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Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU

What to do with it? Can the EU find an answer?

Licences for Europe


Licences for Europe [1] is organised as part of the EC strategy on the so-called Digital Single Market. It was announced 18 December 2012 and is a joint initiative led by Commissioners Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services), Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda) and Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth) to deliver rapid progress in bringing content online through practical industry-led solutions. Licences for Europe aims to engage stakeholders in four areas:

  1. Cross-border access and the portability of services
  2. User-generated content and licensing
  3. Audiovisual sector and cultural heritage
  4. Text and Data Mining

The process is labelled as a stakeholder dialogue and is scheduled to run throughout 2013. At the end of the dialogue at the beginning of 2014, the Commission is likey to produce a legislative proposal.

Commission DescriptionEdit

The European Commission describes the situation as follows:

"Online there are new ways of providing, creating and distributing content, and new ways to generate value. The emergence of new business models that use the internet to deliver content represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the creative industries, authors and artists. The digital economy has been a major driver of growth in the past two decades, and is expected to grow seven times faster than overall EU GDP in coming years. The aim of the European Commission is to ensure that copyright and licensing stay fit for purpose in this new digital context."

Release CycleEdit

Licenses for Europe is part of the proceeding to update European copyright legislation. As we're before the end of the drafting process of the European Commission, it is not unlikely that points discussed during this consultation will appear in the legislation proposal.

State of Play - Consultation.png


4 July 2013 - Plenary & Mid-Term ReviewsEdit

Plenary session that was supposed to provide updates about the progress in the different work groups. The process seems stalled, despite claims from large parts of the industry side that progress is good. Civil society organisations and non-for profits have been a small minority from the start, but the last months saw the departure of many of these groups, notably the Open Knowledge Foundation from WG4 (text and data mining), European Digital Rights from the cross-border access work group (although they still participate in the work group on user-generated content) and the European Consumer Organisation from the entire process. Creative Commons have also stopped following the initiative, although they have not formally resigned from it. The main criticism is that the whole organisation is aimed at distracting from the actual issues of copyright legislation by trying to find "short-term, workable market solutions". This prevents a real and open discussion on the problems surrounding intellectual property rights.

NB: As these events follow the Chatham House Rule, statements and quotes are not attributed to speakers and organisations, unless these have themselves presented their positions to the public.

WG1 - Cross-border access and portability official page
Nutshell.svgIn a nutshell:

  • There is practically no civil society organisation left in the group, as focus is clearly on business models and profitability as opposed to legislative change.
  • The industry heavily defends territorial licences in the European Digital Single Market, stating that this is the best way to ensure profitability and provide adequate customer services.
  • Statements in support of territorial licensing and territorial content blocking within the EU: "Film posters need to be localised for each market, which costs money." and "When you can't access music services across borders, this is to better meet consumer demand.".

WG2 - User-generated content and small scale licensing official page
Nutshell.svgIn a nutshell:

  • According to the presented update, new type of copyright licences for low-value content and uses are needed.
  • Plenty of suggestions to have collecting societies set up pan-European platforms for small-scale licensing.
  • Statement: "When users create they want to protect their right and ensure remuneration."
  • Notable absence of user groups or user representatives in this work group.

WG3 - Audiovisual and film heritage official page
Nutshell.svgIn a nutshell:

  • Purpose of group is to find ways to reduce cost of transborder transferability in Europe.
  • Need for a platform providing information about relevant legislation in each country.
  • As digitalising and providing of cultural heritage costs money, some organisations claim they need working business models and licences that enable them to collect fees.

WG4 - Text and data mining official page
Nutshell.svgIn a nutshell:

  • Civil society and academic actors that stepped out of the process, defended the position that "right to read is right to mine".
  • Industry actors work on new and additional licences.
  • Having the focus set only on licensing, caters to a small circle of participants while, avoiding actual problems, according to a number of civil society organisations.


25 May 2013 - Research Sector Organisations Withdraw from Text and Data Mining WGEdit

A number of prominent non-for profit organisations have chosen to cease their participation in the text and data mining work group of the stakeholder dialogue, citing lack of transparency and a narrow focus not permitting real issues to be addressed as main reasons. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

27 February 2013 - European Consumer Organisation WithdrawsEdit

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) has announced that it will no longer participate in the Licenses for Europe initiative by the European Commission, stating a poorly designed process and obvious imbalances in representation as main reasons. BEUC does not want to leave the impressiion that it is legitimising a political compromise that does not address real barriers. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4 February 2013 - Licenses for Europe: Kick-Off Plenary SessionEdit

The structured stakeholder dialogue was opened by a plenary session attended by all three responsible Commissioners - Michel Barnier, Neelie Kroesand and Androulla Vasilliou. Following the plenary, the four working groups - Cross-border Working group (WG1), User-Generated Content Working Group (WG2), Audiovisual Sector and Cultural Heritage Institutions (WG3) and Text and Data Mining for Scientific Research Purposes (WG4) - had their first meetings.

Speech by Michael BarnierEdit

Nutshell.svgIn a nutshell:

  • New forms of contractual relations necessary.
  • Single market/cross-border access to cotent is a must.
  • Legal certainty for users that re-use online content.
  • How to make use of data mining technologies?

Speech by Neelie KroesEdit

Nutshell.svgIn a nutshell:

  • People are afraid of re-using digital content.
  • Researchers and scientist need simpler access regulation.
  • Licenses must fit reality and be simplified.

Speech by Androulla VassiliouEdit

Nutshell.svgIn a nutshell:

  • Copyright protects cultural diversity and rewards creativity.
  • Cross-border availablity is crucial.
  • Improve transparency of users', re-users' and creators' rights.
  • Do something with text and data mining.


18 December 2013 - EC Adopts Official Communication on Copyright ReformEdit

Full Name of Document: Copyright: Commission urges industry to deliver innovative solutions for great access to online content
Type: Press Release
Institution: European Commission

Nutshell.svgIn a nutshell:

  • Structured stakeholder dialogue to be launched in 2013.
  • Responsible Commissioners are Barnier (Internal Market and Services), Kores (Digital Agenda) and Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth)
  • An on-going review of current EU copyright will be completed and generate input for the discussions.
  • The dialogue will be centred around four issues:
    • Cross-border access and the portability of services
    • User-generated content and licensing for small-scale users of protected material
    • Audiovisual sector and cultural heritage institutions
    • Text and data mining


6 December 2012 - IP Forum: Licenses for EuropeEdit

Full Name of Document: Licences for Europe: quality content and new opportunities for all Europeans in the digital era
Type: Speech by Commissioner Barnier at IP Forum organised at the European Parliament by MEP Marielle Gallo.
Institution: European Commission (speech), European Parliament (IP Froum)
Detailled report of the IP Froum

Nutshell.svgIn a nutshell:

  • InfoSoc Directive revision possible
  • New exception to copyright not off the table
  • Stakeholder dialogue to be lauched
  • Cross border licensing and content availability is top priority


5 December 2012 - Orientation Debate on CopyrightEdit

Full Name of Document: Commission agrees way forward for modernising copyright in the digital economy
Type: MEMO
Institution: European Commission

Nutshell.svgIn a nutshell:

  • Copyright must remain fit for the purpose of growth and innovation
  • Stakeholder dialogue to be initiated in 2013
  • New legislation proposal possible in 2014