The European Commission's digital champion Neelie Kroes has criticised attempts by governments across the European Union to stop online piracy as a waste of money that have turned consumers against copyright protection.
Speaking in Paris, Kroes said that while there was a need to fight online piracy, new laws brought forward, such as the Digital Economy Act (DEA) in the UK, had cost millions to create and implement but were having little impact.
"Is the current copyright system the right and only tool to achieve our objectives? Not really, I'm afraid," she said at the Forum D'Avignon conference on Saturday.
"We need to keep on fighting against piracy but legal enforceability is becoming increasingly difficult. The millions of dollars invested trying to enforce copyright have not stemmed piracy."
Kroes added that the measures introduced had also turned populations against copyright systems by making new laws too authoritarian.
"Citizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it. Sadly, many see the current system as a tool to punish and withhold, not a tool to recognise and reward," she said.
Instead, Kroes said more needed to be done to create a flexible copyright system that took advantage of new forms of technology, in particular cloud computing.
"It [cloud computing] presents a new way of purchasing, delivering and consuming cultural works – music, books, films – which will certainly raise new questions about how licensing should function in an optimal way," she said.
"We should make it as easy as possible to license, not obstruct that process while making sure that the system efficiently secures the interests of artists themselves."
In the UK, content owners have started to request that internet service providers (ISPs) such as BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk block access to alleged file-sharing sites such as Newzbin 2 and The Pirate Bay under the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act.
This approach has made large elements of the DEA, which was introduced to stop copyright infringement, irrelevant. The government confirmed earlier this year it had dropped web blocking elements from the legislation.
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