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EU digital tsar: millions wasted on anti-piracy plans


By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 21 Nov 2011 at 08:41

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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User comments

Some sense at last...?

Well it's only what many commentators have been saying for a decade, but it is encouraging to hear someone in Kroes' position saying it. Will the content industries take any notice though?

By stuarthamlin on 21 Nov 2011

At last, someone from 'government' talking some sense.

The media companies really do make rods for their own backs by practices such as unskippable junk at the front of DVD's and restricted distribution that sees some regions getting more or less on a particular DVD/set or getting similar material for wildly different prices.

By qpw3141 on 21 Nov 2011

Changing Times

I agree that it is good that at last someone from 'government' is taking this seriously and is making sense. If only the creative industries would do the same.

How much longer can the likes of (for example) HMV struggle on with retail outlets as their primary distribution method when everyone else (customers?) seem to understand that the distribution channel has changed and new thinking is required.

The cost of DVDs, CDs etc no longer have to reflect the overheads of hugely expensive high street retail premises.

Recognise that, reprice your product accordingly so that the price charged is percieved more reasonably as 'fair' and piracy will reduce (IMHO) markedly.

I agree that it will never be fully stamped out but part of the driver for its present high profile is corporate greed manifested via the price mechanism.

By jontym123 on 21 Nov 2011

Oh dear...

I see an ex-digital Tsar looking for a new gig shortly...

Upsetting the boat and telling those who fund his position they are idiots and need to get with it... How to win friends and lose your job.

I hope the industry listen, but I can see them calling for the heretic's head!

By big_D on 21 Nov 2011

I'm not so sure...

Employing "tracking technologies" sounds rather big brotherish to me. And lest you forget, this is the same Neelie Kroes who foisted the Windows Browser Choice icon on us and the behest of Opera because they managed to persuade (fool) the EU bureacrats that thare was no compettion in the browser market - that was just as new kid on the block Chrome arrived and started to take great chunks out of everybody eles's market share.

By rjp2000 on 21 Nov 2011

Who fund's his post?

"Upsetting the boat and telling those who fund his position they are idiots and need to get with it... How to win friends and lose your job."

Is this really true? Surely it is the EU who 'fund his position'? If he has an EU position it will be a lot harder to dislodge him than if he were a UK apparatchik who could be quickly and quietly sidelined at the behest of the minister responsible (even if only indirectly) for his position, on the say so of one of said ministers cronies.

By qpw3141 on 21 Nov 2011


...who the heck comes up with these titles: EU digital tsar?!! Is that her official title? Do they know even what a tsar is? Give here a proper title, this tsar rubbish belongs in the tabloids. /rant

On a more relevant note, I see that some people still don't get the new revenue models:

By mviracca on 21 Nov 2011


I could not agree more - but I have the distinct recollection that this story used "boss" rather than "tsar" this morning. Did someone actually think this was not tabloid enough?

"Tsar" is particularly ignorant for females, rather like calling them the "king" of something or other. "Tsar" was an exclusively male title. The pre-revolutionary female Russian leaders were styled "empress", but I guess that has too many syllables for tabloid hacks!

By JohnAHind on 21 Nov 2011

If - if - content providers offered films, TV and what not un DRMd to download at high definition and run on what we wanted, when we wanted it for a decent price on the day of release they'd end piracy tomorrow.

It's the scenario I always give: a young couple at home with a baby. They want to watch the latest blockbuster and they can't. It's at the cinema for £12 a ticket but they can't get a night off. DVD comes out and they can't be bothered as something else has come along.

While DRM damages the longevity of paid-for content it will fail. No one sane would trust a company that ould go bust tomorrow with hundreds of pounds of potential film and TV shows.

Ironically it is the porn industry that people should look at (ahem). Unencrypted, one time downloads when you want, how you want. While not a subscriber they've seen how the market works and are trying to meet that demand. Why can't the rest?

By bubbles16 on 21 Nov 2011

And the content too

There's also the quality of products being pushed as well. Games increasingly come with such draconian and restrictive DRM that the pirated versions look increasingly attractive.

DVDs come with all sorts of annoying logos and anti-piracy warnings that can't be skipped. These don't build brand loyalty or make people heed the piracy warnings, they just annoy them and make the pirated products look better and more attractive.

Then with music, there's the awful loudness wars. Turn music from a rich, vibrant listening experience into a wall of flat, harsh, fatiguing distortion, then wonder why the product has less value and why people don't feel it's worth paying for.

Deliberately hobbling your products, and/or making the pirated versions better than the bought versions really doesn't seem to me to be a good way of boosting sales!

By Trippynet on 22 Nov 2011

Bloated bureaucracy wastes money and achieves nothing

I'm shocked! Shocked!

By Lacrobat on 22 Nov 2011

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