Net pirates succeed where EU fails

In a stark address to business leaders in Brussels the EC Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said that the EU needs to develop a single market for music and films and that thus far the advocates of piracy have done a better job of it.

“There is a huge Digital Single Market for audiovisual material,” Kroes said, but her problem with that is that it is run by pirates and the artists, record labels, and film studies don’t get a penny. She said the EU policies have failed and that the European online markets need to be more borderless like the internet itself.

She also asked why the US complete five times more venture capital deals than Europe considering that Europe is a bigger market. She also raised questions over the Commission’s Research & Development budget, which is lower than Google’s, and added that the digital markets in Europe are uneven, with 74 percent of Dutch using online banking compared to only 5 percent in Greece. Of course, the crisis over there may have something to do with that.

She suggested the solution lies in a new EU digital agenda where content licenses allow access to material from any of the 27 member states. This single digital market “will lead to a wealth of options for citizens” and “will strike a blow against piracy and benefit authors and artists”.

With the Lisbon Treaty fully ratified only a few short months ago this may reawaken one of the sticking points some voters had on the European Union taking over things that had previously been under national control.

The fact that it’s often easier to procure digital items from the US than from a neighbouring EU state makes this proposal potentially very beneficial to EU citizens, but it may strike a hard blow to file-sharing websites like Pirate Bay which have already seen a lot of recent trouble.