European Commission Acts On Internet Rights
May 06, 2009 -
The European Commission has launched a new online tool offering
practical advice on the digital rights consumers have under EU law,
while reiterating the need for pan-European licensing solutions.
In Strasbourg, the Commission unveiled the online eYouGuide in response
to a call from the European Parliament in 2007. It addresses issues
including rights in connection with a consumer's broadband provider,
shopping on the Web, downloading music and protecting personal data
online and on social networking sites.
In a statement, the Commission said that providing consumers with clear
information about their rights will increase trust and help unlock the
full economic potential of Europe's single online market, worth €106
billion ($141.6 billion) in revenue.
"In the EU, consumer rights online should not depend on where a company
or Web site is based," said Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for
information society and media, in a statement. "National borders should
no longer complicate European consumers' lives when they go online to
buy a book or download a song. In spite of progress made, we need to
ensure that there is a single market for consumers as well as businesses
on the Web."
"If we want consumers to shop around and exploit the potential of
digital communications, then we need to give them confidence that their
rights are guaranteed," added Meglena Kuneva, the EU consumer
commissioner. "That means putting in place and enforcing clear consumer
rights that meet the high standards already existing in the main street.
Internet has everything to offer consumers, but we need to build trust
so that people can shop around with peace of mind."
The European Digital Media Association (EDiMA) welcomed the eYouGuide
initiative, while noting that the Commission should monitor and review
the guide regularly to ensure it remains up-to-date and accurate.
Reding and Kuneva also issued an eight-point digital agenda highlighting
areas where consumer confidence and the single market for businesses
could be further enhanced. The areas for possible EU action include
"giving consumers certainty about what they can and cannot do with
copy-righted songs, videos and films they download, by ending the
current fragmentation of laws on 'private copying'" as well as "paving
the way for multi-territorial licensing regimes for online content"
covering music, games, films and books.
The Commission has already ruled, in July last year, against 24 European
collecting societies that it considered was impeding a pan-European
performing rights licensing system. CISAC, the international
confederation of authors' and composers' collecting societies, is
appealing the ruling along with individual collecting societies such as
The digital agenda also suggests working with industry and consumer
associations to set up a European system of trustmarks for retail Web
sites that comply with best practices.