[A2k] The Register: Commission to revise rules on rivals' agreements
thiru at keionline.org
Fri Nov 5 02:46:50 PDT 2010
Commission to revise rules on rivals' agreements
Uniform standards mean stronger competition, says EU body
Posted in Government, 2nd November 2010 13:00 GMT
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The European Commission will revise its rules on agreements between
competitors to help companies to agree on technical standards, it has
said. The move is designed to help encourage cross-border trade in
digital goods and services.
Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia said that an EU digital
single market could only emerge if strong competition existed."Open
networks are of little use without competitive prices, and we will
keep this under close review," he said. "Limiting the availability of
interoperability information can be used as a technical means to
stifle competition, and we will continue to carefully scrutinise
companies’ actions in this area."
The setting of standards – where even competitor companies agree to
make goods or services behave in a uniform way – is vital for the
prevention of technical stifling of competition, he said.
"It is also crucial to ensure that standard setting procedures work
well, and that access to standards is available on fair, reasonable,
and non-discriminatory terms," he said. "We are currently reviewing
our Guidelines on Horizontal Agreements ... and in particular
providing more analysis of standardisation agreements."
Almunia said that the review will take effect before the end of this
He also said that the Commission would take action on copyright to
attempt to make it easier to buy and sell copyrighted material across
the EU's borders.
"The distribution of online content across the EU is expensive,
difficult, and primitive if compared to the technology we now have,"
he said. "In particular, we need to address the persistent market
fragmentation for online rights management, which harms consumers,
right-holders and everyone else in between."
"We need to open access to content, simplify copyright clearance and
the management of cross-border licensing, make cross-border
transactions straightforward, and encourage innovative methods of
online payments," said Almunia. "Last Wednesday the Commission
announced, in our Communication about the new Single Market Act, that
we will table legislative proposals regarding copyright management.
The aim of such proposals is to improve access to content and the
transparency of rights management across the EU."
The Commission has previously identified the competing requirements of
copyright laws in the EU's 27 member countries as a barrier to cross
"There is a huge Digital Single Market for audiovisual material. The
problem is that it is illegal, and it is not monetised," said Digital
Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes earlier this year. "We have
effectively allowed illegal file-sharing to set up a single market
where our usual policy channels have failed."
"Consumers can buy CDs in every shop but are often unable to buy music
online across the EU because rights are licensed on a national basis.
No wonder the US market for online music is five times bigger than
Europe's," she said. "Creating the legal Digital Single Market will
lead to a wealth of options for citizens. It will strike a blow
against piracy and benefit authors and artists. And it will do this
without endangering the open architecture that is essential for the
internet. It is obviously common sense to fix problems like this."
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
thiru at keionline.org
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