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 The EPC Members' Newsletter

 

Legislative update 98 April - 2001

1. ELECTRONIC COMMERCE
1.1 Data Protection and SMS on mobile
1.2 Conference on Piracy and Forgery.
1.3 EU and Australia disagree over Privacy Law
1.4 Global E-Commerce Conduct Code Discussed
1.5 Council of Europe Cybercrime Treaty
1.6 EU offers model data privacy contracts
1.7 UN Working group on eCommerce
1.8 EEJ net

2. INTERNET (CONTENT) REGULATION
2.1 Liikanen interviewed on EU online content regulation
2.2 Council of Europe investigates information online and journalistic ethics

3. COPYRIGHT
3.1 Council of Ministers adopts the Copyright Directive
3.2 Sanding Committee on Copyright and Related Rights
(Fifth Session) Geneva, May 7 to 11, 2001
3.3 GBDe Intellectual Property Rights Group set up
3.4 WIPO interim report

4. ADVERTISING
4.1 Duty to Trade Fairly proposal goes ahead
4.2 Potential ban on advertising to children in France
4.3 UK bill labels ISPs as publishers
4.4 Children and Alcohol
4.5 ICC revise Direct Marketing Code
5. AUDIOVISUAL AND GENERAL MEDIA POLICY
5.1 Financial reporting and liability
5.2 Two public hearings on TVWF
5.3 Final agreement on Formula One
5.4 Media Plus call for proposals and Media II assessment announced
5.5 Commission curbs Microsoft with regard to Digital TV
5.6 Treaty exemption for broadcasting
5.7 EBU Conference

6. GENERAL
6.1 Publishing will leave FBI
6.2 Russia chastised by EU over NTV debacle
6.3 Parliament wary of Governance reforms
6.4 Telecoms update
6.5 GATS negotiations on Post
6.6 European Services Forum meeting
6.7 Rome II straight to Regulation
6.8 WTO seminar in Parliament
6.9 Internal Market Review

Dates for your diary
3 May - Luxembourg seminar on consumer issues
7th May - Ecofin Council, to discuss eCommerce and Financial Services
10th May - EPC meeting to discuss Market Abuse proposal
21st May - meeting to discuss Publisher Forum
29th 30th May - Workshops on TWF studies
31st May - Meeting of Rome2Group
7th June - Postal Users Group meeting
12+13th June - Seminar on State Aids in audiovisual sector
19-20 June Ð Dinner with Prodi and Belgian PM, and EPC AGM, Brussels
5th July - Seminar on new forms of advertising

Note: See http://www.eu2001.se for all Presidency events

General enquiries:
Angela Mills
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 310 732
Facsimile: +44 (0)1865 310 739
angelamills.epc@btinternet.com

Annabella Coldrick
Telephone: +32 2 231 1299
Facsimile: +32 2 230 7658
annabella.coldrick@europe-analytica.com

Press Enquiries:
Heidi Lambert
Telephone: +32 2 732 5546
Facsimile: +32 2 735 3603



1 Electronic commerce

1.1 Data Protection and mobile SMS
The FEDMA ISDN/SMS Task Force continues to discuss the text of the draft code on the distribution of unsolicited marketing by SMS it has been working on. At a recent meeting, only minor changes to the wording of the text were included. The consultation process on the text will continue until early May, by which time they hope to have reached agreement on a final text. The ISDN group is also strategically targeting MEPs with regard to the draft directive which is at present being considered by the Parliament's many committees. FEDMA have produced a letter which rebutts the Commission study concerning costs for internet users of unsolicited commercial mail. More information is available on request.

1.2 Conference on Piracy and Forgery.
The Swedish Presidency held a conference on piracy and forgery on 23-24 April in Stockholm. The aim of the conference was to "make a survey of the extent of these activities and find effective measures for fighting them". Opening the conference, Swedish Justice and Trade Ministers Thomas Bodstršm and Leif Pagrotsky stressed that "We must combat piracy and forgery, both through international collaboration and work to change attitudes". Further information + a copy of Bolkestein's speech available on request.

1.3 EU and Australia disagree over Privacy Law
The EU Working Party on the Data Privacy directive has issued its opinion on Australia's new privacy legislation. The working party considers that data transfers to Australia could be regarded as adequate only if appropriate safeguards were introduced to meet the concerns set out in the report. This could be done for example through voluntary codes of conduct foreseen in the Act, taking into account that the enforcement of voluntary codes is done either by the Privacy Commissioner himself or by an independent adjudicator. The Attorney-General of Australia has replied that the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 is world leading co-regulatory legislation. In many ways, it goes significantly further than the US Safe Harbor Agreement, which was accepted by the EU as adequate. Opinions of Working Party and Australian Attorney General available on request.

1.4 Global E-Commerce Conduct Code Discussed
The U.S. Better Business Bureau and two European business groups, Eurochambres, an association of European chambers of commerce, and FEDMA are developing a set of standards for Web sites to ease consumer concerns about doing business over the Internet. The three groups said they would merge their codes of conduct to provide a voluntary, international standard for online commerce, as well as a framework to resolve disputes.

1.5 Council of Europe Cybercrime Treaty
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe announced its approval of the current draft of the treaty on Cybercrime on 24th April. The Parliamentary Assembly said that the text should give more guarantees as far as freedom of the individual is concerned, especially concerning protection of data. Those recommendations will go to the committee of experts, which will decide whether or not to incorporate them in the final draft. The treaty should be open for signatures by the end of this year. The draft treaty can be read online at: http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/EN/cadreprojets.htm. Please also note that Commissioner Vittorino has announced the launch of a new Cybercrime Forum to enhance co-operation between Member States in this area. See http://www.euroispa.org for more info.

1.6 EU offers model data privacy contracts
The Commission plan to produce model contracts that companies can use free of charge to confirm that the data in a mailing list or credit rating will not be abused. This is in order to ensure compliance with the 1995 Data Protection Directive. The contracts will be voluntary but could be used to help individuals sue companies who have misused their personal information. Further information on request.

1.7 UN Working group on eCommerce
In early March the UN working group on eCommerce met to try to discuss proposals regarding electronic signatures, legal barriers to trade, transfer of rights and possible future work in the field of electronic contracting. Docs from the event are available at http://www.uncitral.org/english/workinggroups/wg_ec/index.htm

1.8 EEJ net
The draft report by Diana Wallis (ELDR, UK) on the Commission working document on out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes was unanimously adopted by the Legal Affairs Committee on 24 April. It called upon the Commission to guarantee adequate start-up funding and long-term financial support for the EEJ Net. It will be presented to the vote at Parliament's May plenary session in Strasbourg. Meanwhile the Commission have also produced a Communication on widening access to Alternative Dispute Resolution covering the EEJ net and Fin Net. Copies of Diana Wallis's report and the Communication on ADR are available on request.

1.9 Commission castigates Germany over eCommerce law
The German Government have been told by the Commission to rewrite a new telesales law. The current draft breaches the eCommerce directive as it allows German Judges to decide whether German companies should abide by local or foreign laws in cross border disputes. The law ignores the country of origin principle and makes foreign firms liable for cases of misleading advertising, unfair competition etc. The German government must now decide to drop the law or risk legal action in the European court.


2 Internet (content) regulation

2.1 Liikanen interviewed on EU online content regulation
The New York Times has published an article on the events in applicable law in Europe and America. Decisions from France, Germany and Italy have suggested that European countries are willing to ban content from their borders which does not meet their national laws. Liikanen said that in the area of criminal law nation states jurisdictions are supreme and that countries operating transnationally have to be aware of this. However it has been reported separately that the German prosecutors have decided they will not take legal action against Yahoo for online auctions of Hitler's Mein Kampf as Yahoo is the provider rather than the person offering the service. Yahoo could only have been charged if it had been aware of the online offer and could prevent it but this was not the case.

2.2 Council of Europe investigates information online and journalistic ethics
The Council of Europe's group of specialists on online services and democracy has requested comments from EPC regarding their mandate to "examine the implications of the online dissemination of information by individuals which may not be bound by professional journalistic ethics or codes of conduct." More information is available on request.


3 Copyright

3.1 Council of Ministers adopts the Copyright Directive
On 7th April the Council of Ministers finally adopted the Copyright directive. The Council has accepted the amendments put forward by Enrico Boselli including the reduction of the implementation period for member states to within 18 months of its publication in the official journal. The Commission have welcomed the adoption and have declared that it achieves common ground in an area of diverse interests.

3.2 Standing Committee on Copyright and
Related Rights (Fifth Session) Geneva, May 7 to 11, 2001

The WIPO Committee on Copyright will discuss the Protection of Databases and the Protection of the Rights of Broadcasting Organisations there are two proposals on protection of broadcasting organisations by the Delegation of Kyrgystan and by the Delegation of Sudan. Both documents are available at; http://www.wipo.int/eng/meetings/2001/sscr/index_5.htm

3.3 GBDe Intellectual Property Rights Group set up
The Global Business Dialogue on Electronic Commerce (GBDe) has created a group to encourage the standardisation and development of technological measures that would enable the development of global legitimate electronic commerce. The intellectual property rights group will be chaired by Michael Eisner the chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney company. More information at http://www.gbde.org/ipr/index.html.

3.4 WIPO interim report
WIPO has published its request for comments on abuse of domain names more information. This includes international nonproprietary names for pharmaceutical substances, names of NGOs, geographical indicators and trade names. See http://wipo2.wipo.int/process2/rfc/rfc3/


4 Advertising

4.1 Duty to Trade Fairly proposal goes ahead
The Lund Consumer and Internal Market Council has given its informal approval for Commissioner Byrne to continue work on proposals for a new regulatory policy for consumer protection. The Commission have still not officially adopted the proposal themselves due to extensive lobbying from EPC and other industry bodies and internal opposition, notably from DG Markt and EAC. However the results of Lund make it likely that DG Sanco will now produce a green paper first, by the end of May, which will be open to public consultation until the end of September. More information on the ideas behind the Duty to Trade Fairly is available on request.

4.2 Potential ban on advertising to children in France
A Socialist deputy Jean-Marie LeGuen has presented a report to the French Parliament on land based digital television. He argues that advertising breaks should be abolished during programs for children on public and private television channels (although no on subscription or cable channels). He also calls upon the French government to back Sweden's attempts to extend the ban on advertising to children.

4.3 UK bill labels ISPs as publishers
The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill says that "In relation to a tobacco advertisement which is published or caused to be published by electronic means by an Internet service provider, it is a defense for him..to prove he was unaware that what he published or caused to be published, was or contained a tobacco advertisement." ISPs therefore will not be liable if they can prove they are unaware of the content of the websites. This means it is in the interests of ISPs not to monitor their websites and contradicts the current moves to surveillance of websites in order to protect children. It is uncertain whether Byrne will pick up on this definition of ISPs as publishers and not distributors in his planned tobacco advertising bill.

4.4 Children and Alcohol
On 25th April the report by Mrs Stihler on drinking alcohol by children and adolescents was adopted by the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport. with several amendments proposing more restrictive rules on advertising alcohol to young people. It should be voted on in the plenary session of 14-18 May. Copy is available on request.

4.5 ICC revise Direct Marketing Code
The International Chamber of Commerce's executive board will adopt a revised code on Direct Marketing in June. They are proposing to change Article 33 with reference to unlisted numbers. This currently states "Consumers with an unlisted number should not be knowingly contacted for direct marketing purposes, other than when the number is randomly picked for marketing research". The new text will read "other than when the number was supplied by the consumer to the seller or operators."


5 Audiovisual and general media policy

5.1 Financial reporting and liability
There is a pre-proposal from the Commission to impose some reporting restrictions and impose liability on publishers for financial information as it relates to share prices etc. in order to prevent "market abuse". EPC has been in touch with the Commission to express concern about the implications for newspapers and magazines and they have agreed to meet with us to discuss these on 10th May. Copies of the proposal are available on request.

5.2 Two public hearings on TVWF
Two workshops have been lined up for the 29th and 30th May linked to the studies taking place as part of the review of the Television Without Frontiers Directive. Workshop one concerns the "Evaluation of the impact of measures concerning the promotion of distribution and production of television programs in the European Audio-visual sector". Workshop 2 is entitled "Outlook of development of the market for European Audio-visual content and of the regulatory framework concerning production and distribution of this content". http://europa.eu.int/comm/avpolicy/stat/wsinv_en.pdf

5.3 Final agreement on Formula One
The Federation Internationale de L'Automobile has granted a 100 year extension of the broadcasting and commercial rights to Formula One to a company controlled by German media groups Kirsch and EMT. The deal leaves the rights from 2011 onwards in the hands of SLEC, founded by F1 promoter Bernie Ecclestone but now 75% owned by Kirsch and EMTV, with the balance held by the Ecclestone family trust. SLEC already holds the rights until 2010. Kirsch has assured that F1 broadcasting will remain free-to-air with pay-per-view as an option for better coverage. Please note Kirsch is also still preparing to challenge UK broadcasting restrictions with regard to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups in the European Court. Kirsch wishes to sell to the highest bidder and not to a free-to-air company such as ITV or BBC who pay less.

5.4 Media Plus call for proposals and Media II assessment announced
A call for proposals has been announced in support of the development of production projects for companies who contribute to the objectives of Media Plus. Guidelines are available from Jacques Delmoly by fax on (32-2) 299 92 14. Also the Commission has published a notice for a study to assess the Media II program. The invitation to tender will be published in the second quarter of 2001

5.5 Commission curbs Microsoft with regard to Digital TV
The Commission has investigated the investments of Microsoft in the Digital Cable industry in Europe. The Commission was concerned that the technology decisions of cable operators are made on merit so that suppliers of set-top box technology can compete on equal terms. Microsoft have agreed to abolish their so called "Technology Boards" and the Commission have closed the investigation as its original recommendations are no longer valid. More information on request.

5.6 Treaty exemption for broadcasting
The Belgian Government appears to be planning a treaty exemption for "Services of General Interest from EU competition law during the Belgian Presidency. As broadcasting is included in the Commission Communication on Services of General Interest this could mean Public Sector broadcasting could claim a total exemption from Competition rules. The Party of European Services has prepared a text on this topic for their conference in Berlin in May and the Belgian government is meeting with the British audiovisual representatives to discuss their plans. The Commission Communication is currently being discussed in the European Parliament but broadcasting has been overlooked for more obvious services such as Gas, Electricity, Water and the postal services. More information on request.

5.7 EBU Conference
On 27th March the EBU held their fourth annual conference in Brussels. Three Commissioners Viviane Reding, Erkki Liikanen and Pascal Lamy attended the conference and spoke on issues with reference to broadcasting. Greg Dyke, Director General of the BBC and Marita Ulvskog the Swedish culture minister also attended to speak in favour of public sector broadcasting. Copies of all speeches are available on request.


6 General

6.1 Publishing will leave FBI
At a meeting between the publishing associations and Erkki Liikanen Commissioner for Enterprise an agreement was made to move publishing from under the Forest Based Industries sector into the Services Directorate. In exchange for publishing pulling out of the Forest Based Industries Forum planned for July this year he has requested that the publishing industry set up its own Forum. A meeting will be held on May 21st in Brussels to discuss this. Additionally the Confederation of European Paper Industries is revising its matrix of forest certification. Matrix and questionnaire available on request.

6.2 Russia chastised by EU over NTV debacle
The Swedish Presidency has published a declaration requesting the Russian Government to respect the principles of Freedom of Speech and media pluralism with regard to the take over of NTV by the state controlled Gazprom. The EU says that whilst they do not want to intervene in Russian domestic policy they strongly suggest that Russia commit themselves to an open press. See http://www.eu2001.se/eu2001/news/news_read.asp?iInformationID=14166

6.3 Parliament wary of Governance reforms
The Socialist Group of the European Parliament have adopted a report on the Governance debate. The paper stresses the MEPs concern that the proposals for alternative regulatory models such as co-regulation may be used to circumvent parliament. The paper states that whilst the role of civil society is important "any attempt to make of such consultation a substitute to the role Parliament has to play must be resisted. Copies of the Socialist Paper on Governance are available on request.

6.4 Telecoms update
At the telecoms council on the 4th April the Council reached a Common Position on three of the Telecoms package directives. The Framework directive was amended by the Council so as to remove the Commissions power of veto over decisions of the national regulatory bodies. They also adopted the Access and Interconnection directive and the directive on Authorisation of electronic networks. The Commission now has two months to object to any decision it believes violate EU law. A copy of the telecoms Council Conclusions is available on request.

6.5 GATS negotiations on Post
The WTO has received a Communication from the European Communities and their Member States on the GATS negotiations and postal services. The document proposes a schedule of commitments for different types of mail. It suggests full commitments should be made on courier/express delivery services, handling of addressed parcels and packages, handling of addressed press products, handling of non-addressed items and product exchange while gradual market opening and national treatment is sought for the rest of the areas to maintain universal service. Meanwhile CEN (the European Standardisation Agency) has produced a newsletter on the work they are doing on Postal Services and hybrid mail. A copy of the CEN newsletter and Communication on GATS is available on request.

6.6 European Services Forum meeting
The European Services Forum met on 27th April to discuss the draft paper on domestic regulation. There is still a large split in the group between the public sector broadcasters EBU and ARD and private sector broadcasters. The paper at present reflects the public sector concerns and requests an exemption for audio-visual products from GATS. The rapporteur listened to concerns and said he would try to rewrite the paper to keep everyone happy. A copy of the draft ESF paper and other ESF docs are available on request.

6.7 Rome II Regulation
The Commission's Rome II proposal has been delayed indefinitely due to the member of staff responsible moving to DG Competition. It is thought his replacement will not begin until September and then take a couple of months to pick up the dossier. Commissioner Vittorino now appears to wish to scrap the idea of a green paper and proceed directly with a Regulation. This will obviously reduce the scope for an open consultation. An adhoc coalition on this subject will meet on 31st May in Brussels to discuss future action.

6.8 WTO seminar in Parliament
Both Pascal Lamy and Mike Moore attended the Industry Committee seminar entitled "Trade, Development and Democracy: the need for reform of the WTO". MEPs have been calling for more parliamentary involvement in the WTO to prevent a repeat of the Seattle Ministerial by proving that there is democratic involvement more than simply ratifying agreements. Copies of the above speeches are available on request.

6.9 Internal Market Review
The second annual Review of the Internal Market strategy concludes that progress has been disappointing. Of 36 actions scheduled to be completed by June 2001 only 20 (55%) will be completed on time. The report urges faster work and more commitment to ensuring national implementation of directives by Member States. A copy of the review is available on request.



Upcoming Conferences of relevance to EPC members:

Television Without Frontiers Workshops
Workshop one on 29th May concerns the "Evaluation of the impact of measures concerning the promotion of distribution and production of television programs in the European Audio-visual sector". Workshop 2 on 30th May is entitled "Outlook of development of the market for European Audio-visual content and of the regulatory framework concerning production and distribution of this content". A third workshop will also be held on new forms of advertising on 5th July but no info is available as yet for this. For more info and to sign up see. http://europa.eu.int/comm/avpolicy/stat/wsinv_en.pdf

Economics of Information Society 15th May
Organised by the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and the British Embassy. Venue Brussels Expo, cost _60 for the day. Discussion on eCommerce and the information society with speakers from the Commission and OECD. Fax the British Chamber of Commerce on (32-2) 512.83.63 for more information.

European Commercial Communications Forum - 31st May
The Advertising Information Group (AIG) is organising a morning program of speakers on the debate "Banning the Single Market for Advertising". Speakers include Jean Bergevin of the Media, Commercial Communication and Unfair Competition Unit in DG Markt, Stephan Loerke from World Federation of Advertisers and Stephane Martin Director of the French Association for TV advertising. e-mail aig@aig.org for more details.

Seminar "Trade Practices and Consumer Rip-offs - Thursday 3rd May
Consumer organised event in Luxembourg. Speakers include Jean Bergevin of DG Markt and Carina Tornblom of DG Sanco who will discuss the different approaches the two DGs have to consumer policy. It is hoped they will also discuss the Duty to Trade Fairly proposal. See http://www.euroguichet.lu for more info.