Earth
Click to view previous newsletter.  
 

 
 





Click to view the HOW-TO pages for the EPC web-page.





 


 
 The EPC Members' Newsletter

 

Legislative update 95 Month - January 2001

1. ELECTRONIC COMMERCE
1.1 Copyright report nearly adopted
1.2 Collapse of WIPO conference
1.3 WTO gives US Copyright deadline
1.4 Data Protection update
1.5 OECD agrees protocol for tax on eCommerce
1.6 EU/US joint statement on ADR
1.7 Commission adopts Communication on Computer related crime

2. INTERNET (CONTENT) REGULATION
2.1 Online Publishers ruled responsible for content
2.2 French law defeats Yahoo

3. COPYRIGHT
3.1 Copyright report nearly adopted
3.2 Collapse of WIPO conference
3.3 WTO gives US Copyright deadline

4. ADVERTISING
4.1 Communication on Sales promotion due
4.2 CEN pushes for advertising standards
4.3 Alcohol: Amsterdam Report Released

5. AUDIOVISUAL AND GENERAL MEDIA POLICY
5.1 Television without Frontiers Report
5.2 Protection of Minors
5.3 Audiovisual cases concluded
5.4 French ban on American DVDs
5.5 Online Radio to pay royalties
5.6 Cinema Communication update

6. GENERAL
6.1 Results of Telecoms Council on 23rd Dec6.1 Results of Telecoms Council on 23rd Dec
6.2 Rome II in interservice consultation
6.3 Report on electronic publishing adopted
6.4 Germany loses case against Germany concerning dispute over publishing houses
6.5 Books pricing proposal rejected
6.6 Internal Market in Services plans
6.7 Ecofin approve renewal of 15% VAT rate
6.8 European Company Statute deal struck
6.9 Swedish Presidency Work Program and Trade policy objectives
6.10 Communications Review update
6.11 Way out of the Forest Based Industries
6.12 Packaging waste directive

Upcoming Conferences of relevance to EPC members
Documents available on request to EPC members


Dates for your diary

February
06 Conference on Alternative Regulatory Models
08 EPC Corporate Affairs Group meeting
9th EAT Conference on Self-Regulation
12-15th Copyright vote in Plenary
12-13th Seminar on Children and Young People in the New Media Landscape
15t Conference Safer Internet, Filtering Software and Services
19-21 2nd WHO European Ministerial Conference on Alchol in Stockholm
21-22 Kid Power World - London

Note: See http://www.eu2001.se/ for all Presidency events
Also see the section of Upcoming conferences of relevance to EPC members

General enquiries: Angela Mills
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 310 732
Facsimile: +44 (0)1865 310 739
Annabella Coldrick
Telephone: +32 2 231 1299
Facsimile: +32 2 230 7658

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


1 Electronic commerce

1.1 Copyright report nearly adopted
Enrico Boselli's modest copyright report was presented to the Parliament earlier this month with only 4 amendments to the original proposal. Such restraint was quickly eroded when the MEPs under the encouragement of temporary Committee Chair Willy Rothley tabled 197 amendments. Boselli was then left with the task of tidying up the mess and he has managed to produce 8 Compromise amendments jointly signed by Ana Palacio. Willy Rothley has also proposed one to Art 5.1. The MEPs are swiftly withdrawing large swathes of their amendments but it still looks like the vote in Committee will be quite long and difficult to predict when it takes place on Monday 5th February. The plenary is still expected to vote on the proposal between the 12th - 15th February. More information and copies of the amendments are available on request.

1.2 Collapse of WIPO conference
The WIPO conference on the protection of audio-visual performances broke down over the issue on the automatic transfer of artists' rights, which is common practice in the US but not the EU. The WIPO negotiations are intended to achieve uniform protection of artists' rights and of the audio-visual product of their efforts when broadcast on TV, video or the Internet.

1.3 WTO gives US Copyright deadline
Washington has until the 27th July to bring its copyright legislation into conformity with international law. The provisions deemed illegal concern an exemption authorising the diffusion of music in public places with sound systems without payment of fees normally due to the owner.

1.4 Data Protection update
The EP Committee of the Environment has begun to discuss the draft opinion on "the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector". The Rapporteur stated that in his opinion Direct Marketing should not be allowed to use personal data without the consumers' prior consent. The vote is due on the 26th Feb for this directive. A report on the Data Protection Working Seminar is available on request. Meanwhile the Direct Marketing Association is in discussion with mobile network operators to formulate a self-regulatory framework based on an opt-out scheme. Lastly it has been reported that the Safe Harbour program to guarantee certain levels of data protection for US-EU trade has only had about a dozen subscriptions. The Commerce Dept in Washington is now trying desperately to create more interest.

1.5 OECD agrees protocol for tax on eCommerce
The OECD Committee on Fiscal affairs has decided that doing business through a website would not leave a company liable to taxation in the country from which the website has been accessed. The exemption applies even if a third party such as an ISP hosts the company's website. However the Committee ruled that a company should generally pay tax in countries with servers where business is routed. See http://www.oecd.org/daf/fa/e_com/e_com.htm

1.6 EU/US joint statement on ADR
A statement has been issued by the EU/US on using the use of alternative dispute resolution to promote consumer confidence. Full text available on request.

1.7 Commission adopts Communication on Computer related crime
On 26th January the Commission adopted a Communication entitled "creating a safer information society by improving the security of Information Infrastructures and Combating Computer-related Crime" The Commission plans to participate in a number of initiatives through this. For more information see http://www.europa.eu.int/ISPO/eif/Internet/PoliciesSite/Crime/crime1.htm


2 Internet (content) regulation

2.1 Online Publishers ruled responsible for content
The German Supreme Court has ruled that any Web publisher, no matter what his or her country of origin, is liable for any pro-Nazi or Holocaust denial information on their pages, previously it was only thought to apply to web material which had originated in Germany. The court ruling quashed the appeal of Frederick Toben, an Australian Holocaust revisionist who denied that millions of Jews died during the Second World War. He attempted to claim that since his Internet material was "printed" outside of Germany it was not subject to German legislation

2.2 French law defeats Yahoo
Yahoo announced at the start of January that they are banning the auction of Nazi and Ku Klux Klan related items. Previously the company did not actively monitor the material auctioned on its U.S based site. Yahoo has effectively admitted the supremacy of French law over a US company and thus have become subject to content regulation according to the "country of residence" rule. This may lead in the future to European website owners being made responsible for content which, although legal in the country of origin, may be deemed immoral elsewhere. The future Rome II regulation looks set to apply the country of residency rule with relevance to liable and defamation across Europe. (See later article in section 6).


3 Copyright

3.1 Copyright report nearly adopted
Enrico Boselli's modest copyright report was presented to the Parliament earlier this month with only 4 amendments to the original proposal. Such restraint was quickly eroded when the MEPs under the encouragement of temporary Committee Chair Willy Rothley tabled 197 amendments. Boselli was then left with the task of tidying up the mess and he has managed to produce 8 Compromise amendments jointly signed by Ana Palacio. Willy Rothley has also proposed one to Art 5.1. The MEPs are swiftly withdrawing large swathes of their amendments but it still looks like the vote in Committee will be quite long and difficult to predict when it takes place on Monday 5th February. The plenary is still expected to vote on the proposal between the 12th - 15th February. More information and copies of the amendments are available on request.

3.2 Collapse of WIPO conference
The World Intellectual Property Organisation conference on the protection of audio-visual performances broke down over the issue on the automatic transfer of artists' rights, which is common practice in the US but not the EU. The WIPO negotiations are intended to achieve uniform protection of artists' rights and of the audio-visual product of their efforts when broadcast on TV, video or the Internet.

3.3 WTO gives US Copyright deadline
Washington has until the 27th July to bring its copyright legislation into conformity with international law. The provisions deemed illegal concern an exemption authorising the diffusion of music in public places with sound systems without payment of fees normally due to the owner.


4 Advertising

4.1 Communication on Sales promotion due
Despite the German moves to abolish their retail law on restrictions on discounts the Commission plans to push ahead with the Communication on Sales promotion. According to a Commission official the German move is unlikely to be the beginning of a general trend to abolish these laws as they still have not decided to do with their law on premiums. The expert group is also tending towards an anti-liberalisation stance and thus a Communication is needed to push the reticent countries.

4.2 CEN pushes for advertising standards
The European Standardisation body CEN is targeting the advertising agency in a bid to expand its portfolio of standards. The organisation has been attempting to consult with industry in the advertising and direct marketing area to discover which areas should be standardised at a European level. Several Industry representatives have expressed caution concerning this initiative which it is feared could lead to the introduction of unhelpful or restrictive standards in the future.

4.3 Alcohol: Amsterdam Report Released
The 2001 Report on Alcoholic Beverages and European Society includes information on alcohol advertising and self-regulation, examples of social initiatives undertaken by Industry and the Amsterdam Group's position and recommendation for policy and action. http://www.amsterdamgroup.org.


5 Audiovisual and general media policy

5.1 Television without Frontiers Report
The report on the success of the TWF Directive was published on the 15th January. This reviews the progress of the European Audio-visual industry which now has a turnover of _50 Billion annually. A possible review of the Directive is planned for end 2002. The Commission will publish the result of several studies and launch a public consultation in preparation for this. A copy of the report is available on request.

5.2 Protection of Minors
The draft Communication on the Protection of Minors in audiovisual services has now gone to inter-service consultation. EC sources say that the adoption of the text is estimated for early March 2001.

5.3 Audiovisual cases concluded
The Commission has settled two cases concerning rights to audiovisual broadcasting. Ladbrokes Group Plc and Pari Mutuel Urbain have now agreed to withdraw all proceedings. PMU have agreed to supply to Ladbrokes live televised pictures of French races on a non-exclusive basis as well as commentary and data to be broadcast in off-course betting shops in Belgium. The Formula One dispute over broadcasting rights has also been settled as the F1A has agreed to withdraw from any commercial involvement in Formula 1 and other motor sports, thereby confining itself to the role of regulator.

5.4 French ban on American DVDs
The French Culture minister has signed a decree making it illegal to import and sell DVDs from the USA or Canada for the six month period that precedes their release on the French cinema circuit. Opponents argue that they are fighting a loosing battle as films will soon be available over the Internet so staggered release dates will ultimately be eroded anyway.

5.5 Online Radio to pay royalties
The US Copyright office recently ruled that radio stations would have to pay a royalty to record companies when they broadcast through the web. The Recording Industry has successfully argued that Internet streams are actually digital copies and are subject to different rules. This means they will effectively be subject to a charge for broadcasting offline which they would not online. At present they pay to music publishers but not to record companies or performers. In the meantime the National Association of Broadcasters are hoping that a federal district court in New York will overturn the ruling.

5.6 Cinema Communication update
The Commission has confirmed that they will be producing a "working document of Commission Services" on legal aspects of the Cinema Sector, probably including a definition of a European work amongst other issues. This will lead to a series of public workshops to encourage open consultation and the final Communication on Cinema should be produced by September/October.


6 General

6.1 Results of Telecoms Council on 23rd Dec
Both the Telecoms package and the Postal Services Directive underwent setbacks at the Council meeting. The Postal Service proposal was rejected by the Council due to the MEPs amendments which were considered not liberalising enough. There was also no agreement on the Telecoms package which as yet has not been voted on in Parliament. However the Ministers present did manage to set a budget for the eContent program of _100 million and limit the duration to 4 years (instead of the 5 years and _170 million asked for by the Parliament.

6.2 Rome II in interservice consultation
The Rome II proposal on applicable law has gone to interservice consultation. Despite the fact that the first time it was proposed there was an uproar due to the lack of consultation of interested parties and so the proposal was sent back to the drawing board. EPC have been able to obtain a copy of the draft which suggests that the "country of residence" rule will apply to applicable law in cases of defamation, invasion of privacy and liable. This has potentially huge impact on publishers who now may need to carefully monitor every article they publish to ensure it is in line with the applicable law of all 15 Member States to avoid potentially damaging litigation. The interservice consultation should finish by 6th February and the official draft will be released then. A copy of the consultative draft document is available on request.

6.3 Report on electronic publishing adopted
Barbara O'Toole's own initiative report on electronic publishing was approved by Culture Committee and will go to the plenary session on 1st Feb. It aims to promote European content in electronic publishing and enable workers in the publishing and book sales sectors to benefit from community training programs. The report invites the Commission to: - propose a legislative framework and promote new technologies to preserve the authenticity of publication as well as the rights of the copyright holders: - show a certain degree of flexibility in the methods of remuneration authorised to authors: - bring financial aid to small electronic publishing service providers, so as to create a counterbalance to the major media conglomerates. In particular the report also requests the Member States to consider the imposition of special VAT regimes to publications downloaded from the internet and ensure that VAT exemptions for offline publications are extended to online ones. A copy of Barbara O'Toole's report plus amendments is available on request.

6.4 Germany loses case against Germany concerning dispute over publishing houses
The Commission lost a case against the Federal republic of Germany concerning the contribution of publishing houses to the financing of the artists' social security scheme. The court ruled "the basis of the contribution including remuneration paid for services rendered by persons not insured under that scheme, in particular persons established in another Member State and subject to the scheme in force in that other State." Case details Case C- 69/99.

6.5 Books pricing proposal rejected
The Commission has decided to ignore a formal request from the member states for proposals to protect national systems of book pricing. The call was lead by the former French presidency to protect small retailers by defending the "culturally important" books. German and Austrian publishers were forced to break a joint pricing agreement last year after the Commission said it restricted free trade across borders. But competition officials have cleared other systems because they do not affect trade between nations. The Commission argues that there is no legal basis for an EU wide move on this and it would be extremely difficult to harmonise all the different price-fixing systems.

6.6 Internal Market in Services plans
The Services communication launched in mid-January will aim to create an internal market in this sector by reviewing existing measurers to provide a coherent approach to harmonising rules. The Commission argues that the traditional sectoral approach is too limited and by 2002 all unnecessary regulatory and administrative barriers should be removed. Part of the proposal could lead to new measures to harmonise rules on advertising, sales promotion etc. It is hoped the Commission will use the "country of origin" rule rather than initiating new regulatory measures. A copy of the Services Communication is available on request.

6.7 Ecofin approve renewal of 15% VAT rate
The Ecofin council has renewed the minimum standard VAT rate at the 15% level until the 31st December 2005. The 15 Member States have also agreed to make every effort to avoid widening the current span of 1o percentage points that separates the highest from the lowest rate country. The Commission had also proposed at maximum 25% limit but this was rejected. The Parliament's request that the VAT regime should be renewed only until 2003 was not heeded.

6.8 European Company Statute deal struck
After 41 years of discussion the EU has finally reached a political agreement on the Regulation for a European Company Statute and on the related Directive concerning worker involvement in European Companies. This now give companies which operate in more than one Member State the option of being established as a single company under Community law so they can operate throughout the EU under one set of rules and a unified management and reporting system. A European Company will be able to be set up by the creation of a holding company or a joint subsidiary, by the merger of companies located in at least two member states or by the conversion of an existing company set up by national law. The Statute will definitely be adopted by a Council meeting after the European Parliament has given its opinion. The legislation is due to be formally adopted early next year and should enter into force three years later in 2004.

6.9 Swedish Presidency Work Program and Trade policy objectives
The Swedish Presidency plan to work on the promotion of worldwide parallel imports of goods with protected trademarks. Parallel imports, that is to say the freedom to sell brands through distribution channels other than the trademark proprietors own, are currently only permitted in the EU/EEA area. Sweden also intends to devote attention to other aspects of intellectual property i.e. copyright, trademarks, patents, particular Community patents, and design registration- one of the internal market most crucial areas. Intellectual property will be of growing importance for growth, not least against the backdrop of new technologies. http://www.eu2001.se/static/pdf/program/ordfprogram_eng.pdf

6.10 Communications Review update
The Passilina report and amendments on the Telecoms Framework Directive and the Brunetta report on Access and Interconnection are now available although they have not yet been voted on. The Telecoms hearing on 23rd January called six expert speakers to discuss the concept of significant market power vis-ˆ-vis the planned specific regulatory framework. Some discussion concerned the risk to content production when broadcasting platforms are integrated with content to the detriment to consumers. More information on the Telecoms hearing and reports of the Parliament Committee meetings are available on request.

6.11 Way out of the Forest Based Industries
Thanks to an amendment tabled by Collette Flesch MEP at the plenary session in January the ball appears to be rolling for the publishing sector to finally move out of the FBI cluster. The amendment was adopted by 405 -51 votes in favour which requested a review of the present situation. Mme Flesch has since been in dialogue with Erkki Liikanen who has expressed his support for a move out of the FBI unit. EPC have co-written a letter to Pedro Ortun in DG Enterprise requesting the creation of a new knowledge based industry unit.

6.12 Packaging waste directive
DG Environment expects to propose the revision of the Packaging Waste Directive just before Easter this year. It is also considering making revisions to the interpretation of "packaging" and "recycling" possibly increasing the emphasis on reuse and adjusting the concept of "producer liability" so that it is consistent. As the proposal is already late (it should have been made by 1st Jan 2001), the new targets are not likely to be adopted until 2003 and they will still be in place in 2006


Upcoming Conferences of relevance to EPC members:


Internet Governance Conference: Who controls the Internet?
On April 6, 2023 the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation will present an international conference in Berlin entitled "Internet Governance - Who controls the Internet?", which will discuss expert analyses and recommendations on future-viable regulatory models concerning structure and content of the Internet. The conference will take the case study of ICANN as a starting point to discuss global self-governance for the first time in an extended, content-related context. See http://www.democratic-internet.de/Berlin2001/e_main.html .

Conference: From Convergence to Consolidation - What's Next in the Information Market?
Organised by the IST Diffuse Project, the conference aims to inform those active in different application sectors of the information market of key developments in convergence and consolidation; to examine how general-purpose standards and specifications in the areas of information management, data representation and communications meet the emerging challenges; and to promote and discuss innovation in digital content application development and services. Diffuse will be working collaboratively with the IST C-ECOM Project, led by CEN/ISSS. C-ECOM will provide an open platform within the European standardisation environment to enhance co-operation among the relevant IST projects, leading to more effective e-commerce standardisation. The event will take place on 7 March 2023 in Brussels and is free. For further information see http://www.diffuse.org/event1.html

Conference: filtering software and services in the context of the Safer Internet Action Plan.
The European Commission is organising a conference on filtering software and services in the context of the Safer Internet Action Plan. Participants will hear more about the scope of the current call for proposals and how to apply as well as meet potential partners. A benchmarking workshop will discuss how to assess the effectiveness of filtering software and services. Agenda information available at http://www.qlinks.net/iap/2001infoday.html, safer Internet action plan http://europa.eu.int/ISPO/iap

Third Annual TV Meets The Web Seminar
: May 16-17, 2001, Amsterdam Under the theme User-Focused Strategies for Broadband and Interactive TV in Europe, the Seminar will focus on the development of strategies geared to increase European users' adoption of broadband content and services across multiple platforms such as the PC, interactive TV and mobile devices. With particular emphasis on presenting real-life case studies, the Seminar will explore how infrastructure, software, product development and content companies are servicing users while creating sustainable business models. See http://www.tvmeetstheweb.com/may2001

EBC 2000 conference: Industry leaders from the broad-band communications sector will gather in Lisbon on the 2nd to 4th April at the same time as the 47th meeting of the European Cable Communications Association. The planned conference will hold sessions dedicated to the development of programs for multimedia terminals (integrated television and computers) and the balancing role for competition played by the European Commission. Among the participants are Commissioner Erkki Liikanen; Jose Graca Bau, President of TV Cabo Portugal; Werner Lauff, President of Bertelsmann Broadband and Robert Lynch, President of Chello. Contact Maria Manuel Magalhaes APDC - 00 351 213 129670 or e-mail apdc@apdc.pt

2nd WHO Ministerial Conference on alcohol: 19-21st February 2001 in Stockholm. Aimed at "protecting young people from the pressures to drink, and reduce the breadth and depth of alcohol-related harm." Contact Maria Renstrom +46 8 405 31 80 or mobile +46 70 687 16 19