Online platforms: European Commission in the right direction

On 25 May, the European Commission presented their approach to online platforms.

Press release 25 May 2016   Read here

In the Digital Single Market Strategy published on 06 May 2015, the European Commission had announced that the Commission would be looking into revising the current liability regime of  internet platforms in order to reduce the “value gap” on the Internet.

For a definition of the value gap from the perspective of the picture industry, click here

Those awating a major overhaul of safe harbour rules will have therefore been dissapointed: the European Commission expressly states that the present safe harbour rules in Europe will remain intact. Nevertheless, the proposals includes some positive steps in the right way for rights holders online. along the line of CEPIC’s positions as outilned in the White Paper on the Protection of Images Online.

Definition of online platforms

The European Commission includes a definition of online platforms be providing a list of features common to online platforms. This will clarify that not just any e-commerce website qualifies as an “online platform”.

Key principles

- Ensuring that online platforms act responsibly

- Safegarding a fair and innovation-friendly business environment

By stating that online platforms should act responsibly, the European Commission goes the first step to fix the “value gap”. The call for the establishment of level playing field for online services on the Internet is also good news and will support of CEPIC’s efforts with regards to Google Images.

The Value Gap

On their replies to the public consultation, rights holders across several content sectors (music, images, press publishing and broadcasting) claimed that their content is used by some online platforms without authorisation or through licensing agreements that, in their view, contain unfair terms.”

Leading to a number of measures, such as:

  • A fairer allocation of the value generated on the internet
  • A review of the notice-and-action procedures announced  for later in the summe

The Commission has recognized that the value being made from cultural content by some online platforms doesn’t make its way to the creators of that very content. This is good news but efforts in this direction must be pursued.