DiPP - Content without frontiers: Europe’s ICT-enabled culture takes on the world

23 May 2016
8:30 AM – 10:00 AM CEST
14 Rue de la Science (7th floor), 1040 Brussels

Arguably, thanks to digitalization and digitization, culture and knowledge are nowadays accessible more than ever for the greater public. More and more media consumption occurs in front of a screen, the border between consumers and producers is blurring. Seems that media literacy is given to digital natives, who know how to smoothly navigate on an ocean of content.


  • Maria Martin-Prat

    Head of Unit, Copyright, DG CONNECT

  • Julia Reda


  • Emmanuel Forest

    Deputy CEO, Bouygues SA

  • David Sweeney

    CEO, Games Ireland


  • John Higgins

    Director General at DIGITALEUROPE

The future of digital content will be informed by a galaxy of legislations beyond copyright: portability, geo-blocking, audiovisual, digital content, competition law to name but a few. Whatever progress will come out of this all-out offensive should be measured by how effectively it helps consumers forget about borders on experiencing content. A good marker to ponder on designing portability schemes…

Another suggested yardstick for success is how simpler the relevant legislative framework looks following the steps currently envisioned, including those to be announced this week. On this count, harmonizing exceptions, let alone creating new ones, can’t possibly help. In contrast, a diet of improved coordination between all provisions concerned, with a jot of better regulation, will. Another warranted concern should make sure that online content is not treated differently to the same content off line or that right holders won’t take new legislation as an excuse to generate additional fragmentation.

Consensus was found on the fact that one size cannot fit all. Book publishing has little to do with music or with the audiovisual business, for instance. As a consequence, policymakers should leave it to business to design business models. They should also acknowledge and encourage the diversity of them, from free TV to pay-TV to video-sharing, to take another example limited to audiovisual. The Netflix, YouTube or Amazon of this world have truly pan-European, even global operations. As to free-TV, it is heavily dependent on advertisers, whose market definition is shaped by their target base, i.e. mostly local or national.

Games end up looking like an outlier from a copyright standpoint. Being born digital, the trail of their legacy is short. In addition, IPRs are vested into a single owner in that industry. And except for language or pricing games have much lighter localization concerns. As a result, they stand for simplification the world over. Sadly, even this forward-looking size can’t fit all, as illustrated by the music industry which downsized from $50b to $15b globally in ten years.

The country of origin principle embodies the flaws of a ‘religious’ approach. It is not the panacea all too often painted by experts: indeed rights must still be cleared country by country, so it is not necessarily a fix for all problems.

Foresight is dicey as regards a subject-matter that has stood pretty much still for decades in front of the fast uptake of digital technology. The only certainty is that people will enjoy a more convenient access to the content they like in the years to come. Unless policymakers blow it, creators should benefit as well in the process.

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