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Therese Comodini Cachia on a coherent EU policy for cultural and creative industries

Cultural and creative industries (CCIs) operate in a constantly evolving environment dominated by the development and use of digital information and communications technology on a global scale. They are based on and promote individual creativity, cultural value, skills and talent with the potential to create wealth and jobs through generating value from intellectual property.

With a turnover of EUR 535.9 billion and creating 7.1 million jobs, CCIs are essential to the stability and long-term competitiveness of the European economy. The formulation of a legal definition of ‘cultural and creative industries’ across Europe should take into account the new cultural and creative trends existing in today’s society and the ongoing changes and opportunities that digital technology may continue to provide, and that any such definition should refer to works, including goods and services, which are the product of artistic, cultural or creative processes and which are eligible for protection as intellectual property rights, without restricting the processes through which such works are created or produced.

The protection of right holders within the legislative frameworks of copyright and intellectual property is necessary in a manner that recognises values and stimulates innovation, creativity, investment and the production of content, whilst being adaptable to continuous technological developments and future digital platforms.

Culture should not be considered by the EU only from an internal market, competition or trade policy point of view, but should also become an element of Europe’s cooperation and development policy, taking into account the specific characteristics of the EU’s cultural spectrum.

Digital environment offers new opportunities for the creation and production of cultural and creative works, and for their distribution, exploitation and accessibility to a wider public, independently of physical and geographical constraints, at times at a lower cost and with lower barriers to entry. In an increasingly connected and digitised forum, authors and creators with limited resources might be financially disadvantaged when operating in a larger competitive area.

CCIs predominantly consist of a myriad of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and freelancers, with limited access to infrastructures, resources and funding and with limited bargaining power vis-à-vis online digital outlets and other market dominant intermediaries, as is particularly the case with artists and creators from outside mainstream cultural and linguistic areas.

Continuous digital innovation challenges the cultural and creative industries to rethink and reshape their business models. In most current business models the economic value of content, which needs to be redefined, occurs at various points of the value chain, but this may be displaced towards the end of the value chain thereby adding complexity to the system through which the creative community draws value from content, including a fair remuneration for authors and creators. Creative community is facing losses resulting also from copyright infringements such as piracy, as well as from difficulties arising from a constantly changing online environment and challenges to existing business models.

Establishment of any legal framework defining the digitalisation of cultural and creative industries should take place after a broad consultation of all the actors involved in the value chain. Digital platforms are a means of providing wider access to cultural and creative works and that consideration must be given to how this process can function with more legal certainty and respect for right holders. Adequate and effective protection of copyright and related rights is essential to ensure that creators are fairly remunerated.