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EU Commissioner Calls for Open Ebook Formats, Reduced VAT,

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.

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fjtorres October 17, 2011 um 5:13 pm

Hey, what d’you know?
Neelie Kroes found another american company to harass!
I was actually expecting this two years ago.
Time for Amazon to invite Apple, Microsoft, google, Boeing, and GE over for tips on how to best grease up.
And if they can get over themselves, Adobe should wrangle an invite: they’re next.

Sweetpea October 18, 2011 um 4:20 am

I personally completely agree with our Neelie. And these statements aren’t only geared towards American companies. The last one, yes, but that’s because there are no European manufacturers that made their own ebook standard/DRM (unlike Apple, Amazon and B&N).

The tax issue has nothing to do with America at all and the copyright is geared to protecting large companies all over the world and not only the US.

fjtorres October 18, 2011 um 8:16 am

I’ve repeatedly said that I fully expect the EU to establish a european DRM-scheme any day now. They even have a nice (partly) euro-owned candidate in the Marlin DRM scheme.
Any day now…

It is all part and parcel of the way the Brusselcrats deal with the outside world; promoting national champions through the smokescreen of consumer protection. Because people need to be protected from their own choices and forward thinking companies.

Its good camouflage for economic nationalism. And its been working for decades. It will continnue to work until the US starts playing by the same rules…

…which, come to think of it, is right around the corner.

Sweetpea October 18, 2011 um 8:41 am

Yes, publishers here are starting a new DRM scheme: watermarking… More and more publishers are going that way…

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