Copyright? Copywrong?  Why do fundamental rights matter in copyright policy? Read 

A Copyright Masquerade: how corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'Recommend it heartily' Society for Computers & the Law (SCL) 'valuable resource' Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

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'No' to content gatekeeping by ISPs.   A higher privacy barrier for copyright policing.

Two pieces of good news for the Internet have emerged from the EU in the past 7 days. They arise out of two entirely separate processes, but both indicate a mood of distaste for corporate control of the Internet. Last week, the European Parliament voted in favour of a net neutrality law; this week the European court of Justice ruled that a law on the collection of telephone and Internet metadata is invalid.

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The duel between the telecoms industry and  European citizens’ advocates  over net neutrality as the European Parliament prepares for a decisive  vote.  At stake is the very principle of net neutrality – will Europe be brave anough to enshrine it in law?

 At stake is the entire future of the Internet in Europe.  The telecoms operators have a plan that will totally disrupt the Internet as it stands, enabling them to charge both users and content owners provision of content services. Such charging would position the telecoms operators as the gatekeepers for content, and erode the public service nature of the Internet   – if they are allowed to get away with it. The outcome of tomorrow’s vote will be a determinant of what they can, or cannot, do.

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I was on the panel of a public debate hosted by LSE Media Policy Project on Monday 10 March 2014. The following text  is an edited version of my presentation.

My presentation  addressed the notion of  ‘freedoms’ in the event title.  The  specific topic – intermediary liability  for copyright enforcement - brings the the issue of ‘freedoms’  into sharp focus  because the proposed measures  asking ISPs and search engines to protect copyright online by blocking and removing content also present a threat to the Open Internet and potentially to free speech.  My focus  is not on  getting stuff for free, but on the potential for blocking of legitimate speech.

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Does the Internet belong to corporations or to citizens? Who runs it? Who owns it? Who decides what’s on it? Is it going to turn into a TV with a Facebook extra? All of this is at stake. It’s a vote being forced by the telecoms industry, to spike any chance of Europe getting a net neutrality law after the Euro-elections.  If this vote is lost, what can be done to save the Internet?

On Tuesday morning, the European Parliament will take a strategic vote for the future of the Internet as we know it. The law that is being voted on is the propsed new Telecoms REgulation, also known as the Regulation on a European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent. Inside the Parliament, the net neutrality issue is clearly the subject of a massive political fight, with over

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Part 3 of a series of 3 postings on the leaked EU TTIP discussion document

 It has emerged that the rules that  protect Internet service providers and hosting companies from content  liability are being tabled for discussion in talks about the proposed  EU –EU trade deal (TTIP) . The proposal was revealed in a leaked European Commission document published recently by the German newspaper Die Zeit. Since any move by the EU to on intermediary liability legislation will be highly constroversial, it is interesting that the Commission is putting it forward for TTIP talks.

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Part 2 of a series of 3 postings on the leaked EU TTIP discussion document

 Just as the European Parliament is about to vote on  new data protection rules, TTIP touches on another aspect of privacy.

Has a discussion on communications traffic data slipped into the EU-US trade talks (TTIP)? It seems as though it might have done. Iptegrity previously reported on the re-work of telecoms law  that is signalled by a series of provisions in a European Commission document  that is to form the basis of discussion at the TTIP talks. Within that context, the issue has slipped in via a back door.

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Part 1 of a series of 3 postings on the leaked EU TTIP discussion document

 The European Union could give away  unlimited rights to foreign telecoms companies to buy up rivals in Europe as part of the proposed new transatlantic trade deal  (TTIP).  This is one of an astonishing set of proposals revealed in a  Commission document leaked by the German newspaper Die Zeit last week.  The leaked document further indicates  a possible re-write of the EU telecoms framework, outlining  a ‘mini’ version of the EU Telecoms Package for discussion.  

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A back-room political compromise on net neutrality  that is  being quiety negotiated in the European Parliament  is currently sitting on a knife-edge. It is the only element of the Telecoms Regulation (Connected Continent) that has not been agreed between the different party groups (as previously predicted by Iptegrity).  The Committee vote is on Monday.

 The big  stakes are  whether  a telco-led agenda  for  priorised Internet services  will be permitted. This agenda will also have serious implications for ordinary telephone services and how television is delivered. In addition, there are issues surrounding Neelie Kroes flagship anti-discrimination clause.

***Update Tuesday 25 February - the vote has been postponed until 10  March.***

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 When even the experts are struggling, it  should set off alarm bells. The net neutrality issue is hotting up in the European Parliament, but who really understands what is happening?  It has been under scrutiny from the various committees and is now with the Industry committee for a vote in a couple of weeks time. The signs are that  the rapporteur, Pilar Del Castillo,  is being challenged, but there are concerning indications that MEPs will give in to amendments that put at risk not only  the structure of the Internet, but of the whole telecoms market.

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 If the government were to mandate a privately-funded body to handle adult content blocking it would be ‘a species of censoring... without any obligation of prior judicial approval’  

A report on the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)  - a UK-based Hotline to report the most serious cases of child abuse on the Internet –  by the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken (now Lord) MacDonald, has a lot to say about the difficulties of a take-down regime for adult content, suggesting that the IWF drop such content from its remit. In the broader discussions around Internet content blocking, his rationale is  interesting. He concludes  that there would be  serious risks to free speech  rights "if" a privately-funded bodywere to be  given Internet take-down powers over 'sensitive' content. As Iptegrity readers will know, guarantees of fundamental rights under  EU law mean that a court ruling is required before governments can

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Eight years after the EU first began working on music online, the European Parliament this morning  adopted a new directive to regulate music collecting societies. MEPs came to a  political agreement that the transparency and administration of collecting societies should be regulated in order to improve the flow of money to artists. They also recognised that  cross-border licencing had to be addressed in order to enable pan-European online music services.

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Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten,  policy writer and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She is an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on Cross-border flow of Internet traffic and Internet freedom (MSI-INT). She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012. Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy. Iptegrity is read by lawyers, academics, policy-makers and citizens, and cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity

A top IP law book!

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review

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