Neelie Kroes_Creativity for the Creative Sector: Entertaining Europe in the Electronic Age

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European Parliament Intellectual Property Forum, European Parliament

Thank you for inviting me to speak on the opportunities for the creative sector in the online age.

It’s an important topic. This sector offers our rich cultural heritage a proud platform; our people an opportunity for self-expression; our economy a much-needed boost.

And the digital era brings vast opportunities: I want the creative sector to make the most out of them. And that’s why we just held a consultation on that very topic.

Reviewing the results is proving very interesting. Different actors have different emphasis and perspectives, of course. But few find much merit in sticking to the status quo.

To stay in the game, Europe must adapt. Many actors already see the economies of scale from making it easy to operate across borders. They see the advantage of systems that are more transparent, more streamlined, more direct. They see the benefits for European creators, consumers, and culture.

Of course, many are also concerned about issues of illegal content. And I agree with them that we need to push people away from piracy towards legal content. Sites that knowingly enable massive copyright infringements and make large sums of money at the expense of creators need to be stopped. As regards legislation to combat piracy, I have said on a number of occasions that we should not put in place disproportionate and highly intrusive measures with the potential to disrupt legitimate online activities. Therefore I think the US legislators have done the right thing by making a pause and seeking a better anti-piracy solution than the SOPA and PIPA bills which were on the table.

Closer to home, we urgently need to do much more in our quest for the European Digital Single Market, to generate more growth and jobs, to better reward and recognise creators and to offer a better deal to European consumers.

In the music industry, we already saw the signs of digital transformation a decade ago. The music industry clung on for dear life to a model based on CDs. For as long as they could: for far too long, in fact.

The music industry has learned its lesson, and is embracing the digital age. It took some painful decisions on our side – some at my initiative when I was Commissioner for Competition. But we have seen new licensing models arising, and more and more legal offers. There is still work to be done to facilitate cross border licensing and ensure transparency, but my colleague Michel Barnier is working hard on that.

That is positive: we have provided a better digital offer, and we have shown that people are willing to pay for it. Last year, for the first time since 2004, overall music sales were up: and that was thanks to digital. Digital downloads soared 17% to 3.6 billion, and the number of paying subscribers 65% to over 13 million. Here to read more.

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