Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, gave the opening address at last week's Frankfurt Book Fair. I just came across a copy of the speech last night, and I'm surprised it didn't get more attention.
This the first time that I've heard a politician talk about digital content and not simply repeat the nonsense they were handed by Big Content. Now that was a change of pace.
In her speech, she called for:
- Applying the same tax rate for ebooks that paper books get (ebooks are taxed at a higher rate in most European countries)
- a copyright system that balances the rights of all parties (not just the major media conglomerates)
- greater support for open and common ebook standards:
Third, standards and standardisation—ensuring all parts of the machine fit together - can drive competitiveness, promote innovation, and stimulate competition. As the e-publishing sector develops, we may also have to consider how to deliver interoperability here too. That might mean, for example, that people can buy content for any device from any supplier, transfer that content between their own devices, and keep possession of it even beyond the device's lifespan. That could deliver openness, freedom and choice for the consumer - with benefits too for smaller market players like independent bookshops. Open standards already exist in this field, but take-up is still low.
It's well worth a read.