Speech by Šarūnas Birutis, Minister of Culture, at the European Parliament, Legal Affairs Committee

09 July 2013, Last updated at, 14:21 EEST
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Šarūnas Birutis | author: European Parliament

Dear Mr. Chair, Committee members, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank you for this opportunity to present the main priorities and initiatives of the Lithuanian EU Council Presidency in the field of copyright. Because of the duties assigned me I am responsible for policy on culture, audiovisual matters and copyright and therefore will be happy to answer your questions relating to those areas.

Having in mind the huge importance of the role of the European Parliament, representing the interests of 500 million European Union citizens, in today’s decision making process, we will seek constructive, productive and mutually beneficial cooperation with the European Parliament during our Presidency.

In beginning our work we would like to thank our Irish colleagues for the significant progress made on questions relating to the European agenda. One of these questions is the proposal for the Directive on collective management of copyright and licensing of rights in musical works for online use. We consider this question to be one of the main priorities in our Presidency's agenda. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that last week Lithuania succeeded in getting approval for the mandate of the Council giving us the opportunity to discuss the document in the first informal trilogue with the European Parliament. I hope that you, dear members of the Legal Affairs Committee, will also today support the position to begin discussions on the Directive with the Council and as a result open the way to our working together towards a common purpose.

We support the EU initiative to foster cultural content in the digital single market and to harmonize the work of the collective rights management organizations across the EU. It is Lithuania's opinion that the provisions of the project for the above-mentioned Directive are hugely significant in implementing strategic EU aims. Adoption of this Directive will be the first important step in ensuring more favourable conditions for copyright licensing agreements in the single market. However, it is clear that it is of vital importance to take even further steps on an EU level, in seeking to bring copyright regulations in line with the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. That has to be resolved through balanced proposals which would allow business, authors and their copyright holders, as well as consumers to benefit. Lately several political debates on these issues have been organised in the Council at the highest level. We believe that the European Commission will evaluate them in an appropriate manner and will begin to work actively in seeking to provide the necessary draft legislation.

Acknowledging the importance of international law provisions for copyright protection, we will also focus our attention on coordination in the field of copyright in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). On 28 June this year WIPO organised a diplomatic conference in Marrakesh which adopted the international Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled. This Treaty will pave the way for persons with disabilities to participate actively in society and to use published works for educational, training and research purposes. During Lithuania's presidency we will promote the ratification process among EU and Member States, in seeking to ensure the harmonized implementation of the provisions of the Treaty.

As regards the field of copyright modernization, we intend to encourage further discussions on the promotion of creative content in the Digital Single Market, as well as the recommendations of the Commission's designated representative Mr. António Vitorino on private copying and reprography levies. In order to meet the challenges of the digital age it is essential to harmonize the interests of copyright holders and copyright users. Therefore the copyright modernization process should not only ensure the interests of society in exploiting all of the opportunities presented by modern technology but also the rights of copyright holders in the effective protection of copyright and the possibility to receive a fair remuneration which would promote creativity and the development of the creative industries.

Using this opportunity I would like to draw your attention to our cultural programme in different countries, where we will seek to present the most talented Lithuanian artists and to emphasize the role of European culture in Lithuania, our country's cultural identity and its impact on Europe and the world. Therefore I also invite you, dear Members of the European Parliament, to enjoy the performances and creative works of our country's prominent artists over the course of the next half-year.

I look forward to our successful and, most importantly, productive cooperation in the future and would like to thank you for your attention. And now, Mr. Chair, I will be happy to answer any questions the Committee members may have.

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