EU Internet chief regrets lack of Netflix-type sites

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The Independent Tech

Europe is falling behind the United States in online entertainment services such as the popular US on-demand film website Netflix due to stringent copyright rules, the EU's Internet chief said Tuesday.

Neelie Kroes, the European Union's digital agenda commissioner, said current rules mean that the music and video industry in the 27-nation bloc is fragmented with no pan-European version of Netflix.

"In short, while US companies compete to provide attractive online content experience to millions of consumers, Europe can boast several regional players at best. This has to change," Kroes told the World Copyright Summit.

The European Commission says there are four times more music downloads in the United States than in Europe because of barriers and the lack of websites offering content legally.

The copyright system in the EU works on a national basis even though the bloc boasts a single market of half a billion people.

"We therefore need a copyright system which boosts our creative industries instead of holding them back. We need a copyright system fit for the digital era," Kroes said.

European internal market commissioner Michel Barnier announced last month plans to develop a system of multinational copyright licenses that would be valid in several nations.

Kroes pointed to the success of Netflix, which allows customers to order films and TV shows on demand, and lamented that European websites such as Sweden's Spotify are still unable to offer an EU-wide service.

"Netflix is the largest single source of Internet traffic in North America. But we have no pan-European equivalent," she said.