Retailers, digital media companies and consumer electronics manufacturers are urging the European Commission to cut the bureaucracy on collective rights management in Europe's emerging digital media m

Retailers, digital media companies and consumer electronics manufacturers are urging the European Commission to cut the bureaucracy on collective rights management in Europe's emerging digital media market. During a copyright conference in Dublin today, lobbying groups for the industries called for effective copyright provisions to combat piracy without unnecessarily complicated legislation.

The call came two months after the EC launched consultations on a new EU-wide law on collecting copyright fees in a digital environment.

GERA-Europe, representing entertainment retailers, is asking the EC to lift obstacles in digital rights management (DRM) that prevent retailers from developing robust online music services. Those obstacles include complicated licensing conditions and confusing rules on European collecting societies, the Brussels-based lobby group claims.

"No pan-European license for digital distribution exists due to the quasi-monopolistic regime of many EU member state collecting societies," GERA-Europe says in a statement. "Entertainment retailers should be able to get a pan-European license for online distribution of content based on the country of origin principle, through negotiations with one EU collecting society."

The European Digital Media Assn. (EDiMA) says the current collective rights management system in the EU stifles growth in the digital media sector. The Brussels-based group says any proposed EU legal instrument should simplify license applications for collective rights, and provide effective and robust regulation of collecting societies.

"Should these areas not be dealt with under an EU legal instrument, EDiMA would see this as a missed opportunity and would consider the reform to have fallen short of the requirement for change," says its director Wes Himes. EDiMA represents online services like Amazon, Apple, Buongiorno, Fnac.com, Music Choice, OD2, Tiscali and Yahoo! Europe.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the European Information and Communications Technology and Consumer Electronics Industry Assn. (EICTA) jointly called on the EC to vigorously promote streamlined DRM.

BSA director of policy Francisco Mingorance notes that the Apple iTunes launched in Europe just last week. "Yet alongside other initiatives such as OD2 and the new Napster service launched earlier in Europe, online providers continue to compete with piracy on a wide scale," Mingorance says. At the same time, BSA and EICTA launched a Web site -- www.europe4drm.com -- to provide information about DRM and speed up its development in Europe.

The Copyright and Creativity conference in Dublin was attended by more than 300 EU policymakers and decision makers, including Irish deputy prime minister Mary Harney and EU taxation commissioner Frits Bolkestein.

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