An esoteric intellectual property right granted to a small pastry product leads us to the epicentre of the geopolitics of Brexit.

Britain’s international trade Minister Liam Fox let slip last week in a BBC Radio interview  that his US trade talks will include intellectual property rights (IPR).  The inclusion of IPR is not a surprise to seasoned watchers of the international trade agenda, but the implications for British businesses might be. Brexit means  that some IP rights  will fall away, such as geographical indicators which protect local British products like the Cornish pasty. There will be political choices for the British government. Those choices will be shaped by the wider geo-political forces between the EU and the US.  

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How far  does the French-British action plan against terrorism on the Internet impose new liabilities on Internet companies? Where does an upload filter become prior censorship?

When Theresa May met the French President Emmanuel Macron  in June this year they agreed a joint proposal to suppress terrorist content content on the Internet. They vowed to work together to block content, freeze user accounts and get access to encrypted content. This would involve stay down measures and access  to personal data behind IP addresses. The plan  has received little coverage, no doubt overshadowed by much bigger geo-political agendas. In this post, I consider how the Franco-British Action Plan puts pressure on Internet intermediaries and raises questions  for human rights online.

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The strange case of the right to IP which will cease in the UK post-Brexit.
The Great Repeal Bill - now known by its new title of the European Union (EU) Withdrawal Bill – will take away a right to intellectual property (IP) granted under EU law. Here's why:

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The irony of Britain leaving the European Union is that that other side is driving.

The British have been forced  to accept that trade negotiations will not run in parallel with the 'divorce' talks, that the negotiators wll meet 4-weekly, that the default setting is 'transparency'.  How is the EU is able to impose terms, when this should be a joint negotiation? It is a manifestation of power play in an imbalanced relationship.  This article investigates the power relations of Brexit and suggests that the EU is able to wield 'structural power' in order to shape choices for the British.

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In seeking a response to terrorism, how can we protect our democratic values online as well as offline? Theresa May says there should be no safe spaces for online extremism, but attacking online platforms, and laying the blame entirely at their feet, is at best unhelpful and fundamentally problematic. How should we, as a society, ensure safeguards against the unintended consequences of such measures?

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I very much enjoyed chairing an election hustings for the independent candidates and minor parties in Maidenhead at the 2017 General Election.  Four of the 13 candiates turned up: Julian Reid, The Just Party / Independent; Grant Smith, Independent; Andrew Knight, Animal Welfare Party; Lord Buckethead, Independent.

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Copyright enforcement remains an ongoing policy issue, with the current processing of the new Copyright Directive in the European Parliament.

This article is the text of my speech at the Council of Europe "Freedom of Expression Online"  conference in Nicosia, Cyprus on 28 April 2017.  The speech is entitled Balancing freedom of expression online: insights from copyright cases. I address Member State and ECJ caselaw, taking copyright enforcement cases, mainly from the UK, as examples. The cases concern the blocking or filtering of content, and balancing the conflicting rights of copyright versus freedom of expression. 

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The notification of Britain's intention to withdraw from  the European Union is the start of a process that takes policy-makers into new and unknown territory.  For the British government and the legislature, it will be a tricky if not perilous path with an unpredictable outcome. Theresa May says she wants a 'global Britain'.  Many others fear that fear that Britain is heading over a cliff.


This article analyses three key timings for that process.

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The Closing of the Net   (Polity Press 2016)

"takes the pulse of the open web" Journal of IP Law & Practice

What is meant by The Closing of the Net?  The notion reflects calls by various political interests for the Internet platforms like Facebook or Twitter  to 'do something' about  content that

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I was delighted to be invited back to Ukraine to present for a second year in a row as a Council of Europe expert at the Internet Governance Forum on 14 October 2016 (programme  only in Ukrainian - my name appears as Моніка Хортен ).

 

The title of my presentation was Human rights and security on-line: European standards and practices for ensuring a balance. My speech discussed the balance between security and the rights and freedoms of individuals.  This is a dilemma that goes way back into history. It is in the nature of security, that those who have the power to protect, also have the ability to threaten. This is why, in democratic societies, we also insist on safeguards against abuses of power.

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I presented my paper "Content responsibility: The looming cloud of Uncertainty for Internet Intermediaries" at CDT's Brussel's event:  "Intermediary Liability & Content Responsibility: A Cloud of Uncertainty for Internet Intermediaries"   on  6 September 2016.

Other panelists were MEP Julia Reda,  MEP Julia Reda, Joe McNamee of European Digital Rights (EDRI), and Alex de Joode of Nederland ICT.

 Download the paper  here.

The paper was commissioned  by CDT.

EU Copyright directive draft 2016




In what can only be called a policy bombshell, proposed new EU copyright rules will force social media sites to police content. A leaked version of a proposed new copyright directive seeks to impose draconian monitoring obligations any sites that support content uploaded by  users. If the leaked draft to be believed, content platforms will have to install content scanning systems to monitor and remove copyrighted material. In addition, they will have to  report back to rightsholders.

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Iptegrity deeply regrets the British decision to leave the European Union. I feel that - far from being Indpendence Day or a liberating moment- this decision is a bad sign for democracy in Britain.

The referendum campaign was dominated by propagandist,  manipulative  and bullying commentary from powerful media owners, who sought to silence their critics, and they succeeded in  muffling  the voices of those who believed Britain would have been better to stay in Europe.  We do not know how

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The Copyright Enforcement Enigma 'accurate and absorbing account of the story of the Telecoms Package' -Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology

'...a must read for those interested in knowing in depth about copyright enforcement and Internet.' -Journal of Intellectual Property Rights.  

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

European Parliament launch for Copyright Enforcement Enigma

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Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. She is  a trainer & consultant on Internet governance policy, published author& Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on  Internet freedom. She has worked on CoE, EU and UNDP funded projects in eastern Europe and beyond.  She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012. Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy (and now Brexit). Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity

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The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review