back to article Europe could be drowned in 'worthless pop culture' thanks to EU copyright plans

Expect more bland Europop and formulaic Hollywood blockbusters in your future if a proposal by European Commissioner Andrus Ansip are implemented, cultural industries in smaller European states say. Groups predict that European culture will look a lot less diverse if the robotic single market Kommissar succeeds in forcing pan- …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Modern European copyright arguably owes more to the French, who introduced the inalienable moral right of the author (”droit d’auteur”) to decide how their work is used; EU copyright is based on the French, rather than the utilitarian US and UK approach. The UK incorporated moral rights when it grafted EU law into the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act in 1988.

    Well if that's true, then let's see copyright terminate on the death of the author then.

    At least that would be an improvement over the insane period of the author's death plus 70 years that we currently have now.

    1. Daniel von Asmuth
      WTF?

      70 years after the author's death

      Quick: extend that to 80 years to prevent Hitler's Mein Kampf reaching Dutch and German markets next year:-(

      1. Steven Roper

        Re: 70 years after the author's death

        Nah, just be honest and make a law that states that any creative work released at or after the creation of Mickey Mouse remains in copyright until the heat death of the universe. After all, that's what these ridiculous copyright extensions are really about.

    2. PassiveSmoking

      The Steamboat Willy Epoch

      That's never going to happen.

      In fact, expect the opposite. Copyright will be extended and extended to make sure all works from Steamboat Willy onwards remain in copyright forever. It's happened before after all, multiple times.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Partially worthless"

    How can something be "partially worthless" ? It is either worthless or it is not.

    That's even worse than totally unique !

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Keven E.

      Re: "Partially worthless"

      It's only the half empty part of the glass that is perfectly flawed.

    3. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: "Partially worthless"

      "That's even worse than totally unique !"

      Bahboh, remember, you're unique, just like everybody else...

      1. Graham Marsden
        Coat

        Re: "Partially worthless"

        Brian of Nazareth: "You're all individuals!"

        Crowd: "Yes, we are all individuals!"

        Man in Crowd: "Err, I'm not..."

        - Monty Python's Life of Brian.

    4. BongoJoe

      Re: "Partially worthless"

      That's even worse than totally unique !

      Aren't MAC addresses, for example, supposed to be 'mostly unique'? After all, there have been instances of identical unique addresses found in the wild.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Partially worthless"

      @Bahboh, can you be more specific about what you mean?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

    That's the next thing the Euro Commision is going to address. Expect them to specify a standard Euro-language that everyone must speak with massive fines if you fail (and round-the-clock monitoring to make sure you keep to the rules).

    Of course the language is going to have to be a mixed hybrid of every language spoken in Euro-land.

    1. Vimes

      Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

      Of course the language is going to have to be a mixed hybrid of every language spoken in Euro-land.

      Esperanto?

      1. Midnight

        Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

        This calls for a language which doesn’t just borrow words but has on occasion pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

        (Thank you, James Nicoll)

      2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

        "Esperanto?"

        I think Klingon overtook Esperanto some years ago in terms of number of speaker.

        1. Steve Evans

          Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

          The problem with Esperanto is it has genders for tables and chairs... So the English and Hungarians immediately look at it as "stupid". The genders won't match Spanish and Italian (because even Spanish and Italian can't agree!), so that will get confusing too.

          It's not French, so the French won't touch it.

          To be honest, picking anything except English for a boundary crushing language across Europe would be insane. Half of the world speaks it either as a first or second language, and most of Europe already have more than a passing familiarity with it. The Scandinavians and Dutch speak English better than half of the UK, the Germans aren't far behind, and a recent trip to Italy had the phrase book collecting dust as almost everyone we spoke to apologised for their English, and then proceeded to converse without issue! Even waitresses spoke such good English we were able to have proper conversations and have a laugh and joke. Maybe the older generation were a little less fluent, but the youngsters were superb.

          Learning Esperanto would just limit the ability of any non-English speaking person of doing any business outside the Esperanto zone.

          1. Antikapitalista

            Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

            No; I believe that you are wrong.

            The advantage of Esperanto is that almost everyone would be put on equal footing (well, more or less so...), as there are very few native speakers of Esperanto.

            And then they would need to put more effort into thinking what they were saying.

            You have gone to great lengths writing about speaking, but I think that people in the EU need to master listening more than speaking.

            Learning a language is probably never a bad thing. Either the language is sufficiently foreign -- and then it makes you hone your grammar skills -- or it is sufficiently close to your native tongue -- and then it makes you hone your semantic skills.

        2. Alsee

          Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

          Actually Esperanto has moved into the lead. Esperanto Wikipedia is still somewhat active, but Klingon Wikipedia was closed in 2006.

          (And the humor here is that what I said above is actually true.)

      3. BongoJoe

        Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

        Cymraeg?

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

          >Cymraeg?

          That's the normal solution to EU politics - pick the option no-one wants on the basis that it will offend no-one.

      4. Oldfogey

        Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

        More people speak Klingon than Esperanto

      5. Sarah Balfour

        Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

        Desperanto - the universal language of the EU Commission

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

        No, it will be American English. And deviations from the standard line will not be tolerated. Remember, the need to speak with one voice shall be über alles!

    2. Steve Evans

      Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

      A mixed hybrid language, made up of every language spoken in Euroland...

      Hmmm...

      Oh hang on... That's pretty much the definition of English!

      Superb (As they say in France, although in this case they probably wouldn't).

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

        "Oh hang on... That's pretty much the definition of English!"

        They'll probably insist on making it the form of English we speak on the left side of the Atlantic so as not to show favoritism.

        Icon: how the Brits and Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys will react.

        1. Steve Evans

          Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

          "They'll probably insist on making it the form of English we speak on the left side of the Atlantic so as not to show favoritism."

          Not a problem. Thanks to TV imports, most native Brits can handle US English without any issue, and at the same time switch into "British" slang to be completely incomprehensible to you yanks when we want to be ;-)

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgPH0tYXJrA

          As for your "spelling", that's even easier... Just switch the browser or word processor's region to US, and it'll auto correct English into a 'merkin.

    3. Dan Paul

      Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

      They already have it. ESPERANTO. Good luck you'll need it. You already have ABBA.

      1. nijam

        Re: "People speak different languages, the group reminded Kommissar Ansip"

        > They already have it. ESPERANTO...

        No, despite claims to the contrary, Esperanto is very obviously a dialect of Spanish.

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  5. Vimes

    There is an almost certain assumption that creation of one pan-European cultural market would lead to a total disappearing of the Polish market of contents protected with copyright

    Who's making the assumption?

    And Polish film goers will lose interest in Polish films if they're available elsewhere in Europe? Really?How does that one work?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Indeed, I'd have thought a significant part of the market for Polish culture is outside Poland, given the ubiquity of the Polski Sklep.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        I was watching Top Gear dubbed into Polish at a mate's house the other day. Poles here don't have any difficulty getting Polish cultural goods under the current system. It's all licensed.

        Cyborg Ansip doesn't seem to have realised what he's stepped into.

        1. Vimes

          @Andrew Orlowski

          Poles here don't have any difficulty getting Polish cultural goods under the current system. It's all licensed.

          I've certainly had problems in the past.

          Until recently a lot of the e-book versions of Lucky Luke and other comics weren't available in the UK on Amazon despite being available for months or even years before that on their French site.

          Just because they encountered no difficulties doesn't mean that difficulties don't exist and that if they do exist that they are necessary. And even if borders are removed it will still need to be licenced.

          Personally I doubt the problems surrounding funding translation are going to cause a big impact either. If people are going to the trouble of dubbing them then it's because people want - or perhaps even need - to watch it in their own language. That need is not simply going to disappear with any licencing borders. People are not going to start learning other languages just to watch TV or films.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > And Polish film goers will lose interest in Polish films if they're available elsewhere in Europe? Really?How does that one work?

      There seemed to be a logical gap in the argument somewhere.

      It wasn't very specific about how to make a connection between a larger audience and fewer sales which was the implication of the view expressed.

      Perhaps Andrew has some further comment on this.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Exactly @skekband, for Polish people living in other countries, it is great news, they can get to see new Polish films and TV shows at the same time as their family back home.

        Or in my case, I can watch new British TV shows here in Germany, without having to wait 4 or 5 years for somebody to get around buying them up and syncing them into German.

        It will open the markets up to more competition from other countries within the EU (i.e. the opposite of what Poland said, that Polish films will have more competition from films from the rest of Europe, so it should drive the quality up.

        The other thing is, "same time" in the whole of Europe can only be in the OV (original voice), so a Spanish film launched all over Europe on Day 1 will probably be only available in Spanish at that time, so it will only be of interest to ex-pat Spanish people and the few that speak Spanish in other countries.

        Music is a different matter, but watching a foreign language film in OV without subtitles isn't going to generate much of an audience.

        For later release on DVD etc. it won't make much difference, because the dubs and subtitles are already available.

        Books are another thing. It is often hard to get new English titles over here and the translated versions can take months to appear.

        If the titles appear in original language quicker, I'm all for that.

        And I see it as positive, that it should drive the quality of local productions up.

      3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        The argument for enforcing a pan-European license is that the bigger market makes up for the lower returns from your home market. With some goods like football, this might be true. For others it isn't, for obvious reasons, mainly language. Your entire market for the Albanian equivalent of Sex Lives Of The Potato Men lives in Albania, pretty much.

        The European Commission has just spent a few years looking at this. Barnier found that territoriality would diminish cultural diversity. Kroes leaked his report, then refused to endorse it. Juncker instructed Ansip to bring this regardless.

        14 years ago a compromise was devised (see Santiago Agreement) which was a pan-European license but administered in the home territory. The EU didn't like it, and here we all are.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "And Polish film goers will lose interest in Polish films if they're available elsewhere in Europe? Really?How does that one work?"

      That was my thought too. Every print run, every pressing, every broadcast still brings in the same royalty. But now there may be less middle men if it's all one big licensing territory. Or is it the fear that they can't charge "all the market will bear" in each individual country?

    4. T. F. M. Reader

      @Vimes: "And Polish film goers will lose interest in Polish films if they're available elsewhere in Europe? Really?How does that one work?

      I suspect the perceived threat is that Polish film goers will lose interest in Polish films if Poland is swamped in cheap, unencumbered by copyrights or license fees, films from the rest of Europe. It's the usual "must protect the local producers" argument.

    5. Purple-Stater

      I can see an argument that the local (Polish, in this case) culture can be overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of cultural things from every other country in the EU. For example (totally made up numbers here) if your current radio top 40 is 50% Polish artists, then suddenly becomes only 5% Polish due to the removal of copyright-borders.

      Though I tend to think that the world improves as we decrease our cultural differences. More artistically stale certainly, but also more peaceful.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        the world improves as we decrease our cultural differences

        "More artistically stale certainly, but also more peaceful"

        (Conjures up mental image of a cow vacantly chewing grass in a field) no thanks, I'm OK with a bit of violence if it makes life more interesting.

        1. Keven E.

          Re: the world improves as we decrease our cultural differences

          There will be nothing for artists to communicate if we were all *culturally the same. There would be no reason to reflect when everything is, in essence, a mirror image. High art would be pictures of your lunch. Hmmm... that sounds familiar...

        2. Purple-Stater

          Re: the world improves as we decrease our cultural differences

          "I'm OK with a bit of violence if it makes life more interesting."

          Boredom vs War?

          I'm not a big fan of people dieing just so others aren't bored.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        @Purple-Stater I would say German radio is already probably 70+% foreign language songs. There are a lot of German bands and artists, but they often sing in English (so they can get into the international markets). What is interesting is that we get a lot of other language songs being popular over here, Eros Ramazotti was very popular over here, when I move here, even though very few people could understand Italian.

        It is the same for English music, a lot of English music gets high up in the charts, but you ask the average person about what the song is about, they have no idea, they like the melody.

        American series, like NCIS, CSI, Bones, Breaking Bad etc. get a cult following among the younger generations, but the Germans make some damned good television that is qualitative, especially from the story, better than a lot of the imported guff, but has the disadvantage of not having been made in "Hollywood", so is not as popular among the younger generation.

      3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        So you sacrifice cultural diversity for peace.

        Can you explain how this works, exactly? I've never understood it.

        1. Purple-Stater

          Re: cultural diversity for peace

          You don't understand how people argue less when there are fewer fewer things to argue about?

          In any case, my comment wasn't about sacrificing cultural diversity, it was about everybody accepting everybody else's culture's. Poles shouldn't have to go to Spain to enjoy Spanish music, the Spanish shouldn't have to go to France to enjoy French food. And people shouldn't have to get into nationalistic arguments over anything.

          But if you can figure out a way to stop people looking for even just one way to feel superior to everybody else, by all means, please do. I'm all for it.

          1. Keven E.

            Just one way?

            "But if you can figure out a way to stop people looking for even just one way to feel superior to everybody else, by all means, please do. I'm all for it."

            I'd thought (when I was younger) that forms/surveys should just stop asking people to identify/choose a "race", and it would slowly stop being a consideration. I believe it'll take something beyond that, but...

            Everything cultural has identity. People do have choices and often want to choose. Sometimes people don't want to choose or share. The mere decision of identity isn't always on the road to a "superiority complex", even if it seems to be a necessary first step.

            Artists seem to be being forced into something within the original issue here. The least of which is cultural comparison. Perhaps, specifically, loss of context control.

    6. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      And the opposite

      Looking at my "queue" on Amazon as well as my current film collection the best of Polish film happened to be made in France and in French: Three Colours, The Double Life of Veronique, Blanche, Immoral Tales, etc

      So reality and their claims do not quite match.

      1. Boork!

        Re: And the opposite

        The Double Life of Veroniqe and Three Colours White were filmed in both Poland and France.

  6. Joe Montana

    Languages

    If the content is of no interest to someone outside of the local country then it doesn't matter if it's available in those other countries, since noone will buy it anyway.

    Polish content is a niche item outside of poland for instance, but what this will do is make it easier for those people who do want niche content to get it, for instance there are many polish in the uk who would want to access polish content.

    The idea of artificially limiting distribution is ridiculous, and is just pure greed/arrogance on the part of the distributors. Modern technology makes it trivially easy to distribute content worldwide and i'm glad the EU is making a stand against artificial distribution restrictions.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Languages

      The current trading system is based on the principle that you know how best to market your stuff - who to sell to, and where. No coercion is required. Coercing people to trade with people they don't want to trade with is very risky, and Ansip doesn't really get this, yet.

      Perhaps in the future people won't remember where they're from, Europe will be one big happy country, and we will all speak the same language... and this won't be an issue.

      1. Vimes

        Re: Languages

        The current trading system is based on the principle that you know how best to market your stuff - who to sell to, and where. No coercion is required.

        I thought this was supposed the European *SINGLE* market? If I can't limit trade to people within the UK then why should it be limited within the EU?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. ssssssssssssssssssssss

    "Expect more bland Europop and formulaic Hollywood blockbusters"

    Would anyone notice a difference?

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    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  9. Gannon (J.) Dick

    A word of advise from Hollywood ...

    ... hehehe April Fools in five days :)

  10. ratfox Silver badge

    Didn't get that part either

    Do they assume that a single market will make it easier for foreign goods to swamp the local industry? And they're trying to keep a complicated system in the hope that nobody will bother to do the administrative work for Poland?

    1. Daniel von Asmuth

      Didn't get the other part either

      If the Single Market is bad for your region's culture, why would it be good for other businesses? Would our weak beer market get swamped by Polish brews? Our automobile market overrun by FIAT and VW? Our computer market added up by Apple and Intel? Our tobacco market go up in smoke?

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Didn't get the other part either

        >If the Single Market is bad for your region's culture, why would it be good for other businesses?

        Big business is all about getting a single homogeneous product out to a homogeneous market. That's why fast food doesn't do local ingredients and they certainly don't let "restaurants" make food. It's all made up and shipped out for re-heating on-site.

        Cultural differences just stand in the way of Americans selling weak beer, Italians selling shoddy engineering and Germans "selling," unified political leadership throughout Europe, Africa and Russia.

        What makes you think any of this is for the benefit of people?

  11. Radbruch1929

    Creative Poland's text seems to confuse a lot of issues

    They basically reiterate an argument from the discussions around exhaustion in the single market, but my feeling is they have it backwards.

    "Exhaustion" means that you may trade the legal copy of work that has been published by or with the consent of the creator. This applies to the whole single European market, i.e. if you as the creator produce and sell a CD in Poland, it may be sold all over Europe.

    When single market exhaustion was introduced, there was an argument that this would have required local artists to raise their prices because now they had to consider distribution over a wider territory with widely varying prices. Their license fee would therefore tend to approach a higher average. Thus local culture (with general lower prices) would have become more expensive and therefore priced out of the market altogether.

    My cursory search did not turn up any source that confirms that this ever happened. And they ignore that single market exhaustion is already there so that ship has sailed anyway.

  12. mattd73uk

    So... The Reg editorial line is in favour of geo-blocking? Didn't see that one coming.

    Obviously this comments section needs more people wasting good pixels taking the opportunity to criticise the EU, because this story mentioned the EU. It doesn't matter if your problem with the EU has nothing to do with copyright, get typing!

    But on topic, as the more sane commenters have pointed out, the Polish org is talking nonsense, and geo-blocking is absurd - allowing for price-fixing, increasing the likelihood of piracy etc etc.

    If I'm an independent Polish artist wanting to release my new single "The Reg's Ideological Opposition to the EU Has Forced It Into the Hilarious Position of Supporting Geo-blocking", the ability of Spanish, Italian, or yes, Polish people in the UK being able to buy that single only benefits me, and promotes the Polish culture that daft org claims to be protecting.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: So... The Reg editorial line is in favour of geo-blocking? Didn't see that one coming.

      Chill out, mate. It's Friday.

      C.

      (PS: We don't do 'editorial lines'. And the above article is a comment piece.)

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        Re: So... The Reg editorial line is in favour of geo-blocking? Didn't see that one coming.

        Is a comment piece like an op-ed?

        About the article, I don't think the intention of the author is to bash Europe; it is rather about protecting copyright holders, which is one of his recurrent themes.

    2. nijam

      Re: So... The Reg editorial line is in favour of geo-blocking? Didn't see that one coming.

      > The Reg editorial line is in favour of geo-blocking? Didn't see that one coming.

      I did. It's an Orlowski piece, so inevitably embodies a rather wonky view of copyright (namely that is an excellent legal framework allowing middlemen to rip-off creators and consumers alike).

  13. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Seems like a specious argument

    I can't say that a pan-European copyright regime is a good idea -- I don't know. I do think it probably favors the bland "pop" music and movies, and there may be other serious problems with this -- the devil is in the details. And it may be true that it's simply unnecessary.

    But, this argument that (for example) since Poland's products have a small share of the European market, that a Europe-wide license instead of Poland-only will magically dry up sales? Makes absolutely no sense to me. Obviously, instead of having a large share of a small market, they'll have a small share of a larger market... but I can't see how this would hurt actual sales at all. I can't see how it would affect Poles buying their own products within Poland. And, "overseas" (American term for "out of country" even though in this case not over any sea at all)? If anything, I would think "overseas" Poles being able to buy Polish media without waiting months or years (if they become available in the rest of Europe at all) would just increase them buying these items instead of pirating them.

    1. Polemicista

      Re: Seems like a specious argument

      "Overseas" just means "foreign", and isn't unique to American English - stop being pedantic.

  14. DropBear Silver badge

    Hold on...

    ...there are movies being made in Europe...?!? Who knew... (still waiting for the third piece of the Dogville "trilogy" btw.)

  15. Buster

    Missing the point.

    Film production companies rarely distribute and certainly not in all the markets (countries) in the EU. They rely on licencing the distribution rights to distributers and so have the liquidity to carry on producing films without having to wait to get all the money in. Distributers act as a sort of buffer smoothing out the risk and making sure that the folk who make the films, so many people think that they should not pay for but really, really want, keep getting made more frequently than they would if the film companies had to wait for all the dosh from the showings. The distributers take a load of risk but also add value because they know their markets and how to get the best returns for their market that often has a lot to do with just when is best time to release a film into the mix of their own local production. No blockbusters when 90% of your audience is at the beach for the month etc..

    Its analogous to other cultural production that has a pan EU appeal.

  16. Josh 14
    Trollface

    Trouble in Frog-land?

    I have to wonder how long after this hypothetically passes to law before the "Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys " (cough, cough, French...) get up in arms defending the sanctity of the language and try to ban all content that is not written, recorded, filmed, or otherwise somehow available in their oh so special language, like they seem to be doing over book sellers currently.

    Err, not holy, not noble history (since they so proudly executed the nobility!)... WTF do they defend the language so adamantly for? And French Canadians too! An odd bunch, the lot of 'em!

  17. earl grey Silver badge
    Trollface

    here's our new agreement

    Pray I don't alter it any further.

  18. Catweazle666

    No surprise there

    "this will rob Europe of its cultural diversity and benefit the lowest common denominator."

    Which is exactly what the Eurofascist kleptocrats intend it to do, of course.

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