Brussels, 25th May 2011

Making Europe a better place for music? IMPALA statement on Europe's new intellectual property strategy

IMPALA welcomes the move by the EC to prioritise the protection and promotion of copyright and other intellectual property rights. Such a policy is vital if Europe is to achieve its 2020 strategy. Artists should not be expected to work for free or on discriminatory terms and a strong lead is essential. We believe there is a long road ahead but this is a good start to making Europe a better place for music.

We particularly appreciate the recognition that internet service providers have to respect an appropriate level of care in their commercial operations and look forward to the EC proposals regarding how this duty of care should be implemented.

We fully support the importance the Commission attaches to a strong European IPR regime to reward creativity and allow cultural diversity to thrive.

As an association representing independent music companies, IMPALA welcomes the recognition throughout the report of the importance of the contribution of SMEs and the need to ensure that "The benefits of an enabling IPR framework should be available to all players, irrespective of their size. SMEs should stand to benefit from IPR as much as the largest market players operating within the internal market".

We also fully support the Commission’s call for “rigorous application of competition rules (...) to prevent the abuse of IPR which can hamper innovation or exclude new entrants, and especially SMEs, from markets”. Strong enforcement of competition rules will help Europe grow its missing IPR middle.

We also welcome the confirmation that there will be new standards of governance and transparency for collecting societies to level the playing field amongst right holders.

On multi-territorial licensing, our priority would be to ensure that any new licensing solution remains accessible to all rights owners and all users regardless of their size, the territory in which they are based or the language they speak. We believe that reciprocity and inclusiveness will be the key words here.

IMPALA is pleased to note that the Commission is giving specific attention to the need to properly value intangible assets, such as copyright. The proper valuation of immaterial assets would be a great step toward better access to finance for cultural SMEs.

With regard to private copying, we hope that the appointment of a mediator will help underline the vital role of private copying remuneration as compensation for rights owners. We are specifically concerned that not all Member States are updating their private copying schemes to reflect today’s technologies and that artists and other rights owners are losing considerable amounts of remuneration as a result.

A possible European Copyright Code could be an interesting concept as long as it recognises that doing business in music in Europe will always require a national as well as European approach, with strong national actors.

IMPALA also supports the Commission’s bid to level the playing field in the music sector by bringing the term of performers and producers’ copyright protection in line with that of authors.

IMPALA encourages the EC to follow-up on its commitment to support existing projects aimed at setting up a global track database.  This database should have a neutral management and provide equal treatment for the majors and the SMEs in terms of approval of database build/functionality, membership, management fees, access to data and participation in earnings. Local repertoire should be included on an equal basis.

The EC's intention to look at responsible solutions for user generated content through a stakeholders' dialogue is also to be welcomed as this raises very tricky issues. We expect the stakeholders’ dialogue on this question to be complex but fruitful.  

Last and by no means least, we are delighted that the vital question of awareness has been prioritised. We look forward to the public awareness campaigns that the Commission intends to launch. This is essential as understanding, particularly among young people, is very low.