September 15, 2016
The European Union has unveiled proposed regulations designed to help protect its consumers. The goal is to create a single market out of Europe’s many regions, enabling its 500 million consumers to access the same services. But the EU proposals also create stricter demands for privacy and against copyright infringement, including reforms that would hold streaming services responsible for instituting better anti-piracy methods. From the perspective of Silicon Valley and much of Hollywood, the EU’s efforts are a form of protectionism.
The New York Times notes that the plans, which “will still take years to come into effect and which will be subject to intense lobbying,” will affect Google, Facebook, Microsoft among others, showing “how much Europeans rely on American tech when using digital services in their daily lives.”
Among the plans to be announced is the potential right of publishers “to charge Google and other Internet companies … when they use online content from newspapers or magazines on news aggregation websites, like Google News.”
Another plan focuses on Internet phone and messaging services, such as Facebook’s WhatsApp, regulating them with “tougher telecommunications standards that now apply only to traditional text messaging and voice calls.” NYT notes that, for “the biggest American tech companies,” this could “potentially curb their sizable profits in the region and affect how they operate around the world.”
A third proposal would give EU consumers “the right to watch and buy some premium and online streaming content from across the bloc,” thus reducing the intrinsic value of that content. Also mentioned is the possibility of giving “financial incentives to telecom operators like Deutsche Telekom and Orange” as a way of investing in local infrastructure. Worrisome to American tech companies is that these telecoms could possibly restrict usage of the networks by competitors.
The Wall Street Journal reports another EU proposal, this one to aid the music industry’s fight against piracy “by making streaming services such as Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube beef up their ability to fight piracy.”
Among the provisions, the proposal asks for “online services to protect copyrighted recordings and songs that their users may have uploaded with measures that aren’t required under current law either in Europe or in the U.S., unless they receive complaints.” Services are also required to be “more transparent about their data and technology … underscoring the conflicted relationship that the music industry has with YouTube.”
YouTube spent $60 million to create the Content ID system, but “while the overall amount that YouTube pays out to music creators has been increasing, the amount that labels and artists get per stream on user-uploaded videos has been declining.”
Music executives approve of the EU reforms as a “step in the right direction” towards remunerating artists for the large amount of music uploaded by fans. The music industry in the U.S., where “lawmakers have also been conducting a years-long review of copyright law,” are looking for similar reforms.
Film, TV Industry Sounds Red Alert Over New EU Copyright Proposals, Variety, 9/14/16
The Winners and Losers as Europe Tries to Erase Borders for TV and Films, The New York Times, 9/14/16
Google Attacks EU Plans to Make It YouTube Copyright Cop, Bloomberg, 9/14/16