Cultural diversity as a guiding policy principle in EU action in the field of music?

In the field of music, the question of protecting and facilitating cultural diversity has not seen much public debate. Music has been largely considered a nationally bound cultural matter and has been generally connected to questions about linguistic diversity and minorities. More as an afterthought rather than a main concern, policy-makers in the EU 'arrived' at the field of music at a point where regulatory intervention became necessary. This coincided with, or was given rise by, end-users', that is the public's, innovative and law-challenging behaviours online, characterised by expectations of free content, its exchange with other users and re-usage of content for non-professional, non-commercial purposes.

The EU entered the field of music and the governance of what became known as digital rights management (DRM) through its Copyright Directive (European Parliament and Council, 2001b). DRM is a strategic approach to digital content that aimed to create a distinct set of rules about its use, some of which come into conflict with hitherto existing practices, such as the reproduction of music, that is its 'copy' and re-usage in other combinations of musical collections or in mobile forms. As in previous - not very distant - eras, the reproduction of audio content for private use was not a criminal act: the purchase of a copy meant ownership and use according to need, for unlimited time and as long as the mechanical physical properties allowed (e.g. vinyl, cassette).

Currently digital production and reproduction are brought under the special label of DRM, which controls the usage of 'copies', even after consumers have purchased them. New technologies impose several restrictions on the reproduction of material for private use. Hence the 'copy' is now 'leased' when owned. At the same time, Internet usage has been historically and culturally associated with the expectation of free information and free content, at least free at the point of access. This cultural change in the consumption of digital content has brought about implications for the consumption of content in the 'hard' copy, that is in the form of CDs. The ways in which end-users and music listeners access music and make purchasing decisions have become more complex and take into account, for example, depending on content availability on the Internet, word of mouth and other sources of information.

In recent years, the new conditions of economic policy, imposed as a preferred response to the global economic crisis, have brought down the economies and cycles of consumption and production. Purchasing power has been hampered. This has affected domestic music markets, perhaps differently across Europe, and has left its mark on the creative industries. In smaller countries, subsidies for works and the shrinkage of public service media and their budgets mean that sources of funding and the absorption of newcomers as well as innovative culture-making are severely limited.

Two issues are of importance here: how will users and, perhaps more precisely, citizens exercise their cultural rights and access a culturally diverse pool of content, while being able and permitted to make their own culture through the practice of remixing content on the basis of fair use? On the other hand, how will authors be recognised for their creative process and remunerated adequately, so that further culture-making is possible?

 
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