EU looks to micro-licensing for user generated content issues

Leaked document shows paucity of ideas say digital rights activists

European Union lawmakers believe that micro-licensing could solve copyright problems related to user generated content (UGC), according to a European Commission document leaked on Monday.

The document, which pre-dates the latest public consultation on EU copyright reform, takes the view that although there are problems with UCG, "legal certainty" may be provided through micro-licences.

UGC is defined as content where a pre-existing work is taken by a user as a starting point for his or her expression, it excludes the case of mere upload of pre-existing content. "There remain technological obstacles to the ability of UCG generators to identify themselves and reap economic reward for their work," says the document.

However some digital rights activists say the Commission has missed the point. "Users who are generating content are in general not worried about getting paid. They worried about getting sued for using the pre-existing work," said Caroline de Cock, coordinator of Copyright4creativity.

"The Commission hasn't looked at fair use. It is very much a publisher's view and doesn't reflect at all most users. Copyright is important, as is fair remuneration. But preserving the Internet as an ecosystem that has delivered tremendous benefits to our society and economy in ways that cannot be summarized by simple metaphors, should be equally part of the policy goal of any copyright review. And no, it's not all about the money," she added.

The Commission is currently working on plans to overhaul the EU's copyright system and will take into account responses from a public consultation that closed last month. The document which was leaked on the Statewatch website, gives an insight into the views of the Commission before the public feedback has been incorporated.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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