Select Committee on European Union Written Evidence

Memorandum by British Music Rights


British Music Rights was established to promote greater awareness of the interests and concerns of British music composers, songwriters and publishers to UK and EU policymakers and the wider public. The primary focus is to communicate an understanding of the rights and rewards for creativity in the music business; the value of those rights to UK plc; the impact of new technologies upon music creators and publishers and the resulting policy and legislative implications. Our member organisations are the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, the Music Publishers Association, the Performing Right Society and the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society.

  Music creators are at the cutting edge of content creation in the global electronic market place. Indeed, music lies at the heart of the e-commerce revolution and has a key role to play in accelerating e-commerce, creating a digitally literate and entrepreneurial Europe and enhancing social inclusion. Music is driving the formation of new business models for the online environment and the experience and success of our sector are being monitored by the other key creative industries, such as literature, film and audio-visual. In turn, the new technologies are having a fundamental impact upon the structure of the music industry with the emergence of a plethora of new trading, distribution and communication models.

  British Music Rights is actively engaged in representing the views of music creators on the wide-ranging initiatives and consultations being introduced by the various EU and UK institutions involved in e-commerce policy development. We are pleased to have the opportunity to submit evidence to the Committee's current inquiry and have raised our key points under some of the specific questions you have highlighted for consideration.

1.  What needs to be done to create confidence and to stimulate e-commerce?

  The focus for promoting confidence in e-commerce has concentrated on the security measures that need to be developed and implemented to encourage consumers to participate actively in the digital revolution. However, it is vital that creative content providers, many of whom are SMEs, are similarly incentivised by a secure trading environment.

  The ongoing production of high quality content, which is a key driver of e-commerce growth, will be largely determined by the development of a more robust legal framework to protect and enforce online intellectual property rights. The key issue for industry is the rapid agreement of appropriate EU rules on copyright protection in the Copyright Directive and rules on service provider responsibility for illegal transactions on the networks in the e-Commerce Directive.

  The Government's recently proposed Trust UK hallmark initiative[1] could be used to promote both creator and consumer confidence in legitimate e-commerce traders by identifying approved sites, ie those that are licensed and offer only genuinely licensed and authorised works, rather than illegal and/or counterfeit content. There must also be support for interoperable standards for numbering and encryption and rules on non-circumvention of encryption devices.

2.  Does the European Commission's draft Action Plan "eEurope: An Information Society for All" offer a realistic means of promoting e-commerce in the EU?

  We welcome the Commission's eEurope draft action plan as a charter for best practice and motivation towards developing a fully functioning e-commerce initiative. There is, however, a crucial omission in the current proposal—the need to ensure that the value of creative input is fully recognised with content creators properly rewarded for their contribution as in the traditional environment.

  There is no reference, for example, to the imperative of acknowledging the role played by, and the value of, content in driving a networked community. This requires developing licence schemes with rights owners for the use of their rights in implementing networked education, public IT centres, and/or library systems. This same problem was identified by British Music Rights in the UK Government's approach to promoting an inclusive information society, eg via the People's Network project in local libraries. This key issue has now been acknowledged at the national level but it is crucial that the same understanding is communicated and adopted at the European level.

  Our fundamental concern is to ensure that in using digital copies and networks there is an appropriate awareness of the value of music and that the interests of copyright holders are recognised in order to ensure that the creative industries are able to continue to invest in the talent and innovation that are driving the e-commerce revolution. It is payment for the use of copyright works today which provides the incentive and means to create the content of tomorrow. Without such investment, the primary goal of the e-Europe initiative to encourage European citizens to participate in an information society with wide ranges of top quality content will not be realised.

  Consideration must also be given to the most appropriate and productive role for the Commission in addressing the copyright concerns we have raised in order to promote e-commerce in the EU. The UK model of government and the creative industries working in partnership to raise consumer awareness of the importance of copyright with the creation of the Creative Industries Intellectual Property Working Group offers a useful regional/national blueprint for Europe.

3.  Will codes of conduct and co-regulation provide sufficient protection? Is there a case for intervention by national governments and the EU?

  Codes of conduct and co-regulation have a useful role to play in providing detailed models of operating in specific areas, eg the notice and take-down procedure foreseen by the e-Commerce Directive and being developed in more detail by Rightswatch[2]. However, in relation to copyright issues co-operative measures of this kind cannot alone provide sufficient protection. It is vital that there is a broad legal framework in place to define the boundaries and provide means for legal enforcement and redress if these more informal regulatory methods break down. To this end, we are contributing to the completion of the appropriate rules in the Copyright and e-Commerce Directives currently under discussion in Europe and will be inputting to their speedy implementation in UK law.

4-6  Institutional Structures

  We are interested in the increasing debate about the need for modernisation of both the European and national legislative systems in order to accommodate the speed of e-commerce developments and the resulting operational and policy implications.

17 March 2000

1   DTI White Paper on "Modern Markets: Confident Consumers". Back

2   Rightswatch is an EU funded project whose partners include BT and MCOS (representing the rights societies MCPS and PRS which license the use of music on the internet). Its objective is to develop codes of conduct and procedures to simplify the giving of notice of illegal content to ISPs who provide hosting, caching or access to websites. Based on the model of the Internet Watch Foundation, it is adapted to the specific requirements of copyright and licensing. Back

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