EU Pushes for Single Market in Web Media

To promote better consumer access to online music, films, and games, Brussels will encourage cooperation among the market's players

The European Commission announced Thursday (3 January) that it is looking to create a single market in online music, films and games in Europe, but has indicated it will avoid taking the legislative route.

Brussels says it will "encourage" the content industry, telecom companies and Internet service providers to work closely together to provide consumers with better access to music, TV, films and games via mobile phones or the internet.

"We have to make a choice in Europe: Do we want to have a strong music, film and games industry? Then we should give industry legal certainty, content creators a fair remuneration and consumers broad access to a rich diversity of content online," said media commissioner Viviane Reding.

Ms Reding said that the online content sector is suffering due to a "lack of clear, consumer-friendly rules for accessing copyright-protected online content."

Brussels has been eyeing the issue for over a year with revenues from online content expected to more than quadruple from €1.8 billion in 2005 to €8.3 billion in 2010.

The commission is expected to issue a 'recommendation' -- a non-binding proposal -- by mid 2008 "on new ways for achieving a single market for online content," but it has also promised to ensure a "robust protection of intellectual property rights."

The area of creative online content is marked by strong disagreement between artists and electronic firms over issues such as compensation for copying private works.

For its part, the commission says that piracy, the lack of multi-territory licensing, and the lack of technologies that support the management of rights and the fair payment of creators online are among the main problems in the area.