By Ivar Hartmann
European Commission VP demands more revenue for artists
Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Digital Agenda, publicly supported changes to the current copyright system in Europe. In a speech entitled “Who feeds the artist?” at the Forum D’Avignon on Nov. 19th, Kroes criticized the scarcity of revenue that copyright legislation and other areas of law reserve for artists. “Speaking of economic reward: if that is the aim of our current copyright system, we’re failing here”, stated Kroes. She cited examples of artists in the UK and Germany, the majority of which earn a “paltry payment” often lower than the minimum wage in those countries. She proposed a number of solutions including the use of information and communications technology and Cloud computing to find better ways to distribute creative content and connect artists with their consumers. She also supported adopting improved legislation that would better “feed art, and feed artists.”
ECJ rules against forced surveillance by ISPs
On Nov. 24th, the Court of Justice of the European Union announced in a press release that EU law precludes an injunction imposed by the Brussels First Instance Court, which ordered Scarlet Extended SA, an internet service provider (ISP) to install a system for monitoring its electronic communications to prevent illegal file-sharing. The Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers (SABAM) had sued Scarlet, alleging that some of its users were using the ISP’s services to illegally download SABAM’s protected catalogs from the internet. After weighing the “right to intellectual property, on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the right to receive or impart information, on the other,” the Court of Justice held that forcing the ISP to monitor users in order to protect intellectual property was an unfair balance of the rights involved.
No Safe Harbor for Grooveshark
CNET reports that the Universal Music Group (UMG) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Grooveshark, a music streaming website, on Nov. 18th. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the grounds for the lawsuit “gofurther than most copyright complaints.” UMG alleges that Grooveshark’s own CEO and employees have committed the infringing activity. TIME reports that at least 1,791 songs were illicitly uploaded by Grooveshark. Despite accounts that the proof of such wrongdoing is somewhat shady, UMG is seeking the maximum compensation for each illegal upload ($150,000) and an injunction to shut down Grooveshark.
Two Wins for Net Neutrality
Within one week of each other, the U.S. Senate and the European Parliament voted in favor of adopting net neutrality regulations. CNET reports that the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality regulations in a 52-46 vote. Similarly, Computing reports that the European Parliament adopted a resolution that promotes a broad concept of net neutrality. Unlike the FCC’s regulations, the EU’s resolution does not distinguish between mobile and fixed internet service providers (ISPs). But in line with the FCC’s open Internet rules, the EU’s resolution also calls on regulatory bodies to monitor the way ISP manage their traffic on the Internet.