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2008

2008 in a nutshell…

  • The EC creates Europe's first Cultural Industries Stakeholders' platform to come up with concrete recommendations to unlock the potential of Europe's cultural industries, especially SMEs. IMPALA plays key role as one of the five board members, and leader of the working group on SMEs.
  • French Presidency holds groundbreaking discussions on independence and SMEs in the cultural field, with participants from music, film, and book publishing, to produce concrete recommendations for the EC and member states.
  • European Parliament attacks the French graduated response agreement on ISP cooperation, by voting changes to the EC's Telecom Package - one of the most polemic debates the Parliament has seen. The text is now being reviewed by member states.
  • Competition Commissioner Kroes opens a consultation into the online market, including for copyrighted content, threatening further action to ensure the market is competitive.
  • Collecting societies appeal the EC's competition decision, criticizing collecting societies and CISAC.
  • Commission approves Sony's buy out of Bertelsmann's share of SonyBMG with no remedies or detailed investigation.
  • Commission adopts Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy to promote the free movement of knowledge and innovation in the single market.
  • European Court rules in favour of IMPALA that there is no presumption in favour of approving mergers (very important in regards future concentration in the music market), and asks lower court to re-assess its previous judgment annulling the Commission's first approval of the Sony-BMG merger decision.
  • The French improve their tax credit for music companies by increasing the amount of credit available to 700k euros, with a possible 1.1m euros subject to certain conditions. The costs covered now includes some staff costs. The French language component has been removed as a condition.
  • French Culture Minister confirms that the French presidency will support reduced VAT for music.
  • The Commission adopts a proposal extending copyright for performers and record companies to match the USA. It has to be approved by the Parliament and Member States. The Commission's proposal has three key features: 20% of revenues go to session performers. A “use it or lose it” provision whereby the performer could move to another label if the original label is unwilling to re-release the performance. Member states would have an option to exempt SMEs with annual turnover of up to 2m euros from paying the 20% fund.
  • The European Commission approves a proposed French tax-relief scheme whereby investors in SMEs receive relief on the French wealth tax. The reduction in tax is proportional to the investment made and can be up to 50,000€. The scheme has received the support of Commissioner Kroes and is expected to stimulate around €635million investment in SMEs. This could be a useful precedent in other countries, not just in terms of wealth tax initiatives but also to promote other SME investment tax benefits.
  • Internal Market Commissioner McCreevy opens a new investigation (but more limited than the first) into certain elements of private copying, and appoints IMPALA and other associations to a stakeholder platform to negotiate solutions.
  • EC decides to take no further action under its Recommendation on collective licensing for online exploitation of music publishing rights, saying that the initiative has already worked.
  • The European Parliament adopted a Resolution on collective cross-border online management of copyright to underline the climate of legal uncertainty created by the 2005 EC Recommendation on the issue.
  • EC launches Communication on Creative Content Online to quadruple the market by 2010, with consultation and stakeholder platforms on specific issues (DRM, multi-territorial licensing, piracy, cultural diversity), which may lead to legislative intervention by the EC.
  • EC adopts Small Business Act, which is intended to set a new framework that will put SMEs at the forefront of society, improve their access to market and access to finance, skills and innovation, reduce red tape, and mainstream SME policy principles in other policy areas.
  • EC closes investigation into Apple/iTunes investigation, with Apple agreeing to lower prices in the UK to European level.
  • UK and Japan to follow France on its ISP negotiations.
  • European Parliament adopts cultural industries report. A rushed last minute amendment unfortunately criticised remedies already negotiated in countries such as France, which suspend consumer internet access in case of copyright infringement. Otherwise the report contains many far reaching elements including recognition that: ”...concentration in the cultural sector poses risks for diversity and the supply of cultural goods to consumers” culture should be taken into account in all EU policies “in particular those relating to the internal market, competition and trade as well as research and development” “cultural products and services have special characteristics which distinguish them from other products and services, and which must be taken into account in drawing up and implementing EU policies” recognition of “special legal status and greater support for the entire cultural and creative industries, including micro businesses and SMEs as well as individual artists, are needed to help these sectors achieve their full potential and to contribute also to the Lisbon Strategy objectives”
     

 

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