Commissioner Kroes – “Sites that make large sums of money at the expense of creators need to be stopped”

On 24th January, I attended the 2nd IP Forum organised by French MEP Marielle Gallo on the online distribution of audiovisual and music works.  Neelie Kroes, vice-President of the European Commission and a panel of 5 experts completed the list of speakers.

There was no representative of the authors. When I first saw the programme, I expressed concerns about the absence of any authors’ representative in the panel. As it turned out the timing of the IP Forum was very pertinent.  The week-end prior to the Forum, the French press relayed concerns from Mrs Reding and Mrs Kroes about the US legislative proposals SOPA and PIPA and the shutdown of Megaupload. So I took the opportunity to ask Mrs Kroes about this issue in addition to my initial topics (participation of authors in any discussion about the future of the content industry and authors’ remuneration for the online exploitation -my address is below and Mrs Kroes’ speech can be found here- you can leave comments on it here). Concerning Megaupload, Mrs Kroes clearly stated that Sites that knowingly enable massive copyright infringements and make large sums of money at the expense of creators need to be stopped”. In addition, in answer to my remarks, she said that it is part of her objectives that creators make a decent living from their art, as she declared in Avignon. After the debate, I was reassured by both Commisisoner Kroes’ team and members of DG INFSO that authors were supported and that any comments attributed to the Commissioner  as to the disproportionate measure of shutting down Megaupload were completely inaccurate. Her only concern was about SOPA and PIPA, hence her statement that “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.”

My statement:

“I would like to express my extreme disappointment at the absence of any creators’ representatives from today’s panel.  We are talking about their works, it seems to me only right that they should be involved.

Commissioner Kroes, I have heard this week-end that you expressed concern about the shut-down of MegaUpload. I am reassured to hear today that you agree that these sites which knowingly enable massive copyright infringements and make large sums of money at the expense of creators need to be stopped.

It is extremely important for authors that EU officials do not support such illegal businesses and the simplistic vision of freedom of speech and of the internet against intellectual property rights.

It is your responsibility and mission to design appropriate European anti-piracy solutions which defend European creators and business.

In this field and any other forum discussing the future of the content industry like the forum on the media futures, authors must be present.

Audiovisual authors in particular need concrete solutions to be put in place to help them enforce their right to be remunerated for the online exploitation of their works.  This is an important topic of the July Green Paper on which the SAA made proposals that should not be forgotten when discussing online distribution of audiovisual works.”