European Commission draws new plans to curb piracy, music rights

MUMBAI: The European Commission (EU) has laid down new plans to overhaul intellectual property rules in the 27-nation bloc, including enforcement of rules on digital piracy, creating a legal framework for cross-border management of music copyright and modernizing trademark rules.

"Ensuring the right level of protection of intellectual property rights in the single market is essential for Europe’s economy. Our aim today is to get the balance between these two objectives right for IPR across the board," said EU Internal Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier.

The EU will also look into music copyright management. At present, music rights are licensed on a national basis, however, the advent of the internet has primarily changed the way music is bought and sold.

To counter the problem, the Commission proposes to modernise the EU’s intellectual property right laws, which protect literary, musical and artistic works (copyright), discoveries and inventions (patents), and words, phrases, symbols and designs (trademarks).

The EU will also establish common rules for copyright collecting societies, which collect royalties then pay them out to artists and record companies. It also plans to create a "clear and well-functioning legal framework for the multi-territorial licensing" so music can be made available in multiple countries, a service which currently relies on reciprocal agreements between various different licensing companies.

The EU is also planning to reinforce its fight against piracy and illegal downloads, citing industry figures that these practices cost European music, movie, and TV industries over $14.05 billion in 2008. It has proposed a regulation to give extra powers to the European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy, a public-private group set up to protect intellectual property rights.

The commission will also work out a strategy to tackle the "complex phenomenon" of illegal music downloading.

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