According to this study European interactive websites like video sharing sites and blogs are outgrowing those created in the US. Compared with the US, which hosts the most commonly used websites for content created by users (blogs, texts, videos, music, games and virtual objects), Europe has more contributors. For example, almost 4 in 5 Italian internet users read blogs compared to 60% in the US, 41% of Spanish users write blogs but only 26% in the US, almost 60% of Czech internet users upload photos and 48% of Polish internet users subscribe to RSS feeds, all ahead of the US. To help the emergence of European Flickrs and youtubes that turn this large European creativity into growth and jobs, the Commission’s report highlights the need for new and updated EU rules building a Single Market for content that can be made and shared online by anyone.

This study takes place in the context of the i2010 mid-term review. Its particular focus on the user perspective on the one hand and the potential for User-Created Content to support creation and innovation on the other hand has made it necessary for the European Commission to launch a prospective study on the roll-out of UCC and its economic, social, technical and legal challenges.

User Created Content as such is not a new phenomenon. Content generated by individuals or groups of individuals already exists as leaflets, brochures and other forms of paper output. Similarly, the possibilities for users to access radio and/or television services have been made possible by both technological developments and regulation. Several member states introduced community media, either with a traditional broadcasting format or by using an open/direct access model such as the "offenere Kanäle" in Germany.

The differences lies in the scale, economic potential and impact on traditional supply chains of modern user created content. The creation of new networks, in particular the introduction of the Internet, has created new opportunities for users to create, but more importantly, to distribute content. During the first development phase of the Internet, most content was still produced and distributed in line with the old, rather centralised, broadcasting model. Today's Internet contains more and more content generated by individuals or groups of individuals. Some consider this trend of user generated/created content to be one of the most essential elements of what is called the "Web 2.0". A range of new business models is being developed and tested that operates on the basis of user created content. This content includes video- or audioclips, blogs and photos. Although the fixed Internet is used as the main distribution network, creation and distribution is also expanding into wireless environments (and
some wireless environments – i.e. mobile networks - have their own specific form of user created content).

Ewout Swart

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