The ”Gallo report” advocating stricter intellectual property enforcement was adopted last week by the legal affairs committee JURI in the European Parliament.
It is not a good report, in my opinion. The European digital rights organization EDRI called it ”far-reaching, contradictory and, at times, fundamentalist”, and pointed out that some of the views expressed in the report are almost comically absurd.
I have written an alternative resolution, based primarily on the good amendments that were tabled by Members from the Social Democrat, Liberal, and Green groups. Here is the text of the draft alternative resolution (version 0.2, with differences compared to the Gallo report adopted in JURI highlighted).
The alternative resolution attempts to find some sort of common ground, with the aim of finding a position that a majority of the Parliament might support.
It neither calls for stricter enforcement measures nor the legalization of non-commercial file sharing. Instead, it asks the Commission to collect scientific data through the Observatory, evaluate the IPRED directive, and then come back with new suggestions.
Here are some highlights from the draft alternative resolution:
- having regard to the ACTA resolution of 10 March 2010
- It is goods counterfeiting that can constitute a threat to consumer health and safety, not IPR infringements in general.
- The territoriality of copyright inhibits the creation of an inner digital market.
- There are no known connections between non-commercial file sharing and organised crime.
- Various unsubstantiated claims and calls for stricter enforcement removed.
- Does not criticise the Commission for not having made a legislative proposal before data has been collected by the Observatory and the current framework has been evaluated.
- Stresses that although both counterfeiting and file sharing are illegal, they are different things that should be handled separately.
- Asks the Commission to consider if the private copy exception could be extended to file sharing in some way, but does not demand it.
- Does not demand stricter enforcement measures, since the data has not been collected and the IPRED directive not evaluated.
- Calls on the Commission to do something about an exception for the visually impaired, since the rightsholders have been unable to sort it out on their own.
European Observatory on Intellectual Property
- Welcomes the creation of the observatory.
- Thinks the Observatory’s prime objective should be to compile scientific research regarding counterfeiting and IPR regulation.
Cultivating consumer awareness
- Notes that anti-piracy campaigns so far have been ineffective, and leaves it to the discretion of the Member States if they want to conduct them.
Promoting the internal digital market
- Cautions against non-legislative measures, as they may circumvent legal safeguards.
- Does not make a lot of statements about the impact of on-line piracy, since this is what the Observatory is supposed to investigate.
- Calls on the Commission to identify and remove obstacles to the internal European digital market.
The international dimension and impact on the internal market
- Raises the problem of customs seizures of legal generic medicines in transit to developing countries
- Reiterates the core demands from the 10 March 2010 resolution on ACTA.
If you have any comments, please feel free to post them here. Remember that the aim of the resolution is to find a common position that might get a majority in the Parliament, not to express the most radical views imaginable.
I have the impression from the discussions we have had with other MEPs that most of us agree that copyright in the digital age is a problem, but we are not yet in agreement about what we should do about it. In this situation, I think it makes sense to express this, and to call on the Commission to study the matter and come up with suggestions based on those studies.
The next step is that the resolutions will be voted in plenary. It could be as early as the week starting June 14, but hopefully it will be postponed to the session starting July 5, to give the political groups and individual Members a chance to consider the different draft resolutions.
If you agree with the alternative resolution, it is very helpful if you contact Members of the European Parliament from your country and let them know your views.
Europe needs to reflect on how to handle copyright in the digital age, and the European Parliament can take a lead role in that process. A good first step would be to establish which positions most of us can agree on, and which need to be studied and discussed further.
The draft alternative resolution is an attempt to establish such a base line.
Photo by Christian Engström, free for publication CC0.