Christian Engström, Pirat

29 januari 2010

More fun from EU’s new IP Observatory — and not

Filed under: English,informationspolitik,IP Observatory — Christian Engström @ 17:59

Educating the young generation

More anti-file-sharing propaganda is one of the concrete proposals from the EU Commission in its initiative to set up an “IP Observatory”.

Last week, I took part when the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee JURI discussed the IP Observatory. It is supposed to combat all kinds of intellectual property violations, from commercial goods counterfeiting to illegal downloads from the Internet.

The IP Observatory has been heavily criticized by activist organizations like La Quadrature du Net. Basically, the Commission wants to set up an institution to hunt Internet file sharers, under the pretext of combating commercial goods counterfeiting.

The JURI committee is involved because we are to give an opinion on the IP Observatory. It is an initiative report, which means that we (the European Parliament) tell the Commission what we think they should do. It is a response to a communication from the Commission, where they told us that they had had this idea about an IP Observatory, and wanted to know what we though about it.

After the report has passed through the JURI committee it will be voted in plenary by the full European Parliament. The timetable is not quite set yet, but possibly during the session in April, possibly later.

Just like La Quadrature, I am highly critical of the proposal, as it

  • deliberately confuses commercial counterfeiting with file sharing,
  • calls for three-strikes legislation against Internet users,
  • recommends money to be spent on propaganda campaigns against file sharing,
  • encourages the Commission to conclude the controversial ACTA agreement, and
  • takes no notice of the fact excessive enforcement measures on the net can come into conflict with other interests, including our fundamental rights.

The IP Observatory proposal from the Commission follows the classical pattern. When they are arguing for this new institution, the Commission talks almost exclusively about commercial goods counterfeiting. But if the institution is ever created, we can be sure that it will spend most of its time on trying to fight non-commercial file sharing.

In the JURI committee in the Parliament, Marielle Gallo (EPP, France) is the rapporteur. This means that she is responsible for drafting the report where the committee expresses its opinion. The rapporteur plays an important role in the process of anything going through the European Parliament.

When she presented her draft report to the committee, she followed the same line as the Commission, and made no distinction between goods counterfeiting and file sharing. For example, she stressed the argument that piracy may put consumers at risk and pose health hazards. This is a perfectly legitimate concern when it comes to counterfeit pharmaceuticals sold on the net, and it is one of the reasons why we all want to combat that phenomenon.

But nobody in his right mind would claim that young people downloading films and music is a health hazard. Even i you think that most of what kids watch and listen to nowadays is rubbish, at least it isn’t that bad.

If the discussion is to be meaningful, we must try to keep it at least a little bit legally stringent. Commercial counterfeiting and file sharing are two different things.

“Information campaigns about the importance of copyright” would be one of the tasks of the IP Observatory.

This is a complete waste of money, and we all know it. The film- and record companies, sometimes together with various authorities and helped by public funding, have spent millions and millions on “information campaigns” for at least twenty years. During the same time, file sharing continued to grow exponentially.

Let us establish once and for all:

Anti-file-sharing propaganda does not work.

And how could it? The target audience for these “information” campaigns is usually the young generation, perhaps defined as those between 12 and 30. But they already have a far better understanding of the net and its possibilities than anybody who works with designing “information” at either the Commission or film- and record companies. They are the first digital natives, and no amount of propaganda or ”awareness campaigns” are going to change that.

Instead of suddenly changing their habits of a lifetime, as the Commission seems to think young people would do, they are simply laughing at the propaganda. The net is full of parodies and remixes of previous ”information” campaigns. And now the Commission wants to spend more of our tax money on making more of the same.

We may get a few laughs for our money, but other than that it seems utterly pointless to me.

Of course the lobbyists from the film- and record companies know this is ineffective. They are more interested in the other parts of the proposal: the recommendation to introduce new three-strikes legislation to shut people off the net, and to conclude the ACTA negotiations with the US.

This is the sharp end of the proposal. Three-strikes legislation is being introduced in various member states at this very moment. And although the ACTA negotiations are being carried out in secret, without even the European Parliament being informed by the Commission and the Council, we know from what has been leaked that the agreement is full of new repressive legislation against file sharers.

If the ACTA agreement goes through, there would have to be some body to oversee all this new activity directed against file sharers. The IP Observatory, if one is created along the lines that the Commission wants, would fit like a glove to fulfill this role. This is hardly a coincidence.

This is where it stops being funny. I wouldn’t steal a baby, or nuke a panda bear, or set fire to a naval dockyard, but I don’t mind watching funny clips on YouTube reminding me not to.

But I do mind having my fundamental rights, including my right to privacy and my right to receive and impart information without interference by public authority, reduced by, or ”balanced” against, the commercial interests of the entertainment industry of the previous century.

Fighting goods counterfeiting is fine. Fighting the future is not. Especially not at the price of our fundamental rights.


Previous posts on the IP Observatory:

IP Observatory in JURI

Andra bloggar om: , , ,

12 kommentarer

  1. Samlingssida för ärendet

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 29 januari 2010 @ 20:12

  2. Legislative dossier on the IP observatory.

    From the draft report:

    A. whereas violations of intellectual property rights (IPR), defined as any violation of any IPR, such as copyright, trade marks, designs or patents, constitute a genuine threat not only to consumer health and safety but also to our economies and societies,

    As said in the blog post, this is ridiculously overreaching. ”Any violation” is a threat. Come on.

    C. whereas data concerning the scale of IPR infringements are inconsistent, incomplete, insufficient and dispersed,

    Well, it may be so. But if you scale down IPR maybe there can be more effort to block people who may cause serious harm.

    E. whereas the violation of IPR is a problem across the board which affects all sectors of industry and particularly the creative and innovative industries,

    There is simply no basis to make such a claim. The Parliament should be very careful here.

    F. whereas the phenomenon of on-line piracy has assumed very alarming proportions, particularly for the creative content industries, and whereas the existing legal framework has proven incapable of effectively protecting rights-holders on the Internet and the balance between all the interests at stake, including those of consumers,

    This is also false. It’s only a a few sectors of the creative content industry that are alarmed, CD and DVD-producers. The other parts of the industry seems not to be that bothered by this.

    It is correct though that current legislation has failed to strike a correct balance for the interest of privacy.

    I. whereas, in the case of patents, their protection is crucial in order to efficiently fight patent violations; whereas the question of the unified patent system at the EU level has yet to be resolved,

    No, no, no. Think about the work being done to handle patents. Get rid of all this and focus on innovation instead.

    6. Does not share the Commission view that the principal body of laws with respect to IPR enforcement is already in place; points out in this respect that negotiations on the directive on criminal sanctions have not been successfully concluded and calls on the Commission to put forward a new proposal on criminal sanctions under the Treaty of Lisbon;

    IPRED2 once again, huh? The Parliament should not encourage the Commission to move forward on IPRED2.

    16. Agrees with the Commission that additional non-legislative measures are useful to improve the application of IPR, particularly measures arising from in-depth dialogue among stakeholders;

    Guess which stakeholder is not going to be invited: the people.

    17. Regrets that the Commission has not mentioned or discussed the delicate problem of on-line piracy, which constitutes a major aspect of this worldwide phenomenon in the age of digitisation of our societies, particularly the issue of the balance between free access to the Internet and the measures to be taken to combat this scourge effectively; urges the Commission to broach this problem in its IPR strategy;

    File sharing is not a scourge. The Parliament should not label it as such. Free access to the Internet has already been underlined by the Parliament in the telecoms package. This text does not reflect this at all.

    19. Stresses that support for and development of the provision of a diversified, attractive, high-profile, legal range of goods and services for consumers may help to tackle the phenomenon, but recognises that this is not sufficient: piracy is today the biggest obstacle to the development of legal online offers and the EU runs the risk of condemning to failure efforts to develop the legitimate online market if it does not recognise that fact and make urgent proposals to address it;

    This is not true. Instead, the EU’s failure to bring the collecting societies to issue European licenses I would say is the most important obstacle. In the United States, the iTunes store is the #1 seller of music, and has been able to reach this position right beside a vibrant personal file sharing movement.

    In the United States, iTunes store is also offering movies and tv-shows. It should not come to any surprise that such an offering is not made here. That’s not due to piracy, its due to the need for separate national licenses. (This is also mentioned in sect 21.)

    20. Stresses that all parties concerned, including Internet service providers, must join in the dialogue with stakeholders in order to find the appropriate solutions in the course of 2010; calls on the Commission, failing this, to submit a legislative proposal or to amend existing legislation, particularly Directive 2004/48/EC, so as to upgrade the Community legal framework in this field on the basis of national experiences;

    Internet services providers should not concern themselves with the content of the transmissions their users make.

    I can’t stomach to read any further. However, it is clear that the ONLY concern in this report is the file sharing issue. The counterfeiting and real piracy is only thin wrapping.

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 29 januari 2010 @ 21:06

  3. I would rather see a rewrite of the entire report here, which focuses on the very real and serious problems with counterfeiting and piracy. However, if this thing moves, perhaps it would be a good thing to try to attach to it the language from the telecoms package, but as a restriction on the Commission.

    Any proposal from the commission on measures taken by the Union regarding end-users’ access to or use of services and applications through electronic communications networks shall respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and general principles of Community law.

    Any of these measures regarding end-users’ access to or use of services and applications through electronic communications networks liable to restrict those fundamental rights or freedoms may only be imposed if they are appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society, and their implementation shall be subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and general principles of Community law, including effective judicial protection and due process. Accordingly, these measures may only be taken with due respect for the principle of presumption of innocence and the right to privacy. A prior fair and impartial procedure shall be guaranteed, including the right to be heard of the person or persons concerned, subject to the need for appropriate conditions and procedural arrangements in duly substantiated cases of urgency in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms . The right to an effective and timely judicial review shall be guaranteed.

    If the Parliament adopted it once, it can adopt it again.

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 29 januari 2010 @ 21:16

  4. Um, there’s a detail that I find a bit confusing. You’re talking about a proposal from the Commission, right? And you say that the proposal encourages the Commission to conclude ACTA. So the Commission encourages itself to continue doing what it’s already doing? I’m not really surprised that they’re cheering themselves on, but I didn’t think they would do it in official documents.

    Kommentar av Björn Persson — 29 januari 2010 @ 22:00

  5. I can’t believe my mep elect keeps me posted on the work he does. Oh wait I can. Best vote ever!

    Kommentar av Johan — 29 januari 2010 @ 23:48

  6. wonderful, how many (bought) suppers did it take to get someone important enough in JURI or the commission to get this piece of tripe doing the rounds in the EUP?

    Kommentar av Manen — 30 januari 2010 @ 0:54

  7. Also: Agrees with Johan, even though i did not vote for you Christian(voted for Andersdotter) 😉

    Kommentar av Manen — 30 januari 2010 @ 0:55

  8. Björn Persson wrote:

    You’re talking about a proposal from the Commission, right? And you say that the proposal encourages the Commission to conclude ACTA.

    I don’t express myself as perfectly as I would want to.

    The Commission has proposed the creation of an IP Observatory in a communication to the parliament.

    The JURI committee of the parliament is considering a proposal for an initiative report that encourages the Commission to conclude ACTA, as part of its response to the Commission’s communication on the IP Observatory.

    Because I write badly it wasn’t clear who was proposing what to whom. 🙂

    Kommentar av Christian Engström — 30 januari 2010 @ 0:59

  9. Please Christian, use the word communication. They are confusing commercial counterfeiting with communication. If you start to use that word when ever you have the chance you will have a lot more people stop and think about it. And when they do, they will have much easier to understand the issue at its core and see that it actually is impossible to stop people communicating whatever information to each other in a non commercial manner without making private communication forbidden, they will also then automaticly see that it is a whole different issue as soon it boecomes commercial.

    Kommentar av steelneck — 30 januari 2010 @ 3:57

  10. Bra jobbat!

    Kommentar av Adam — 31 januari 2010 @ 4:33

  11. Yeah
    I watched that film. So great . Try !

    Kommentar av Printed koozies — 1 februari 2010 @ 2:29

  12. Interesting result from file sharing law suit in Australia.

    ”In a definitive defeat for film studios—and in a first case of its kind worldwide—Australia’s Federal Court has ruled that ISPs have no obligation to act on copyright infringement notices or to disconnect subscribers after receiving multiple letters. If copyright holders want justice for illegal file-sharing, they need to start by targeting the right people: those who committed the infringement.”

    Kommentar av Peter — 6 februari 2010 @ 21:25

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