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EPC media alerts: May 2002

The monthly update on EU media issues

Data protection


The e-commerce, advertising and online publishing industries breathed a sigh of relief when the European Parliament adopted the Spanish Presidency compromise at Second Reading in May to save "cookies", the user-friendly Internet tool used by the advertising and e-commerce industry to authenticate users and speed-up and simplify use of the Internet.

Industry narrowly escaped the legal requirement to seek prior agreement from consumers to activate cookies - a requirement which would have seriously threatened the financial viability of many online companies and disadvantaged Internet users.

The Telecoms Council is expected to accept the new text when they meet on 18 June thus avoiding the need for conciliation.  The Directive is likely to be formally adopted in July this year and should take effect by October 2003.

Click here for fact-sheet on cookies.



Spanish Presidency takes lead on IP

The Spanish Presidency has been busy on the Intellectual Property front hosting an IP seminar for Member State ministers last month in Madrid and due to stage a major three-day conference on copyright in Santiago 16-18 June. The EPC will be attending the Santiago event where it will pay special attention to the issue of authors' versus publishers' rights and the issues of collective management of rights and digital rights.

Click here for information on the conference.

The conference programme is available from heidilambert@hlcltd.demon.co.uk on request

The Madrid event in May produced five proposals for action:

  1. action to raise public awareness of cybercrime
  2. the creation of a uniform legal framework in the EU to tackle violation of IP rights
  3. the establishment of the European Observatory on Infringement of IP
  4. the stepping-up of judicial and police cooperation in Europe against infringements
  5. more intensive training programmes for members of the judiciary and the police responsible for the protection of IP


German Government stalls on copyright directive

The German Government is postponing implementation of the EC copyright directive until after the general election in September. The German law, which has had to be amended according to the directive, does not yet address important issues such as the prohibition of the circumvention of technical protection of works or limitations on private copying.

Germany is not the only Member State to have missed the implementation deadline and the EPC is monitoring developments.


Alcohol advertising under threat in Spain

A draft bill has been proposed by the Spanish Government which would ban the advertising on TV and radio of any alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of more than 20%. The bill would also limit the promotion of beer, wine and cava on TV to between 22.00 and 08.00 and limit the percentage of ads for alcohol. Alcoholic brand sponsorship of TV programmes would also be prohibited.

The EPC is concerned that the bill includes the proposal to limit alcohol advertising in the print media, something which could have implications for cross-border circulation of foreign publications.

France in trouble over retail ad ban

The European Commission has taken action against a French law which bans retail groups from advertising on television. France negotiated a "cultural exception" agreement to limit certain advertising to the press to "protect press diversity". The French Government is likely to argue that retail advertising falls into one of these restricted categories but will have a hard job convincing the European Commission that there are no alternative, less restrictive measures to protect press diversity and small businesses.

The French Government has two months in which to respond if it is to avoid being taken to the European Court of Justice.


TV without frontiers

Revision delayed

Ministers at the May Culture Council decided to put revision of the TV Without Frontiers directive on hold, favouring the setting up of a work programme and the development of a proposal at a later date.

Consumer protection

VAT rules on e-commerce to be modified

Rules for applying VAT to certain services supplied by electronic means are to be modified. The new directive and regulation will also cover subscription-based and pay-per-view radio and TV broadcasting.

The new rules will require suppliers of digital products from outside the EU to charge VAT on sales to private consumers for the first time. Non-EU suppliers will be obliged to register with a VAT authority in a Member State of their choice and to levy VAT at the rate applicable to the customer's country of residence.

The rules will apply to the electronic provision of information and cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific, educational, entertainment or similar services and to broadcasting services.

The directive takes immediate effect and the Regulation some time after July 2003.

For more information on any of the following issues, contact Heidi Lambert Communications Tel: +44 1245 476 265.

Internet regulation
Market abuse
Tobacco advertising
Children's advertising
Jurisdiction and applicable law
Duty to trade fairly
Sales promotion


Angela Mills, Director of  EPC: Tel: +32 2 231 1299 (Brussels) or +44 1865 310 732 (UK) angela.mills@epceurope.org.

Heidi Lambert: Tel: +44 1245 476 265 heidilambert@hlcltd.demon.co.uk.