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Europe considers 'digital copyright symbol'

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The copyright management idea for the 21st century proposed by the European Publishers Council (EPC) is being taken forward by the European Commission as one of seven “Big Ideas” sought as part of its Digital Agenda strategy.

EPC represents the owners and CEOs of leading newspaper, magazine, book, online and database publishers in Europe. Its “Big Idea” is called “The answer to the machine is in the machine.” This idea centres on the need for the management of modern day copyright on the internet to be machine-mediated and for a human and machine-readable “digital copyright symbol” that will link users to human and machine-readable copyright statements, licences, e-commerce engines and other information on re-use of content to be designed and used as widely as the © has been since the early 1900s.

This idea follows on from the publishers’ ongoing assertion that copyright law is fit for purpose but the mechanisms for managing and communicating copyright online need to be updated.

'In the internet age we need to be able to identify the content being used and who controls the rights in it; we need to be able to identify the user and the usage; we need to be able to read any permissions information; we need to be able automatically to link these various entities together to complete a transaction,' said EPC executive director Angela Mills Wade. 'A digital copyright symbol would be a gateway and marker for any person and any machine for all this essential information.  The digital copyright symbol would help copyright, that has been the engine of creativity for the past 200 years, continue to power the digital economy in the 21st century and beyond.'

The delivery of this project would bring together a diverse range of stakeholders from every part of the digital economy in a collaborative effort to build an open, standards-based infrastructure with the lowest possible barriers to entry, says EPC.