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EPC media alerts: February 2010

Your monthly EU media issues update direct from Europe's leading publishers

The following document is a regularly updated schedule of EU Media issues of interest to the EPC in order to give advance warning to journalists covering EU media issues. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information: heidilambert@hlcltd.demon.co.uk.

  • Key issues for 2010

    Media pluralism
    Content online and licensing
    State aid to public broadcasters
    Media literacy
    Data privacy
    Energy labelling
    Car advertising
    Alcohol and food advertising
    Gender stereotyping
    Telecoms Package
    ROME II and Brussels I
    Market Abuse

    Dates for the diary

    January - Consumer Directive to be discussed by the Council

    January - EP draft report on Brussels I due

    2 February - Conference: European Federation of Journalists conference: "Paying the price for journalism and democracy"

    2 February - MEP Focus Group on the Consumer Rights Directive, Brussels

    9 February - EP vote on Commissioners

    20 February - New Commission to take office. Delayed due to withdrawal of Bulgarian candidate Ruminiana Jeleva following accusations of wrong-doing. See below for list of Commissioners of interest to the EPC

    18 February - Google Books decision, New York

    22 February - European Parliament: "Combating counterfeit, contraband and organised crime"

    22 February - EP votes on draft opinion on the EU Digital Competitiveness Report

    22 February - EP CULT committee exchange of views on own-initiative report on Journalism and new media

    24 February - DG SANCO seminar "Youth drinking and binge drinking"

    26 February - Intellectual Property and the Information Society in the EU, Barcelona, Spain

    5-6 March - Digital cinema, Barcelona, Spain

    March - Adoption of Europeana by European Parliament expected

    March - European Parliament expected to adopt report on digital agenda

    10 March - Public service content - funding and the changing scope of the PSBs, London, UK

    22/23 March - CULT committee report on journalism and new media expected

    29-30 March - European Forum for Cultural Industries, Barcelona, Spain

    31 March - Informal Meeting of the Ministers of Culture, Barcelona, Spain

    April - Green Paper on Cultural industries expected

    12-13 April - Digital content digitisation - Digital libraries and copyrights, Madrid

    18-20 April - Spanish Presidency to present Granada Strategy

    19-21 April - Sharing cultural heritage, Cáceres, Spain

    19-22 April - EP Plenary vote, Digital Agenda report

    April-May 2010 - Commission to publish communication on i2015 action plan

    May - EU Telecoms Ministers to meet, Madrid

    May - The EC Green Paper on Cultural Industries due out

    4-6 May - Seminar on Culture and Development, Gerona, Spain

    5-7 May - Second International Meeting of CIMA -"Women in the audio-visual world: a view of the future", Santiago de Compostela

    2 June - Vote in CULT committee on journalism and new media

    7-8 June - Audiovisual heritage preservation and diffusion, Madrid

    March 2010 - Recommendation on Creative Content Online expected

    April 2010 - New rules on illegal filesharing due to be in force in the UK

    May 2010 - Adoption of WHO recommendations on food marketing to children expected

    More detail

    Conferences and events

    2 February - Conference: European Federation of Journalists conference: "Paying the price for journalism and democracy"

    European Parliament, Room 6Q1 2 February 2010, 9.30 - 12.30

    Journalism, its future and the media policies of the European Union are matters at the heart of a special meeting being organised by the European Federation of Journalists at the European Parliament on 2 February.

    An EFJ news release explains:

    It's a meeting that will pose urgent questions for Brussels policymakers and media people alike:

    • Where does the crisis facing media and journalism figure on the agenda of the European Union?
    • What vision beyond simple communications and public relations does the European Union have for an information industry in crisis?
    • What is needed to protect and enhance information pluralism in Europe as traditional media contracts and the citizens are increasingly starved of accessible and reliable news sources? And, just as important, who will pay for it?


    Last year saw major changes after the European Parliament elections and there are many new faces at the European Commission.

    Together with other professional groups of publishers and broadcasters present in Brussels, we have welcomed the creation of a new intergroup of Parliamentarians dealing with media issues. They are now keen to start serious talk about the severe crisis affecting media and the challenges ahead.

    We hope very much you will join us. This meeting could not be more timely. In presence of MEPs member of the newly created Intergoup for Media, the hearing will examine current trends for European media and will discuss how journalism and media can build a new social contract of trust with society in ways that will strengthen and reinforce democratic values. Crucial to the future of relations between media, citizens and the state is how to provide sustainable funding for media while protecting independent journalism.

    Speakers include Jean-Paul Marthoz, Journalist and Writer, Enjeux Internationaux (BE), Jeremy Dear, General Secretary, National Union of Journalists (UK), Chris Elliot, Managing Editor, Guardian News & Media (UK), Verena Wiedemann, ARD, Secretary General (DE), Cristian Unteanu, REALITATE TV (Romania), Adam Watson-Brown, Media Task Force, European Commission. The moderator will be Aidan White, General Secretary of the European Federation of Journalists and conclusions will be made by the Chair of the EP Media Intergroup, Jean-Marie Cavada.

    IMPORTANT INFORMATION: If you do not have a professional access badge for the European Parliament, you must send your personal details (citizenship, full name, date and place of birth and full address) to Bernard Vanmuysewinkel: bernard@ifj.org.

    24 February - DG SANCO seminar "Youth drinking and binge drinking"

    Youth drinking and binge drinking. 25 February 2010, Brussels, 10H00-17H00

    The Department of Health and Consumer of the European Commission, DG SANCO, is organising a seminar on Youth drinking and binge drinking.

    Despite the increasing scientific evidence on the adverse effects that alcohol consumption can have on children, worrying trends of (binge) drinking by children are a reality in all parts of the EU. This increasingly results in their hospitalisation or otherwise causing use of emergency care because of alcohol intoxication.

    The first part of the seminar will analyse the problem of youth drinking and the involvement of the medical profession. The second part will focus on the role of parents in preventing their children from drinking alcoholic beverages at an early age. Youth drinking and binge drinking is a multifactor phenomenon. Without suggesting that the role of parents is a key factor in the prevalence or absence of youth drinking and binge drinking, there can be no doubt that the role of parents deserves attention and consideration. Should parents for instance allow their under 16 children to drink at home, within limits on frequency and amounts, or is zero tolerance preferable? The views on this seem to diverge.

    The seminar will be chaired by the Director-General for Health and Consumers. Intended participants include scientists, medical organisations, Member States representatives, public health authorities, family organisations, youth organisations, and other stakeholders, such as members of the European Alcohol and Health Forum.

    10 March - Public service content - funding and the changing scope of the PSBs, London, UK


    Public service content - funding and the changing scope of PSBs, London, 10th March 2010

    Guest of Honour: Caroline Thompson, Chief Operating Officer, BBC

    This seminar will look at public service content in the UK, new proposals for its funding and how best to ensure plurality and quality post digital switchover. With several options under consideration to fund the creation of public service content, panel sessions will examine the proposalsand consider whether mandated public service content is necessary in the multi-platform, multi-channel landscape and the role of the BBC and Channel 4 following the analogue switch-off.

    Speakers: Caroline Thompson, Chief Operating Officer, BBC; and Ed Vaizey MP, Shadow Minister for Culture and the Creative Industries are delivering keynote addresses at this seminar. Other currently confirmed speakers include: Professor Steven Barnett, Professor of Communications, School of Media, Art and Design, University of Westminster; Magnus Brooke, Director, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, ITV: Jane Burton, Head of Content and Creative Director, Tate Media; David Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Attentional; Martin Le Jeune, Director, Open Road; Mark Oliver, Chief Executive, Oliver & Ohlbaum; Dr Damian Tambini, Senior Lecturer, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science; Jon Watts, Co-Founder, MTM London; David Wheeldon, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, BSkyB; and Senior representative, Five. Further senior speakers are being approached.


    29-30 March European Forum for Cultural Industries, Barcelona, Spain


    European Forum for Cultural Industries, March 29th and 30th, Barcelona

    Casa Llotja de Mar
    Passeig Isabel II, 1
    08003 Barcelona

    No. of persons attending: 500

    The aim is to reflect on the different models for supporting the cultural and creative industries and their direct, indirect and induced effects on economic growth and on the creation of jobs; all within the framework of the Green paper on the cultural industries.

    Structure and contents:

    • Plenary meeting
    • Workgroups:
      • Strategies for the establishment and development of the creative and cultural industries: access to investment, access to bank sureties, etc.
      • Training and qualification of professionals in the cultural sector. Fostering talent.
      • Contribution of cultural industries to local and regional development.
      • Legal aspects: Intellectual property of authors.
    • Plenary meeting setting out the conclusions reached.

    Profile of those attending:

    • Creative and cultural industry sector, both political authorities and managers responsible for the promotion and encouragement of these industries.
    • Institutional representatives from the EU.
    • Technical experts who have worked at the European level in the various workgroups producing the Green Paper.
    • Representatives of various sectors of culture, at each of the workgroups or panels in which the Conference is organized (economic sector, training sector, regional and local representatives and representatives from the various sectors of the culture industry).

    4-6 May - Seminar on Culture and Development, Girona, Spain


    Venue: Girona

    No. of people attending: 100

    This seminar is intended to increase awareness among those with responsibility in the co-operation area of partner countries, donor states, the Commission and International Organizations regarding the importance of integrating culture into the development policies.

    Two main aspects will be stressed: the need for an institutional development of the culture sector in the partner states and the contribution culture can make to economic growth.

    Structure and contents:

    Three consecutive meetings will be held:

    1. Seminar on Culture and Development for the exchange of best practices and open to experts and those with political responsibility from partner countries, donors and international organizations.
    2. Monitoring Committee created by the Brussels Declaration dated April 3rd, 2009, following the Seminar on Culture and Creativity, held at the initiative of the European Commission between April 1st and 3rd.
    3. Meeting of persons responsible for Culture and Development in the Member States.

    Profile of those attending:

    • People with political responsibility and senior public servants in the area of Culture and Development from emerging countries, as well as their counterparts in the EU Member States and International Organizations.
    • Professionals in the Culture and Development sector from Europe and emerging countries.

    A presence at ministerial level will be particularly important for those partner countries that have integrated the culture sector into their national development strategies. For other participants, the level will be that of Directors General, senior civil servants and experts.

    5-7 May - Second International Meeting of CIMA - "Women in the audio-visual world: a view of the future", Santiago de Compostela


    Venue: Santiago de Compostela

    No. of people attending: 400

    Attendance: Abierta

    In its conclusions, the first International Meeting of the CIMA (the Association of Female Filmmakers and Audio-visual Media) referred to the need to provide continuity to this kind of forum, so that the viewpoint of professional women in film and television could be better known and so as to create an international network that could input their ideas into the drafting of audio-visual policies.

    Taking advantage of Spains EU Presidency, this second meeting will foster dialogue on a European scale, as it will enable an understanding of the reality of different countries, an exchange of experiences and viewpoints and the creation of professional and human ties among European women.

    Structure and contents:

    Eight round tables will be held, with their corresponding discussion periods, in order to put forward specific policies and solutions in the area of gender equality in the audio-visual sector, and to tighten links and exchange experiences among women working in the audio-visual sector in different countries.

    Profile of those attending:

    • Members of the CIMA.
    • Professional women from the realm of European audio-visual arts.
    • People interested in the goals of the meeting.

    Consumer directive

    January - Consumer Directive to be discussed by the Council

    Andreas Schwab (EPP-ED, Germany) will produce a Working Document by April. Amendments will not be tabled before the end of June. At the same time, the Council will be meeting and working on the consolidated text prepared by the Swedish Presidency.


    Brussels I

    January - EP draft report on Brussels I due

    The EU Regulation Brussels I is the regulation that determines which determines which Court should here the case when there is cross-border conflict. This regulation is currently under review. In April last year, the Commission published a Green Paper and Report and launched consultation with interested parties on how to improve the operation of this regulation.

    A draft working document is expected any time now.

    The EPC is concerned as Brussels 1 fails to provide legal certainty. When publishers publish, they need certainty that when they publish, in print or online, the editorial content complies with the law and any self-regulatory codes that apply where the editorial decision is taken. With more and more content available outside the country of first publication, the need for legal certainty increases. Brussels 1 as it stands fails in this regard creating uncertainty and disproportionate risk of law suits in multiple jurisdictions. The EPC is calling for the media to be removed from the scope of the regulation and in any case to ensure that the law of the country where the editorial decision is taken is applied.

    EPC Fact sheet on Brussels I can be found at: https://epceurope.org/factsheets.

    New commissioners

    20 February - New Commission to take office. Delayed due to withdrawal of Bulgarian candidate Ruminiana Jeleva following accusations of wrong-doing. See below for list of Commissioners of interest to the EPC

    Most relevant to the EPC:

    • John DALLI, from Malta, is taking on the Health and Consumer Policy portfolio supported by DG Health & Consumers (DG SANCO). John Dalli is a newcomer on the European front but has extensive experience in social policy in his native country, covering health and employment issues, as well as industrial relations.
    • Neelie KROES, from the Netherlands, takes over the Digital Agenda portfolio, supported by DG Information Society (DG INFSO). DG INFSO keeps most of its previous issues, although the Media Programme Unit, which includes the media literacy programmes, is moved to DG Education and Culture (EAC). Neelie Kroes was a Commissioner during the last Barosso Commission as well, and was moved from DG Competition to DG INFSO, replacing Viviane Reding.
    • Viviane REDING, from Luxembourg, will be in charge of the Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship portfolio, supported mainly by DG Justice, Liberty and Security (DG JLS). DG JLS, will take over the Consumer Contract and Marketing Law issues that were previously run by DG SANCO.
    • Androulla VASSILIOU, from Cyprus, who will take over the Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth portfolio, supported by DG Education and Culture (DG EAC). DG EAC will take over the MEDIA Programme Unit that was previously under DG INFSO's mandate.
    • Michel BARNIER, from France, who will be in charge of Internal Market & Financial Services, supported by DG Internal Market and Services (MARKT).
    • Janez POTOCNIK, from the Czech Republic, who will take over the Environment portfolio, supported by DG Environment (ENV), which will loose its Directorate C, which will go to the newly created DG Climate Change.
    • Connie HEDEGAARD, from Denmark, who will look at Climate Action, supported by a new DG called DG Climate Action, which is to be set up before the summer of 2010. The main mandate of this DG will be the existing Directorate C of DG Environment (ENV) except for the Clean Air Unit ENV C.3 that will remain in DG Environment.

    Full list of Commissioners:

    • JoaquÍn Almunia EU Commissioner-designate for Competition
    • László Andor EU Commissioner-designate for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
    • Catherine Ashton EU Commissioner-designate for High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
    • Michel Barnier EU Commissioner-designate for Internal Market and Services
    • Jacques Barot EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security
    • José Manuel Barroso President of the EU Commission
    • Joe Borg EU Commissioner for Maritime affairs and fisheries
    • Dacian Ciolos EU Commissioner-designate for Agriculture and Rural Development
    • John DallÍ EU Commissioner-designate for Health and Consumer Policy
    • Maria Damanaki EU Commissioner-designate for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
    • Karel De-Gucht EU Commissioner-designate for Trade
    • Stavros Dimas EU Commissioner for Environment
    • Benita Ferrero-Waldner EU Commissioner for Trade, European Neighbourhood Policy and EuropeAid Co-operation Office
    • Mariann Fischer-Boel EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development
    • Štefan Füle EU Commissioner-designate for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
    • Máire Geoghegan-Quinn EU Commissioner-designate for Research, Innovation and Science
    • Johannes Hahn EU Commissioner-designate for Regional Policy
    • Connie Hedegaard EU Commissioner-designate for Climate Action
    • Kristalina Georgieva EU Commissioner-designate for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
    • Siim Kallas EU Commissioner-designate for Transport
    • Laszlo Kavacs EU Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union
    • Neelie Kroes EU Commissioner-designate for Digital Agenda
    • Meglena Kuneva EU Commissioner for Consumer Protection
    • Janusz Lewandowski EU Commissioner-designate for Budget and Financial Programming
    • Cecilia Malmström EU Commissioner-designate for Home Affairs
    • Charlie McCreevy EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services
    • Günther Oettinger EU Commissioner-designate for Energy
    • Leonard Orban EU Commissioner for Multilingualism
    • Andris Piebalgs EU Commissioner-designate for Development
    • Janez Potocnik EU Commissioner-designate for Environment
    • Viviane Reding EU Commissioner-designate for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship
    • Olli Rehn EU Commissioner-designate for Economic and Monetary Affairs
    • Pawel Samecki EU Commissioner for Regional Policy
    • Maros Sefcovic EU Commissioner-designate for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration
    • Algirdas Semeta EU Commissioner-designate for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud
    • Vladimir Spidla EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
    • Antonio Tajani EU Commissioner-designate for Industry and Entrepreneurship
    • Androulla Vassiliou EU Commissioner-designate for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
    • Günter Verheugen EU Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry
    • Margot Wallström EU Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy

    Cultural industries

    22 February - EP CULT committee exchange of views on own-initiative report on Journalism and new media

    On the 1st December the coordinators of the EP CULT Committee decided on an own-initiative report on "Journalism and new media - creating a public sphere in Europe". Rapporteur is the Danish Liberal Morten Lokkegaard (ALDE). Until now only the Greens have appointed a shadow rapporteur, the German Helga Trüpel. The timetable for the moment includes an exchange of views without text the 22nd of February, presentation of the draft report on 22/23 March (translation 3 March) and set deadline for amendments the 9th of April. The vote in the CULT Committee will take place in 2nd of June.


    March - Recommendation on Creative Content Online expected

    This is the link to submissions from interested parties during the consultation that was up on 5 January this year.


    The consultation addressed the role of legal online markets and explores a variety of copyright management models that may induce a more rapid development of such markets. Publication of the Recommendation following this consultation is expected some time in March.

    Link to EPC document: https://epceurope.org/issues/contentonline.shtml

    March - Adoption of Europeana by European Parliament expected

    Background information:

    The Commission has been working for a number of years on projects to boost the digital economy. These prepared the ground for an online service that would bring together Europe's cultural heritage.

    The idea for Europeana came from a letter to the Presidency of Council and to the Commission on 28 April 2005. Six Heads of State and Government suggested the creation of a virtual European library, aiming to make Europe's cultural and scientific resources accessible for all.

    On 30 September 2023 the European Commission published the i2010: communication on digital libraries, where it announced its strategy to promote and support the creation of a European digital library, as a strategic goal within the European Information Society i2010 Initiative, which aims to foster growth and jobs in the information society and media industries. The European Commission's goal for Europeana is to make European information resources easier to use in an online environment. It will build on Europe's rich heritage, combining multicultural and multilingual environments with technological advances and new business models.

    The Europeana prototype is the result of a 2-year project that began in July 2007. Europeana.eu went live on 20 November 2008, launched by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

    Europeana is a Thematic Network funded by the European Commission under the eContentplus programme, as part of the i2010 policy. Originally known as the European digital library network - EDLnet - it is a partnership of 100 representatives of heritage and knowledge organisations and IT experts from throughout Europe. They contribute to the Work Packages that are solving the technical and usability issues.

    The project is run by a core team based in the national library of the Netherlands, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. It builds on the project management and technical expertise developed by The European Library, which is a service of the Conference of European National Librarians.

    Overseeing the project is the EDL Foundation, which includes key European cultural heritage associations from the four domains. The Foundation's statutes commit members to:

    • Providing access to Europe's cultural and scientific heritage though a cross-domain portal
    • Co-operating in the delivery and sustainability of the joint portal
    • Stimulating initiatives to bring together existing digital content
    • Supporting digitisation of Europe's cultural and scientific heritage

    April - Green Paper on Cultural industries expected

    It has come to the EPC's attention that a Green Paper on Cultural Industries is due to be published in April this year. We are told that it will cover issues "linked with the further development of cultural and other creative industries in Europe". The Paper will be managed by DG EAC.

    A few papers will feed into the Green Paper:

    • The study carried out by the University of Utrecht, due to be out in April.
    • The Recommendation of the Cultural Platform (of which EPC is a member) - which came out last autumn and which was then sent to the Commission and the Member States (as they are carrying out parallel activities at national level).
    • Recently EMO (secretariat for cultural platform) sent out to members the results of the national expert groups.
    • (Possibly) another study on cultural and creative industries carried out by KEA consultancy.

    The EC Green Paper should be out in May 2010.

    Anytime between July 2010 and October 2010 the EC will come up with a Communication on Cultural Industries, which appears to be vague and not very concrete.

    More on this when we have further information.

    18-20 April - Spanish Presidency to present Granada Strategy

    The "Granada Strategy" is the new name for Europe's Digital Agenda/i2010 - An informal Meeting of Telecom Ministers will take place in Granada 18-20 April.

    The creation of a Digital Single Market, which the Spanish Presidency hopes will be the "fifth freedom" of the EU, will, it says, enable cross-border e-commerce to grow and will boost the development of the digital goods and services industry, particularly the digital content industry.

    The Spanish Presidency will therefore determine the objectives, instruments and measures aimed at closing the so-called "second digital divide" and will promote the development of next generation networks, ensuring the necessary financial support and the definition of a favourable regulatory framework.

    The Spanish Presidency has defined the five pillars of the future Granada Strategy: "the role of ICTs in achieving an environmentally sustainable model, the Digital Single Market, the next generation networks, overcoming the second digital divide and the Charter of Users' Rights".

    Alongside these pillars are the issues of improving security in networks to protect intellectual property rights on the Internet and promoting the development of a harmonised framework for protecting information society indicators.

    Copyright and piracy

    18 February - Google Books decision, New York

    The EU angle on this issue is that the European Commission aims to finalise a new framework directive for copyright and collecting societies in autumn 2010 or spring 2011, and is working in parallel to clarify the status of out-of-print and orphan books.

    Commission vice president Siim Kallas, speaking on behalf of the commission to to MEPs after an oral hearing on the Google Books project, said recently "The Commission is doing the utmost to develop the digital field in society. It seems to me that Google, and in particular the books project has appeared as a great integrating factor for the EU."

    "As we know well, copyright so far is explicitly in the hands of member states and and national legislation. Now we need some form of common approach," he said.

    "The next commission will take this very seriously. It is a high priority. Of course, we agree that books need to go online, fast. They will go without our will anyway. The most important thing is that authors are paid for online books," he added.

    "We plan a framework directive, including collecting societies, which will be transparent and accountable to members [of parliament]. We plan framework directives for autumn 2010, or spring 2011," he concluded.

    Kallas added that additional measures would be taken to simplify the rules surrounding orphan and out of print works, and that books are only digitised with prior permission.

    Kallas' comments followed a number of heated interventions by MEPs on the subject. Former industry committee chairwoman and German christian democrat Angelika Niebler said "Look at Google as a search engine. Everything is for free. It has a monopoly on the internet, so how do we deal with that so not just one service provider decides what content is made available?"

    This view that Google had a de-facto monopoly on the online books market through its Google books project was echoed by a number of MEPs across the political groups, including Italian socialist Sergio Gaetano Cofferati, French left group member Patrick Le Hyaric, and independent compatriot Bruno Gollnisch, Polish socialist Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg and her Irish colleague Nessa Childers.

    Portuguese left member Rui Tavares summed up the sentiment most succinctly: "Google is so huge that we are not doing anything. There should be no privileges for large companies. The principle should be defended, as no monopoly should be allowed. Google is admirable, and its ideas, in many ways, but having said that I am not sure this is the right option."

    But rather than attack Google for its efforts, most of the MEPs' criticism was levied at the failure of Europe to react to the technological developments permitting the mass-digitisation of books quickly enough.

    Hungarian socialist Edit Herczog said "This is another example of our passing on to the age of digitisation. Our legislation has simply been too slow. We have to prevent anarchy, the emergence of monopolies, and guarantee the freedom of readers, authors and publishers."

    In particular, MEPs such as Gollnisch said that EU funds for digitisation would need to match those earmarked by Google. German green member Helga Trüpel suggested that funds should be allocated in the new Lisbon strategy for a digital Europe to fund such efforts.

    Green MEP Eva Lichtenberger said "We've seen the various activities of Google books. But when it comes to our own European strategy, we know that we basically have been overtaken by reality when comes to our arguments. We are faced by the wide and broad digitalisation that Google has carried out. [...] Now we stand there surprised and faced by a situation where authors' works are digitised [against their will]."

    18 March - European Parliament expected to adopt report on digital agenda

    The draft report by MEP Del Castillo on "Defining a New Digital Agenda for Europe: from i2010 to digital.eu", contains some worrying points on a European copyright blanket and very little on the need to protect content.

    Below are some extracts:

    Emphasises the need to develop the free circulation of content and knowledge and to achieve, by 2015, a simple, consumer-friendly legal framework for accessing digital content in Europe, which would give certainty to consumers and ensure robust solutions that are balanced and attractive for users and rights-holders; urges the EU to accelerate the debate on copyright and to establish an EU copyright title under Article 118 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU by 2013;


    Developing the Fifth Freedom: free circulation of content and knowledge When it comes to the provision of digital content, Europe cannot claim to be the largest marketplace in the world, it is 27 separate markets. Providers of content are confronted with overly complex and nationally based licensing systems, which make it more difficult for digital businesses to provide compelling legal content offers. This not only limits the availability of legal content online, but also stifles the development of new media services. These issues are part of a difficult and urgent debate, but illustrate in any case that a fundamental revision of the current state of online copyright is becoming necessary. We need to accelerate this debate to ensure robust solutions that are balanced and attractive for users and right holders.


    Policy goals:

    • A simple, consumer friendly legal framework for accessing digital content in Europe by 2015.

    Policy actions:

    • Establishment of an EU copyright title under Article 118 of the TFEU by 2013.
    • Develop common EU-wide standards and rules for online payment methods (i.e. 'm-cash') by 2012.

    It should be voted in the ITRE committee on 17th March and in Plenary on 19th-22nd April. Draft opinion by CULT committee (MEP Ivan) is also not very friendly towards creative industries.

    22 February - EP votes on draft opinion on the EU Digital Competitiveness Report

    On 25th January, the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) discussed a draft opinion on the EU Digital Competitiveness Report and the main achievements of the i2010 strategy 2005-2009. The rapporteur for CULT is Catalin Sorin Ivan (Romania, S&D). The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy is responsible for the report, with Pilar del Castillo Vera (Spain, EPP-ED) acting as rapporteur.

    On i2010, MEP Ivan noted the need for a renewed strategy which should be comprehensive and focussed on citizens, with information security a key topic. He identified three key areas: ICT training / education for young people, the Europeana project (it is important for EU heritage, and should not be seen as a competitor to Google Books), and the creation of an EU portal giving access to video, film and books to all European citizens.

    MEPs asked questions on copyright and piracy regarding this portal. MEP and Vice Chair-woman of the Committee Helga Trupel (Germany, Greens) questioned whether it would be public or private and voiced concern over copyright and film access. MEP Ivan confirmed the public nature of the EU Portal and that Member States should consider promoting their culture, adding "...indeed we need to think about copyright and managing access, it cannot be free of charge." Regarding e-commerce, he suggested promoting technology at the EU level and raising consumer awareness to increase confidence in data security.

    MEP and Vice-Chairman of the Committee Morten Lokkegard (Denmark, EPP-ED) commented that the committee should deal with piracy and copyright, despite the sensitivity of these issues, adding that artists deserve to have their income protected. Chairwoman Doris Pack agreed on this. MEP Lokkegard added that the committee should address the growth of e-commerce the lack of consumer confidence in this area. The Commission representative said that they will take Parliament's input into account and add it to the digital agenda.

    Amendments to the opinion are due by 12 pm on 1 February. The vote will be on 22 February 2010.

    European Parliament: "Combating counterfeit, contraband and organised crime"

    Newton Dunn, who is co-founder of the European Parliamentary Forum for the Combat of Counterfeit, Contraband and Organised Crime has challenged the EU to develop consumer centred responses that will protect citizens from increasingly convincing fake goods and services being sold in conventional supply lines across the EU.

    "Next June we will host a counterfeiting exhibition that will show just how many goods are faked, and how far criminals will go. I hope that politicians and policy-makers will come to that exhibition and see for themselves the extent of the problem we face."

    The Forum on Counterfeit, Contraband and Organised Crime is a cross-party, multi-stakeholder body that aims to draw attention to the threats posed by contraband and counterfeit trade, particularly its links with international Organised Crime.

    The Forum's counterfeiting exhibition will be held in the week of 21-25 June 2010 in the European Parliament in Brussels.

    12-13 April - Digital content digitisation - Digital libraries and copyrights, Madrid


    The seminar will be held on 12, 13 and 14 April. The aim is to reflect on and to analyse the culture digitalisation process and the place it occupies in the knowledge society. An essential element of the analysis will be the European Digital Library and its repercussion on the Member States.

    News from December-January


    1.1 Microsoft-Yahoo! partnership under EU review

    European Union antitrust regulators have set an initial deadline of February 19 to consider Microsoft and Yahoo's Internet search partnership announced in July last year.

    According to both companies, this is a strategic agreement which is a critically important component in securing the long term health of the search advertising market. It aims to provide options for consumers and European advertisers and publishers.

    Microsoft and Yahoo! both have strong technology portfolios in search. But search is increasingly dominated by one player with 70%+ share globally (over 95% in EU) and that, say the two companies, is making it more difficult and expensive to innovate with any real impact.

    By joining together, Microsoft and Yahoo! aims to create the scale required to enhance innovation and to provide an alternative to Google.

    The companies have established a website at http://www.choicevalueinnovation.com to provide consumers, advertisers and publishers with additional information.

    1.2 Online resource for advertising compliance extended

    EASA's (European Advertising Standards Alliance) Copy Advice / Pre-Clearance Facility, the online service that allows users to easily request copy advice regarding advertising content from self-regulatory organizations, has been extended to include Romania and Turkey. The website, launched in November last year, allows users to easily request copy advice regarding advertising content from self-regulatory organisations; this can now be obtained from 17 European markets in one click.

    Just like the other 15 affiliated advertising self-regulatory organisations, the Romanian Consiliul Roman pentru Publicitate (RAC) as well as the Turkish Reklam �zdenetim Kurulu (R�K) will provide non-binding copy advice in complete confidentiality to registered users.

    The European Copy Advice / Pre-Clearance Facility is available on http://www.ad-advice.org and was developed by Clearcast UK in cooperation with EASA.

    1.3 Call for pre-9pm ban on alcohol TV ads in the UK

    The Guardian newspaper reports that a committee of MPs in the UK has called for a ban on alcohol advertising before 9pm on television, on billboards or posters near schools and on social networking websites. The report, by the House of Commons health select committee, argues that restrictions on alcohol advertising are not tough enough and that the "problem is more the quantity of advertising than the promotion". The committee criticised the lack of public health advertising messages and floated the idea that 20% of TV ads by alcohol advertisers be dedicated to health messages. The report called for alcohol advertising to be banned in films under an 18 rating and said that billboards and posters promoting alcohol should not be allowed within 100m of any school. A similar rule used to apply to tobacco advertising. It recommended that no medium should be used to advertise alcoholic drinks if more than 10% of its readership or audience is under 18; current rules stipulate a 25% threshold. The 10% rule would also apply to the sponsorship of events, an area that the report says has not been adequately regulated. The report identified digital media as an area in which alcohol companies have focused their marketing. Alcohol promotion should be banned on social networking websites, it said. The report called for a major upheaval in the regulation of alchohol marketing, which is currently shared by the Advertising Standards Authority and the industry-funded Portman Group. "The regulation of alcohol promotion should be completely independent of the alcohol and advertising industries," it said. "This would match the best practice in other fields such as financial services and professional conduct." The advertising and drinks industry was, predictably, scathing about the recommendations. "The committee's call for severe new alcohol marketing restrictions will be damaging and ineffective and we believe the system of advertising regulation is robust," said Rae Burdon, the chief operating officer of the Advertising Association. "The evidence is that these severe restrictions will not deliver the health benefits or the protection of young people the committee seeks. Their only effect will be to severely damage media, brand-owner businesses and sporting events."


    1.4 Advertisers in the UK shun high cost product placement

    ISBA, the trade body that represents British advertisers, has come out against paid-for product placement. In a news release, ISBA says: "It might be seen as uncharacteristic" but it believes the plans will lead to the double disadvantage of higher costs for advertisers and more complaints from the viewing public.

    In its submission to last month's government consultation on the issue, ISBA distinguished between paid-for product placement, where advertisers would in future have to pay to place their products on screen, and the current system of unpaid prop placement which has evolved relatively inconspicuously over the years.

    This system has seen programme-makers themselves seeking out branded products to use within their shows - at low cost to advertisers and without a single viewer complaint being upheld over the last 25 years.

    Bob Wootton, Media and Advertising Director at ISBA said: "Advertisers are concerned that the existing low-cost system of prop placement will be closed off and that broadcasters will drive them into more expensive paid-for product placement."

    "Advertisers paying more to place their products might then naturally expect to see them placed more prominently and it is this increased visibility that may well increase complaints from viewers."

    1.5 Spain legislates against "body image" ads

    The Spanish Government has stepped up its campaign against certain advertising that it believes is causing girls to suffer eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia by introducing a law which bans "cult of the body advertising" on television before the children's watershed hour. Advertisements for slimming, and some beauty products will no longer be advertised before 10pm. Other advertisers who use messages to children that concern the importance or looks or that link success with the way someone looks will also be banned. The law reads:

    "Broadcasters cannot carry advertisements for things that encourage the cult of the body and have a negative impact on self-image - such as slimming products, surgical procedures and beauty treatments - which are based on ideas of social rejection as a result of one's physical image or that success is dependent on factors such as weight or looks."

    However, alcoholic drinks less than 20% proof can still be advertised during children's viewing time. The beauty and hygiene sector is the third biggest spender on TV advertising in Spain - it spent about €500m in 2008. That year, TV stations broadcast 7,000 advertisements for dieting products and special treatments for slimming, cellulitis or other "body worship" products, as they are known in Spain. A further 55,000 advertising slots went to beauty products.

    Article based on coverage in:



    2.1 Digital Britain bill under scrutiny as report shows extent of Google impact on online news

    A Conservative peer, Lord Lucas, has dropped his proposal for amendments to the controversial Digital Economy Bill, whereby he had proposed forcing copyright holders to detail the exact damage they suffered when trying to force alleged infringers off the internet.

    However, a different amendment from Lord Lucas, "Protection of search engines from liability for copyright infringement", would rewrite the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and eCommerce regulations by granting search engines and content aggregators exemption from liability for IPR infringements. This would have a profound impact on the issue of search engines' right to crawl and index publishers' articles.

    However, the presumption (of having an automatic license) may be rebutted by explicit evidence that such a licence was not granted. Such explicit evidence shall be found only in the form of statements in a machine-readable file (such as ACAP) to be placed on the website and accessible to providers of search engine services.

    In other words, Google would be free to copy everything - but a publisher blocking search spiders with a robots.txt file, or an ACAP permissions policy, would be taken as withholding that right. An explicit "fair use" provision, which Google often cites against copyright-abuse claims, does not exist in UK law.

    Lucas told OUT-LAW Radio that copyright law was "a necessary evil".

    The Digital Economy Bill is the proposed law the UK Government is using to implement the parts of the Digital Britain report that require legislation. It was initially controversial because it includes the proposal to sever internet connections used by suspected file sharers, which was not part of the Digital Britain report. Controversy has spread to other areas of the Bill, though. Lucas has tabled amendments which would legalise the copying of web pages that is integral to the way that search engines operate. He has also proposed a remedy for people who believe they have been victims of groundless copyright infringement threats. Lucas said that businesses that rely on copyright should focus less on getting the law changed and more on restructuring their own businesses to deal with the realities of the digital world "I think the key to protecting copyright in a digital age is to offer the customer something more than they can get for free," he said. "We have to make copyright effective but at the same time copyright holders have to live in the real world."

    Lucas' amendments could yet fail as the Bill progresses. If it fails to win peers' backing, Lucas may yet withdraw it before the Lords decide on a version to pass to House Of Commons MPs, who may themselves remove it if Lucas does not.

    Meanwhile, AFP reports that new findings by Outsell Inc indicate that nearly half of the users of Google News skim the headlines at the news aggregator site without clicking through to newspaper websites, according to a survey released on 20 January.

    Google, responding to the criticism in the past from media tycoon Murdoch and others, has said it drives "about 100,000 clicks every minute" to media websites, generating ad revenue for the news outlets.

    Outsell analyst Ken Doctor said in a statement that "among the aggregators, Google's effect on the newspaper industry is particularly striking.

    "Though Google is driving some traffic to newspapers, it's also taking a significant share away," Doctor said."

    A full 44 percent of visitors to Google News scan headlines without accessing newspapers' individual sites."

    Thirty percent of those surveyed said they do not use Google to find news stories, preferring to use other search services or to go directly to news publisher sites.

    Twelve percent said they use Google to get to a news site and then use the search function on that site to find other stories. Fourteen percent said they go back to Google to find other newspaper stories.

    For its annual News Users' survey, Outsell asked 2,787 US news consumers in July about their online and offline news preferences. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.

    Outsell, which provides research and advisory services to thepublishing and information industries, acknowledged it is an advocate of more remuneration for newspaper publishers from Google.

    "Outsell has long asserted that news publishers -- as valuable suppliers to Google's 'manufacturing process,' monetized largely by 'paid search' - deserve greater payments from the market-dominating search engine," it said.

    Outsell found that 57 percent of news users looking for "news right now" go to digital sources, up from 33 percent a few years ago.

    Thirty-one percent were likely to turn to a news aggregator such as Google News, Yahoo!, MSN or AOL while 30 percent said they would count on television.

    Eight percent said they would use newspapers online. Eighteen percent said they would go to other online sites while seven percent said they would turn to radio.

    Article based on OUTLAW Radio interview, Guardian article and AFP


    2.2 Talks on private copying levies break down

    Global ICT companies and collecting societies have failed to agree on the issue of bringing private copying levies in line with the demands of digital reproduction resulting in the stagnation of talks in Brussels.

    Talks have been underway under the auspices of an EU stakeholder platform which has been meeting since July 2008.

    Levies are designed to compensate rights holders for private copies made on MP3 players or printers, among others, which consumers are legally allowed to make. Rules on levies were developed in the 1960s.

    The levies go to collecting societies which then redistribute the revenue among rights holders. Current EU copyright rules do not provide guidelines on which products are subject to levies and how much is charged, and as a consequence levies vary from country to country. Instead, EU rules allow member states to have "exceptions or limitations to the reproduction right for certain types of audio, visual and audio-visual material for private use, accompanied by fair compensation".

    2.3 EU pushes for single online music licensing

    A pan-European or 'multi-territory' licensing system for online music and films is gaining momentum as the Spanish EU Presidency intends to tackle digital copyright and online piracy in 2010.

    Background: Music authors' rights in Europe are managed by collecting societies, which draw royalty payments when songs are played live and when they are broadcast on media, including on the Internet. Thus far, collecting societies have managed authors' rights at national level, but as the Internet grows in importance, a borderless business model is gaining momentum. In July 2009, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes began paving the way for a pan-European collecting society as she pushed 24 European societies to scrap a clause in their contracts preventing authors from choosing or moving to another society.

    Digital rights management is high on the new Spanish Presidency's agenda and will likely be discussed by the EU's 27 telecoms ministers at their meeting in Madrid in May, EurActiv has learnt. The European Commission has been discussing the introduction of a controversial pan-European licensing system since Viviane Reding took her post as EU commissioner for the information society in 2004. The EU executive stated its intentions in black and white for the first time in an October 2009 reflection paper:


    One-stop license shopping This week, industry and consumer groups submitted their responses to an EU paper entitled 'Creative Content in a European Digital Single Market: Challenges for the Future'. In the paper, the Commission expresses the fear that Europe's response to online copyright and piracy will result in "contradictory national initiatives" harming the bloc's competitiveness and cultural heritage. If the Commission gets its way, national collecting societies that manage the rights of online content will have to integrate their systems, a prospect some societies have been dreading since the idea was first flagged in the 1990s. In practice, online music shops such as iTunes or Amazon will be able to access the tracks and CDs of European artists in one fell swoop, outsmarting conflicting national legislation and collective societies. Currently the author of a single work must have a separate copyright agreement on the piece in each of the 27 member states, leading to additional rights management costs. Moreover, users are often prevented from accessing content whose rights are managed in a different country. According to the October paper, the Commission could merge two existing copyrights into one - those of reproduction and performance. These rights are typically bought by online services that provide downloads and streamed content. A 'one-stop shop', the executive's more ambitious plan, would allow content providers to buy a license that covers the whole production chain of rights, which can include multiple authors, composers, music publishers, producers and recording artists. The October reflection paper, which is a joint effort by the Commission's info society and internal market departments, will be shared by the new commissioner for the digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, and the new commissioner for the internal market, Michel Barnier, once they have taken up the mantle from their predecessors in February (EurActiv 13/03/09 http://www.euractiv.com/en/priorities/new-european-commission/article-180216). In her previous role as competition commissioner, Kroes proved to be an advocate of a pan-European model of collective rights management when she struck a deal with music labels to establish discretionary online European repertoires - shared lists of online content (EurActiv 21/10/09 http://www.euractiv.com/en/innovation/eu-online-music-deal-challenge-big-labels-clout/article-186587).

    2.4 French court rules against Google

    The FT reports that a French court has ruled that Google Acted illegally in digitising French books held in US libraries without the prior consent of copyright holders.

    The Paris court ordered the internet giant to stop scanning without prior authorisation titles published by La Matinière, the company which brought the case, and instructed it to pay €300,000 in damages and interest to the plaintiff.

    The case is the first time that Google's ambitious scheme to scan hundreds of thousands of books held in US libraries - including foreign works - has been condemned by a court.

    French publishers, which brought the case, believe the ruling could prove an important legal landmark because US publishers - out-gunned by Google's superior legal resources - struck a deal before properly testing whether the company's project breached copyright law.

    Google last year reached a settlement with US publishers, although this is still under judicial review.

    The French ruling is an important victory for European publishers and a reflection of mounting European opposition to Google's drive to scan millions of out-of-print but in-copyright books and make excerpts of them available to internet searchers.

    But it could prove a pyrrhic victory if Google simply terminates the scanning of foreign titles and destroys the electronic versions it has amassed, removing French writing from what is likely to become the dominant on-line book search facility.

    In any case, the revised terms of Google's settlement with publishers mean that most French works will not be included in the digitisation project.

    The French government has earmarked €750m for a programme to digitise French cultural works, including the contents of French libraries, and some of the money is likely to go to bolster an under-funded French rival scheme to Google Books.

    French publishers say Google has never negotiated with them about its digitisation scheme, even though the millions of works held in US libraries already scanned by the company include thousands of French titles.

    Google had argued that a French court had no jurisdiction over its project to digitise US libraries. But the court disagreed and concluded that the company had breached the copyright of the plaintiffs.

    The publishers contended that the scanning of in-copyright books without their permissions contravenes French law. They also argue the Google's scheme runs counter to the Berne convention, a long-standing agreement under which copyright owners do not have to register in every country to protect their rights.

    The French case may have limited implications for US publishers. French law offers more protection to copyright holders because it does not include the "fair use" exception to copyright breaches contained in US law. Google has often cited the "fair use" principle to defend its scanning project.

    The publishers say the settlement also allows Google to determine in advance whether a book is out of print on the basis of whether or not it is available through US bookstores, which are not known for their large range of French titles.

    Extract from article:


    2.5 Spanish Government proposes new legislation against file-sharing

    As of the 8th January, Spain is among the countries which have taken up new stronger measures against illegal file sharing. The Spanish Government passed the Law for Sustainable Economy which involves the creation of an Intellectual Property Commission (IPC). The new legislation, which allows to shut down file-sharing websites, faces strong criticism from public and freedom activists, even though it states that websites cannot be shut down without a judicial decision. A newly established group of journalists, bloggers, professionals and creators published its "manifesto" stating that "Copyright should not be placed above citizens' fundamental rights to privacy, security, presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and freedom of expression." Another group of activists created a new platform for defending Internet liberties called Red Sostenible.


    Cultural industries

    3.1 New Green Paper due in April

    It has come to the EPC's attention that a Green Paper on Cultural Industries is due to be published in April this year. We are told that it will cover issues "linked with the further development of cultural and other creative industries in Europe". The Paper will be managed by DG EAC.

    More on this when we have further information.

    3.2 Neelie Kroes presents plans for her Digital Agenda

    Dutch Commissioner-designate for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes has been questioned by MEPs on net neutrality, protection of intellectual property rights in cyberspace, distribution of the digital dividend and ways to transform a patchwork of national online markets into a single one in order to improve the everyday life of European citizens.

    Ms Kroes said that Europe should invest more in development of information and communication technologies (ICT) and extend infrastructure to provide safe and secure 100% broadband access. Citizens should improve their computer skills, while the public sector should practice open standards - but the crucial task remains creating a truly single online market.

    Ms Kroes said she supported the concept of net neutrality and said that Internet providers "shouldn't be allowed to limit the access to service or content out of commercial motivation but only in cases of security issues and spamming". She also stressed that any attempts to stifle discontent in cyberspace, as it is the recent case of Google in China, would be a clear violation of freedom of expression.

    On intellectual property, Ms Kroes said she was aware of its sensitivity and warned that European legislation about it is still a patchwork of national rules: "Copyright is important for economy and culture, people deserve its protection, but no proper action is possible while there is no single market."

    Ms Kroes has, however, been called before Parliament again for failing to give satisfactory answers and for failing to provide inspiration, according to MEPs present at the nomination hearing. Ms Kroes has since written to MEPs in an attempt to reassure them that she is equipped for the job. The second hearing will take place in Strasbourg on 26 January.

    For detail on MEPs' questions, go to: http://www.europarl.europa.eu.

    Broadcasting and audiovisual services

    4.1 Greece takes the helm at the European Audiovisual Observatory

    The European Audiovisual Observatory has announced that Greece will hold its Presidency for 2010. The Strasbourg-based Observatory, part of the Council of Europe, collects and distributes information about the cinema, television, video and audiovisual media service markets in Europe, from both a statistical and legal point of view. Greece is represented within the Observatory's governing body, the Executive Council, by Mr Rodolfos Moronis, Executive Director of the Hellenic Audiovisual Institute (IOM). Moronis was elected President of the Observatory for 2010 at the Executive Council's meeting in Brussels on 4 November 2009. His deputy will be Konstantinos Papavassilopoulos, Head of the New Technologies Department at the IOM. Setting out his intentions for the Greek Presidency for 2010, Moronis expressed the hope that the Observatory would continue to expand in order to cover fields such as new technologies and tax law, both of central importance to media professionals and decision-makers in Europe. Greece follows on from the extremely successful 2009 Presidency held by the European Commission in Brussels. The Observatory's Executive Director, Wolfgang Closs, paid tribute to the "dynamism of the Commission" in steering the Observatory through 2009. Closs pointed out that the Observatory had jointly organised two major media conferences with the Commission in 2009 on the subject of television news (MIPCOM 2009) and on the application of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive in Brussels in November. He thanked Gregory Paulger, Director of the Commission's DG Information Society and Media, for his continuing support and enthusiasm for the Observatory's work. Closs concluded that he was looking forward to a fruitful and forward-thinking Greek Presidency of the Observatory in 2010.


    4.2 Commission warns states failing to respond to Audiovisual Media Services Directive

    On 21st December, the Commission warned several Member States which have failed to meet the deadline to implement the Audiovisual Media Services Directive that they must act soon or face possible fines. Few Member States have fully implemented the new rules, which allow, for example, for split-screen advertising and product placement in a limited range of programmes. Under the Directive, product placement is prohibited in news and current affairs programmes, children's programmes, documentaries and programmes providing advice, and signals must appear when a programme containing product placement starts, when it ends and after commercial breaks. Members states can still choose to have a ban on product placement. However, countries which fail to apply the changes relating to product placement could face legal action from companies based in other TV jurisdictions.


    Regulation of libel tourism

    5.1 East European criminals and politicians taking "libel tourism" trips to UK - Brussels 1 under review

    The EU Observer reports that organised criminals, businessmen and politicians, particularly from eastern Europe, are flocking to the UK courts to file libel cases to punish and scare off journalists who ask too many awkward questions, threatening the very existence of publications in the east that engage in investigative journalism. English and Welsh courts, where the burden of proof is borne by the accused rather than the complainant, have become the jurisdiction of choice for oligarchs and mafiosi. Saudi billionaires and even totalitarian governments regularly take advantage of UK laws that say that a journalist is guilty until proven innocent, according to a report by an editor with the Center for Investigative Reporting in Bosnia-Herzegovina (CIN), Drew Sullivan.

    The report, published this month by the US-based Center for International Media Assistance, says that while the problem of "libel tourism" is an old one, in recent years as daily newspapers, which to a greater or lesser extent had the funds to stand up for their reporters in court, have abandoned investigative reporting, the baton has been taken up by smaller, non-profit web-publishing outfits that are in a much more precarious situation."By publishing online, a media organisation faces the risk of libel and defamation suits in just about every jurisdiction in the world," the report says. "[The UK's] plaintiff-friendly laws, high defamation awards, strong willingness of British courts to accept jurisdiction, and exorbitant cost of legal fees make the United Kingdom perfect for oligarchs, organised crime figures, and wealthy businessmen." Ireland and France too are increasingly popular stopovers on the libel tourism trail, although Paris is attractive not because of the size of the awards (which are capped at €12,000), but because libel is still considered a criminal case. A journalist branded a criminal sometimes serves a complainant's interests much more than bankrupting him or her.

    In one example from June, 2008, Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov sued Ukraine's Kyiv Post newspaper and Obozrevatel, a news website, over stories about him. The Kyiv Post only had around 100 subscribers in Britain, but fears were such that the Post rapidly settled and apologised. Obozrevatel, which had almost no visitors from the United Kingdom and published only in Ukrainian, could not afford to defend itself and so Mr Akhmetov won a default judgment of �50,000. "From press accounts and parliamentary testimony, we know that in the UK, there are even lawyers who will read the newspapers just to identify possible cases, call the people involved and suggest a suit in order to drum up business," Mr Sullivan told EUobserver. "It's a sort of libel ambulance chasing." Mr Sullivan's own civil society 'start-up' at the CIN, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, regularly feels the heat from the subjects of its investigations, requiring the publication to have a British lawyer kept on retainer. "For our work, we are investigating organised crime figures, politicians, businessmen of fairly high standing in the community. In the 1990s in Russia, say, they would just send some guys to beat us up, but this is a bit harder to do now, so they are using the legal route to do basically the same thing. It's been very effective in eastern Europe." He said that the OCCRP is considering shutting off access to the UK to put an end to the lawsuits: "We have maybe two percent of our readership there, but the UK is causing 97 percent of our risk." Media lawyer Mark Stephens, who specialises in battling the libel tourists, explained to this website how things have accelerated in the last few years. "It really started off [in the 1950s], with Liberace suing over accusations that he was a homosexual, which he won. This opened the floodgates to a large number of celebrities doing the same thing for many years. This died away more recently when they began to realise that it was cheaper and more effective to spend a million on a PR man than a team of lawyers, and with much less reputational damage," "The claimant lawyers then moved on to Russian oligarchs, Gulf billionaires, multinationals and heads of totalitarian states, making London in recent years the libel capital of the world." But the problem is not limited to the east. In 2007, the Icelandic investment bank Kaupthing sued Ekstra Bladet, a Danish newspaper, after a reporter wrote articles critical of the bank's handling of tax shelters for the wealthy. While Ekstra Bladet stories were republished in English on a Danish website that gets few or no visitors from the UK, British courts accepted jurisdiction after the bank argued that London was a major banking centre and Kaupthing's chief executive resided in Britain. Fearing the huge costs of the case, the paper sought a settlement from the beginning and eventually paid Kaupthing's legal fees and additional damages, apologising to the bank. One of the institutions at the heart of the collapse of the Icelandic economy, Kaupthing nevertheless in December 2009 became the subject of a investigation into the bank's practices by the UK's Serious Fraud Office.


    5.2 Brussels I - Jurisdiction of libel cases

    The EU Regulation Brussels I is the regulation that determines which determines which Court should here the case when there is cross-border conflict. This regulation is currently under review. In April last year, the Commission published a Green Paper and Report and launched consultation with interested parties on how to improve the operation of this regulation.

    The EPC is concerned as Brussels 1 fails to provide legal certainty. When publishers publish, they need certaintly that when they publish, in print or online, the editorial content complies with the law and any self-regulatory codes that apply where the editorial decision is taken. With more and more content available outside the country of first publication, the need for legal certainty increases. Brussels 1 as it stands fails in this regard creating uncertainty and disproportionate risk of law suits in multiple jurisdictions. The EPC is calling for the media to be removed from the scope of the regulation and in any case to ensure that the law of the country where the editorial decision is taken is applied.

    5.3 Rome II - EP returns to the issue

    Hearing on rights relating to personality, in particular in relation to defamation, in the context of private international law, particularly the Rome II Regulation.

    The committee, prompted by the Rapporteur for Rome II, Diana WALLIS, has taken up the challenge of preparing a legislative initiative pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 225 TFEU in the endeavour to fill a gap in the Rome II Regulation1 which arose because the Council was unable to agree either on the original Commission proposal2  or on the compromise solution put forward by Parliament in the course of the co-decision procedure on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations arising out of violations of privacy and rights relating to personality. Manifestly, this hearing may also have a bearing on the review of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2023 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters ("Brussels I")3, for which the rapporteur is Tadeusz ZWIEFKA.

    1. Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2023 on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II), OJ 1997 L 199, p. 40.
    2. COM/2003/0427 final.
    3. OJ 2001 L 12, p. 1.

    Privacy and Data Protection

    6.1 EPC argues for no-change to directive

    In its response to consultation on the Data Protection Directive Review, the EPC has made it clear that it would not be in favour of re-opening the Directive. Instead, the paper calls on the Commission to:

    1. Look at inconsistencies in application and enforcement of the Data Protection principles.
    2. Provide definitive interpretation of some of the definitions in the directive.
    3. Following further consultation, publish an interpretive communication to ensure that Member States provide for adequate derogations upholding the freedom of the press and adopt a broad interpretation of "journalistic purposes". Clear language should make it obvious that legitimate newsgathering activities should be given great respect.
    4. Include an explicit reference in an interpretive communication to the need to balance the right to privacy and other fundamental rights such as the right to protection of property, the freedom of economic activity and the freedom of expression.
    5. Delegate the application of the principles with regard to new media and advertising techniques to self-regulation.

    The EPC stresses in its paper that the future of Europe's independent media relies on informed, light-touch law-making underpinned by sound self-regulation to ensure that we deliver the following freedoms:

    • freedom to inform our readers
    • freedom for journalists to report and comment
    • freedom to earn essential funding from advertising and make our content available in innovative ways through online and mobile platforms as well as in print;
    • the freedom to adopt our businesses in the ever-changing global media environment and
    • the freedom to regulate ourselves by appropriate means, already tried and tested.

    6.2 Reding stresses Charter of Fundamental Rights for new post

    Viviane Reding, the commissioner-designate for the new portfolio of justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, presented to the European Parliament this month and set out three priority areas that she will focus on if confirmed in the post: strengthening the European Union's position in protecting citizens' privacy in all EU policies, strengthening the right of citizens to move freely in the EU, and the need to ensure that all accused and suspected persons have clear rights in Europe.

    In protecting the privacy of citizens, Mrs Reding said that data protection will be "high on my agenda". Privacy in the context of law enforcement, crime prevention and international relations with partners, such as the United States, all need to be strengthened, she said. As a result, Reding wants to review the effectiveness and proportionality of many measures put in place in recent years. "The fight against terrorism is important, there can be no doubt," according to Reding. "But I am not convinced that we really need so many new laws and new restrictions on our citizens' privacy to achieve this purpose." As she said in response to a question on the use of body scanners at airports, "we should never be driven by fear but by values on which the European Union is founded". While emphasising that body scanners are just one aspect of a range of security measures, Reding said their use should be voluntary, respect the right to privacy by applying safeguards and assess the consequences on health. In response to many questions, Reding emphasised her wish to make the daily life of EU citizens easier.

    On gender equality, Reding said that "the yardstick will always be the Charter of Fundamental Rights". Her three priorities in this field are reducing the gender pay gap, which stands at 17%, bringing more women into decision making, and combating violence against women and children. Reding called on the Parliament to help make a difference, such that at the next elections in five years, "all women in Europe will know what Europe is doing for them". Reding acknowledged that in many areas she will be working in close cooperation with the Commissioner for Home Affairs, set to be Cecilia Malmström. If confirmed, this would be Reding's third term as a European commissioner.

    European Parliament media interests

    7.1 Update on Parliamentary Intergroups

    On 19th January in Strasbourg, the leading MEPs decided that Mr Cavada (France, EPP-ED) would be the Chair of the Intergroup on Media (which will deal, amongst other issues, with digitization, new technologies, copyright and intellectual property, digital libraries, the audiovisual sector and freedom of the press) and that the Vice-Chairs would be the representatives of the political groups: Slovenian MEP Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD), German MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis (ALDE), German MEP Helga Trüpel (Greens) and French MEP Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE). They are currently sending out messages to all MEPs to join the Intergroup and they will meet on 10 February from 5pm to 7pm in Strasbourg to decide on upcoming priorities.

    For more information contact MEP Cavada's spokesperson: Julie Messier: juliemessier@jeanmariecavada.eu
    +33 (0)6 19 57 90 81

    The intergroup on New Media should be chaired by Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake (ALDE).

    Intergroups are informal bodies of MEPs from different political groups. While intergroups are not considered organs of the European Parliament (as its committees and delegations are), officially recognised intergroups are resourced by the Parliament with meeting space and translation facilities. Most of their meetings take place in Strasbourg Plenary week and are open to the public. They usually invite high level speakers, produce policy documents, prepare Parliamentary reports and resolutions and organise events.

    7.2 EP CULT committee works on Journalism and New Media report

    On the 1st December the coordinators of the EP CULT Committee decided on an own-initiative report on "Journalism and new media - creating a public sphere in Europe". Rapporteur is the Danish Liberal Morten Lokkegaard (ALDE). Until now only the Greens have appointed a shadow rapporteur, the German Helga Trüpel. The timetable for the moment includes an exchange of views without text the 22nd of February, presentation of the draft report on 22/23 March (translation 3 March) and set deadline for amendments the 9th of April. The vote in the CULT Committee will take place in 2nd of June.

    For more information please contact
    Angela Mills Wade, EPC Executive Director on Tel: +44 1865 310 732 or Heidi Lambert on Tel: +44 1245 476 265 or visit www.epceurope.org.