelie Kroes, called for copyright reform, a “borderless” European market, and greater access to super-fast broadband in her IBC keynote.

Delivering a speech yesterday titled ‘taking TV and film into the digital age’, Kroes, who is vice-president of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, said that this is “no longer a sector we can afford to constrain.”

The commissioner, who is due to step down after November 1, also urged her successors “deregulate and adapt,” claiming that while they should not to regulate “too far or too fast,” copyright reform is “long overdue.”

“My dream is a market that is open, borderless and competitive. Stimulating a sector pushes innovation, creativity and culture. It’s about ensuring a mindset open to change. But it’s also about bringing down barriers. The internet doesn’t know borders – that is the online reality,” said Kroes.

“We already have a single, simple rule to promote that: the ‘country of origin’ rule for audiovisual and media services. So once you’ve created your programme, once you’ve invested: you can broadcast anywhere in the EU. Giving you – not a tangle of rules to deal with – but consistency, clarity and certainty. That is central to a single market, central to our digital future. We need to build on it with copyright reform.”

Kroes said that broadcasters spend years on paperwork to clear licences to allow them to show material in other EU countries – something that’s expensive for established players and is unaffordable for innovative new players.
“Many people ask me – why can’t I pay to access my favourite TV show when I travel? Or watch the match of my favourite football team from back home? And I just don’t know how to answer them. It’s time for change,” said Kroes.

In terms of broadband access, she said that while every European now has access to basic broadband coverage, “we now need to push for fast and super-fast broadband everywhere.”
Kroes added that broadband spectrum should be used more efficiently.

“Spectrum is a vital resource. In a changing market we need to use it to the full. Who knows how technology could transform and enable in future. In the meantime – you cannot change the laws of physics; but you can change the law. And you can change how you think and how ready you are to adapt, particularly with the opportunities provided by new technology.”