Parliament report stirs lobbying drive on Internet piracy

Civil rights groups warn against tackling Internet piracy along with counterfeiting

Should teenagers who illegally download music, films and the like in their bedrooms be treated like criminal gangs counterfeiting everything from life-saving drugs to Gucci handbags?

Yes, according to some members of Parliament and lobby groups for the content industry who are amplifying their message now in the hope of influencing an important report being discussed in the European Parliament this week.

Mareille Gallo, a French MEP in the center-right European People's Party (EPP), has tabled a report that aims to lump Internet piracy with the broader problem of counterfeiting. She believes that illegal file-sharing is killing Europe's culture and harming its economy, so tough measures are needed to prevent it.

She supported a campaign by actors' groups on Wednesday aimed at highlighting the costs Europe will pay if it doesn't clamp down on Internet piracy.

In 2008 the E.U.'s music, film, TV and software industries lost an estimated €10 billion ($US1.37 billion) in revenue due to Internet piracy, according to a study unveiled by the actors' groups.

"Based on current projections and assuming no significant policy changes, the European Union's creative industries could expect to see cumulative retail revenue losses of as much as €240 billion by 2015, resulting in 1.2 million jobs lost by 2015," the study concluded.

The study was unveiled just before the Gallo report was discussed by Parliament's internal market committee on Wednesday and by the industry committee on Thursday.

According to several MEPs and lobby groups on both sides of the debate, opinion in Parliament is turning against Gallo's report, and many are trying to insert safeguards into it that would ensure a clear distinction between Internet piracy and counterfeiting.

"The debate is moving away from treating the two issues as the same. Counterfeiting is done on a commercial level by dangerous criminals, while Internet piracy is mostly done by young people at home. You can't compare the two," said Jan Albrecht, a German MEP from the Green Party.

He said that in recent months there has been "a U-turn in thinking among MEPs about fundamental citizens' rights," after nearly a decade when civil rights were sacrificed in the fight against terrorism.

Earlier this year the European Parliament blocked an agreement to share citizens' personal financial data with U.S. authorities --- the so-called SWIFT affair, named after a money transfer company responsible for trillions of euros in transfers each year.

Last week a large majority of MEPs from across the political divide supported a resolution calling on the European Commission to open up secret trade negotiations with the U.S. and others, known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

In February parts of the ACTA negotiating text were leaked, revealing plans to clamp down on illegal file-sharing as well as on counterfeiting, by making ISPs (Internet service providers) legally liable for the content uploaded and downloaded by their subscribers.

"The Parliament's ACTA resolution calls on the Commission to limit the scope of the trade agreement to counterfeiting only. If the Commission listens to the Parliament and makes the changes the resolution calls for, then there won't be a problem regarding citizens' fundamental rights," said Joe McNamee, an advocacy coordinator with the campaign group European Digital Rights.

Failure to distinguish between counterfeiting and Internet piracy in E.U. law could result in the passing of laws too blunt to tackle the serious and often life-threatening problems of counterfeiting, and too draconian to tackle illegal file-sharing, McNamee said.

"Everyone loses by linking these two things," McNamee said.

The debate about the Gallo report comes as the European Commission examines whether to resurrect an E.U. directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, which was killed off before being passed in 2007 due to the sensitivity of the debate, particularly concerning copyright enforcement.

If the Gallo report is changed in a way that makes a clear distinction between counterfeiting and piracy, then any enforcement directive being drafted by the Commission can be expected to be proportionate to the crimes it aims to address, McNamee said. But he added that if it gets adopted in the form its author wants, then there is a real risk that an IPR enforcement directive will impose criminal sanctions on illegal file-sharers -- an idea that was dismissed as too draconian when the directive was first debated.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securitypiracyeuropean union

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Meller

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?