According to the Commission, the cultural and creative sectors, often IPR intensive, already account for up to 4.5% of GDP and up to 8.5 million jobs in the European Union and are not only essential for cultural diversity but also significantly contribute to social and economic development. The key objective of the Action Plan should be to ensure the effective enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) which plays a key role in stimulating innovation, creativity, competitiveness, growth and cultural diversity.
While data on the number and type of intellectual property rights in existence is relatively easy to collect and analyse, studies on the scope and scale of IP infringements and their relation to criminality have been more difficult. In a time of financial crisis when funding for culture suffers from severe cuts, IPR enforcement is often a primary source of revenue for artists and creators; therefore attaining and safeguarding a fair remuneration for artists, creators and right holders should be one of the key objectives of the Action Plan.
It is important to ensure the application of due diligence throughout the supply chain, including the digital supply chain and all the key actors and operators in it, such as creators, artists and right holders, producers, intermediaries, internet service providers, online sales platforms, end users and public authorities. It is also important to improve IP civil enforcement procedures for SMEs and individual creators, as they play a key role in the creative and cultural sectors and often do not have the capacity to enforce their rights given the complexity, cost and length of such procedures. In preventing commercial scale IPR infringements, it is also important to enlarge the legal offer of diversified cultural and creative content online and to increase its accessibility.
In the cultural and creative sector in particular cooperation, including on the basis of self-regulation, between rights holders, authors, platform operators, intermediaries and final consumers should be encouraged with a view to detecting IPR infringements at an early stage; the effectiveness of such self-regulation must be assessed by the Commission in the near future and further legislative measures may be necessary.
In the cultural and creative sector payment service providers should be involved in the dialogue with a view to reducing the profits generated by IPR infringements in the online sphere. The system for the notification and removal, one URL at a time, of content that infringes IPR, has practical limitations in view of the speed with which the content in question can be made available again. In Member States where this is permitted by law, the blocking by a court ruling of internet sites which allow IPR infringements has practical limitations in the long term.
Where IPR infringements are committed by the public, this is sometimes because it is hard or impossible to find the desired content offered legally. The reciprocal protection of intellectual property must be a key component of economic cooperation with other States and groupings of States. In order to stimulate innovation and competitiveness in knowledge-based sectors in the Union, IPR enforcement must not prevent open research and knowledge sharing.
The monies generated by enforcing IPR represent an important source of outside funding for research projects and thus a driving force for innovation and development and cooperation between universities and firms. Sector-based agreements and good practice guides are important to combat IPR infringements. Remedies be put in place for platforms adversely affected by any measure taken to combat commercial infringements of IPR by operators in the sector on the basis of exchange of information.
‘Cyberlocker’ platforms are one of the main hubs for IPR infringements, from which they indirectly derive income via advertising and/or subscriptions. Some ‘cyberlocker’ platforms pay their users on the basis of the number of registered downloads of their files, which is an incitement to disseminate content that infringes IPR.
IPR infringing products not only cause the direct loss of revenue to legitimate businesses but also lead to direct and indirect job losses, to reputational damage and to increased enforcement costs whilst often having links to organised crime and posing potential health and safety risks. IPR infringements could be more easily and effectively tackled by introducing new methods of legal distribution of goods and services based on forms of lending and re-use complying with IPR.