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IMPALA’s Digital Action Plan

By | Published on Tuesday 27 January 2015


Pan-European indie label trade group IMPALA this morning unveiled a Digital Action Plan to inform the debate on the Digital Single Market in the European Parliament.┬áHere is IMPALA’s own summary of the plan’s ten key points…

1. Reinforcing the rights that drive the digital market and grow Europe’s copyright capital
A strong digital market implies reinforcing the “content” that drives it. This means strong creators’ rights, including copyright. An enabler and liberator of creativity and economic growth, copyright is a fundamental right and security for young people who choose to pursue a creative career. Proper remuneration from online intermediaries is vital. We need a healthy licensing environment without market distortions. Abuse of the “safe harbour” exemption and take-down procedures must stop for the Digital Single Market to function properly. Europe must also avoid new exceptions which would cut across revenues unnecessarily. It must ensure private copying compensation is paid by those who benefit from the exception and that all private copying schemes are kept up to date and cover all devices used to make private copies. Fundamental principles such as freedom of expression, transparency and freedom for creators to decide what happens to their works, including choosing territorial partners, must be reinforced.

2. Giving citizens the best digital infrastructure in the world
The digital segment of the European music sector grew 3 times faster than the global average in 2013, yet our digital infrastructure is not what it should be. We must make Europe’s internet infrastructure the best, fastest and most accessible in the world, with the best micro-payment systems so that Europeans can use the internet’s full potential to access culture in all its diversity. Increasing competition between telecom operators would also benefit consumers by bringing prices down.

3. Improving pluralism and diversity online as well as offline
Citizens’ appetite for culture and diversity is huge and we need to respond to this through concrete measures to increase pluralism and diversity in traditional and online media, as well as in the supply of creative works. The EC could broker a charter for stakeholders to promote diversity and mobility, two vital components of Europe’s Digital Single Market. Let’s measure performance through specific scoreboards. We should use the power and uniqueness of Europe’s culture to reconnect with citizens and start implementing the European Commission’s New Narrative for Europe.

4. Revisiting the “rules of engagement” online
How we engage online covers a range of issues, from respecting people’s data, property and privacy, to fair search, to ensuring “digital humanism”, as well as other vital “general interest” matters such as citizen trust in the online world and security. It also covers issues such as internet governance and generic top-level domain names (such as .music) which must be run by community led initiatives rather than sold off to the highest bidder. Europe must lead these debates. Further, artists and creative businesses are born equal. Online operators must follow the principles of non-discrimination and “must-carry”. Ensuring choice and innovation will also require regulating and unbundling “essential facilities”, as well as tackling unfair trading practices.

5. Growing Europe’s “missing middle” by improving conditions for smaller actors
Innovation, diversity, investment and jobs would be enhanced by levelling the playing field for smaller players. We need a new regulatory, competition, social and fiscal environment. Europe must grow its “missing middle” by creating the best possible conditions for smaller cultural actors who contribute the most in terms of jobs and innovation, and by opposing any further concentration in the cultural market.

6. Effectively tackling websites which are structurally infringing
Jobs and revenues would grow significantly if structurally infringing websites were tackled properly. This involves implementing the “follow the money” approach with advertisers, credit card and online payment services, as well as effectively addressing search results. ISPs should take all reasonable measures to comply with court injunctions to stop access to infringing sites. Cross-border application of rulings should be improved. It is also time to review wider internet governance issues such as the balance between anonymity and liability. Europe must lead the world here, as with the “rules of engagement” in point 4.

7. Increase investment through a new financial approach to culture
Investment in culture would increase if intangible assets were properly valued, including through revised accounting standards. Fiscal and other incentives such as loan guarantee schemes are also required, along with sector schemes which share revenues and reward investment in new talent. Allowing a reduced VAT on cultural goods and services online and offline and ending double taxation is also crucial, especially given the new “country of destination” VAT rules on digital products. Those benefitting economically from carrying cultural works must contribute financially to its creation.

8. Introducing greater fairness in taxation
With smaller actors and citizens shouldering the lion’s share of tax, it is time for Europe to make minimum fair and direct taxation of online operators and multinationals a reality. If we want citizens to re-engage with Europe, this would go a long way. This is also a pre-requisite to achieving a meaningful Digital Single Market.

9. Mapping how creativity works and measuring the sectors adequately
A better understanding of the functioning of cultural and creative sectors is needed to deliver the best environment anywhere in the world. Revising statistical measures to make sure they properly identify all relevant cultural sectors is also a fundamental part of mapping Europe’s future priorities. We need to be able to measure each sector separately and ensure relevant statistical codes do their job.

10. Placing culture and diversity at the heart of Europe’s international work
Europe’s lead internationally also means we must ensure that trade agreements respect copyright, the specificities of culture and its importance for development. We also need to see concrete implementation in Europe and internationally of the UNESCO Convention principle of fair and equitable access to the means of production, dissemination and distribution of cultural activities, goods and services.