On 28 July, the European Commission launched a public consultation on ways to stimulate the growth of a true EU single market for online digital content, such as music, films and games. Responses to its questionnaire will shape a Commission Communication on Content Online, due to be adopted at the end of 2006. The deadline for replies is 13 October 2006.
The Commission’s questionnaire includes important and topical questions:
- Is progress needed as regards interoperability of digital rights management (DRM) systems in Europe?
- Would businesses benefit from pan-European or multi-territory licensing and clearance?
- Which economic and regulatory barriers do online content services face in Europe’s single market?
The Commission launches its consultation on online content against the background of the rapid convergence of audiovisual media, broadband networks and electronic devices. It builds on its other consultations concerning audiovisual content such as its review of sports content over mobile phones (3G) and of the Television Without Frontiers Directive with a view to including online content.
The creation of an open and competitive single market for online content is one of the key aims of the EU's i2010 initiative. In July 2005, industry leaders from the IT, telecommunication and media sectors agreed to work with the Commission on an "Agenda for Unlocking Europe’s Digital Economy", in which the promotion of media content markets through effective rights protection, licensing arrangements and encouraging legitimate use of content was given priority. This consultation is an important part of the process.