The Year Ahead for Technology Law in Europe

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2015 was a big year for technology law in Europe, with Safe Harbor slashed and the Single Digital Market high on Brussels’ agenda. But what do the continent’s lawyers make of the year ahead for entrepreneurialism? Red Herring spoke to three of the best.

From Spain: “It’s time to create a true single market”

– Leandro Nuñez, partner at Audens, Madrid

“Whereas the reform of the European data protection framework is about to be adopted, it is time to address questions such as creating a real single market for e-commerce and digital contents or enhancing competitiveness of European start-ups in the online world. A more friendly and progressive tax and social security regime for enterprises in the start-up or growth phase is a constant request in Spain and in many other countries: that should be tackled in a harmonised way.

“Steps like this, coupled with creating efficient dispute resolution systems between online marketers and consumers, and eliminating unnecessary barriers to intraCommunity e-commerce, would help make Europe react and jump again on the technological bandwagon.”

From Sweden: “Crowdfunding law has been left ambiguous”

– Jim Runsten, founder and CEO, Synch, Stockholm

“During last year, the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (SFSA) was mandated to review the emerging crowdfunding scene in Sweden. The report from this review was published in December 2015. In the report, the SFSA raised concerns regarding the existing legal framework for, or rather the lack of consumer protection rules, in equity crowdfunding of Swedish private limited liability companies, which are subject to restrictions on the offering of shares to the public.

“Before the report, industry consensus had been that the offer structures applied by Swedish platforms would not contravene these restrictions or in any other way be in violation with consumer law. The concerns, vaguely motivated, by the SFSA has left the industry in an ambiguous situation, and it would be very appreciated if the legislator clarified the legal prerequisites for the emerging Swedish crowdfunding industry.”

From the U.K.: “The Digital Single Market will help clarify copyright (a bit)”

– Mark Owen, Partner, Taylor Wessing, London

“It is impossible to create a ‘perfect’ copyright system because what is good for one part of the ecosystem is bad for another. However, you can at least have laws which are clear and predictable and help new services while not being unfair to rights-owners.  Lack of legal clarity can have a far bigger chilling effect than unhelpful laws.  While the E.U.’s proposal for a Digital Single Market won’t turn out to be as ambitious as many want, it can at least clear some things up.

“In a trading bloc comprising 28 sovereign states, more clarity is needed on which country’s laws apply to many forms of online service, is it where the site is based, which territories it targets or simply everywhere? Second, the E.U. won’t mirror the U.S.’s approach to fair use any time soon but it can do more to make its equivalent system of exceptions work better for everyone by providing more detail of the principles which govern them, rather than leaving it all to the grindingly slow process of the European Court.  

“And finally, the E.U. should then leave well alone for a period.  Copyright law has been undergoing a permanent revolution for years now with little to show for it and politicians can more usefully focus elsewhere for a while.”