EU digital tsar: millions wasted on anti-piracy plans

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Heavy investment in copyright enforcement hasn't quelled piracy, claims Neelie Kroes

Europe's digital tsar Neelie Kroes has said millions have been wasted trying to stem piracy online.

Speaking at the Forum D'Avignon cultural conference in Paris, Kroes said artists and the creative industries had to improve the way distribution was funded and policed, and admitted current anti-piracy measures were failing.

“Is the current copyright system the right and only tool to achieve our objectives? Not really, I'm afraid,” she said.

“We need to keep on fighting against piracy, but legal enforceability is becoming increasingly difficult; the millions of dollars invested trying to enforce copyright have not stemmed piracy.”

Citizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it

According to Kroes, the heavy-handed tactics used in recent years has led to a culture of mistrust around copyright.

“Citizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it,” she said. “Sadly, many see the current system as a tool to punish and withhold, not a tool to recognise and reward.”

Kroes called for a system that put artists in control of their work, and said a global system should be established to keep track of who owned what content, potentially making better use of cloud computing as a platform.

“ICT can help artists connect with their audience, directly and cheaply,” Kroes said. “And ICT can help in other ways too, supporting a system of recognition and reward. A global repertoire database to find out what belongs to whom."

Kroes called for "tracking technologies, to permit a totally transparent process for artists and intermediaries to find out who is looking at what artwork when and to distribute revenues accordingly”.

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