EU Parliament calls for pan-EU copyright law
Current law 'not effective'
The European Commission should create a directly enforceable EU-wide copyright law that could be used to bring copyright infringers to book, the European Parliament has said. Current law is not closely harmonised enough, it said.
The Parliament has adopted a report from a French MEP which examined the state of intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement and has recommended the creation of a new European copyright law to help reduce infringement.
"[The Parliament] is of the opinion that the possibility of proceeding against infringers of intellectual property rights should be created in the European legal framework," it said. The report calls on the Commission to conduct "an assessment of the ways to strengthen and upgrade the legal framework with respect to the Internet".
The report, by Marielle Gallo, asks the Commission to review the impact of 2004's Directive on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights, and to propose amendments to it which would strengthen EU powers to tackle infringement.
It also said that existing legal regimes were not up to the job of punishing or discouraging infringements.
"[The Parliament] does not share the Commission’s certitude that the current civil enforcement framework in the EU is effective and harmonised to the extent necessary for the proper functioning of the internal market," it said.
The report was adopted by the Parliament today by a vote of 328 to 245.
European countries, including France and the UK, are considering or have recently passed laws that deal directly with the problem of copyright infringement and the internet. The Commission is negotiating on the EU's behalf with a selection of countries on a new international treaty on copyright laws, the Anti Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA).
The Parliament's report said that one major potential solution to online piracy of copyrighted content was the creation of better legitimate content markets.
"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 of online infringement," it said. "In this respect that the lack of a functioning internal European digital market constitutes an important obstacle to the development of legal online offers and that 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.
"[The Commission should] propose a comprehensive strategy on IPRs which will remove obstacles to creating a single market in the online environment and adapt the European legislative framework in the field of IPRs to current trends in society as well as to technical developments," it said.
The report said that "multi-territory licences" would help. Along with harmonised legislation, those licences would "complement this existing growth in services which are legal and which meet consumer demand for easier ubiquitous, instant and customised access to content".
The European Commission has itself identified the differences in national copyright regimes as a barrier to the creation of working international markets for copyrighted material. Digital Agenda Commissioner said earlier this year that pirates had managed to do what legitimate business never had – establish an EU single market for cultural material.
"There is a huge Digital Single Market for audiovisual material. The problem is that it's illegal, and it's not monetized," she said. "We have effectively allowed illegal file-sharing to set up a single market where our usual policy channels have failed."
Like the Parliament's report, Kroes advocated the creation of a 'multi-territorial' licence for material. "Creating the legal Digital Single Market will lead to a wealth of options for citizens. It will strike a blow against piracy and benefit authors and artists," she said. "And it will do this without endangering the open architecture that is essential for the internet. It is obviously common sense to fix problems like this."
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May be doomed
The idea of a single , Europe wide, legal digital marketplace is good, however it must meet certain criteria if it to succeed...
Download to own, without any restrictions or DRM
A fair price, much lower than the price of a physical DVD or CD.
The principle of presumed innocence must be rigorously applied in any claim of copyright infringement.
While copyright terms are being harmonised, a significant reduction in the length of copyright is needed.
The benefit must go to authors and artists directly, not management companies
The downloading is theft disconnect
Maybe slightly off topic, but I have always hated the idea that rights holders give that if you download some of their content from unofficial sources it is the same as if you had 'walked into a music store picked up some music CD's and left without paying'. Some even show this in video form to try and lick the two.
I have always disagreed with this. I always thought a closer analogy would be if music shop had for some reason left a box of CD sitting on the street. Or even closer someone had made multiple illegal copies of a CD and for whatever reason, had left a box of them on the street. Then passers by had taken CD's out of the box.
Copyright crime should be prosecuted in the same way as the example above would be, with only the person put the illegal copies of the CD's in the public domain or the shop who left the CD on the street, being punished.
The right holders delusional statements like that at the start of my post and their fanatical attempts to get the law changed (no matter how many intrinsic freedoms are suppressed to do it), to protect a business mode that is out date. Is why they get such little support from the public.
Oh and sites streaming video, etc are that same a pirate radio station broadcasting music they have not paid for. Normally they are punished, but not all the people who listened on their radio's.
When will they understand?
I am amazed at how slowly they are coming to terms with what they need to do, I suppose the EU itself, to be fair, doesn't need to do (and shouldn't actively be doing) anything.
It's down to the rights' holders to mimic an extremely successful model - offer everything in one place. The success of torrents is built around the fact that you can get extremely good quality stuff in the same place at the click of a few buttons. One goes to one's chosen site, has a quick browse, decides on getting the latest album by $Manufactured_artist and the latest episode of $TV_show and the back catalogue of Red Dwarf. A few clicks later and it's all on its way. Why can't the rights' holders come up with the same type of site on a pay-to-join-all-you-can-eat basis?
I'm a freetard not because I object to paying but because I object to current pricing levels and the slowness at which things become available to me. When the appropriate system is offered to me that puts me on the right side of the law and doesn't give me a walletectomy for the pleasure, I'm pretty certain I'll jump on board along with quite a large percentage of other freetards. Then all this rubbish being spouted by the EC will become irrelevant.