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Marielle Gallo, the French, Sarkozy-ite, pro-copyright MEP, has set up a new policy discussion forum for the EPP Group in the European Parliament. Called the IP Forum, its stated mission is to discuss IP policy for economic growth, investment and jobs. But the Forum's name seems somewhat ill-fitting when the objective appears to be targetting online enforcement and has ACTA in its sights. Is this just a cover for a talking shop on ACTA and the IPR enforcement directive?

Mme Gallo's first event is a seminar called IPR enforcement in the digital era on 22 November, and is packed with speakers who will take a hardline, pro-industry viewpoint.

The keynote speaker is Victoria Espinel is White House U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and formerly on the staff of the USTR. It is the USTR which launched ACTA and which (as the Wikileaks cables have revealed) is responsible for pressuring European governments who do not implement US-friendly enforcement policies.

As the US government has two Bills before Congress concerning online IPR enforcement - Bills which will facilitate the instant blocking of websites as per ACTA - we can perhaps expect her to talk about that.

Another speaker is Vronique Desbrosses, Secretary General of GESAC, the music collecting societies lobby group. GESAC was one of the chief lobbyists for copyright in the Telecoms Package. Will she push once again for measures in the IPR Enforcement directive to make the ISPs liable?

Margot Froehlinger will also be speaking. She is the head of copyright at the European Commission, who handbagged the ISPs in earlier secret discussions about online enforcement - she was trying to get them to agree to 'voluntary measures' with the rights-holders, outside of the conventional EU policy processes: ISPs & rights-holders in dust-up over Europe-wide MoU She is ultimately responsible for the IPR Enforcement directive.

However, her role at the Commission technically requires her to take a neutral position and to listen to all sides. I note from her biography that she is a Consititutional lawyer, so she should understand about free speech and due process. It will be interesting if she actually goes public on what she will propose for online enforcement policy.

A fourth speaker is Stacey King, of INTA - this is the International Trade Mark Association, behind which stand all the luxury goods makers, the cosmetic companies and others with heavy investments in trade marks and so -called 'brands'.

The programme suggests that a Google lobbyist is speaking - well, if you need a token non-web-blocking speaker, why not get Google?

The angle of the IPR enforcement in the digital era seminar is a thinly veiled promotion for ACTA. This is suggested by the reference to external trade policy:

Our industrialized trade partners have already grasped this reality and have taken all necessary measures to protect effectively their companies from counterfeiting and piracy. These measures have been welcomed by trade unions. At the same time,through its trade policy the European Union participates internationally to the creation of an appropriate legal framework in order to enable our companies and their employees to benefit fully from globalization.

The appropriate legal framework is intended to mean ACTA. Other references to the role of IP in inudstry are aimed at the IPR Enforcement directive. But it is inappropriate for such a discussion to appear under the cloak of an economic Forum on IP.

Marielle Gallo is an active internal campaigner for the copyright industries. She recently topped the speakers list at a meeting of the notorious Kangaroo group on the topic of IP rights: EU Parliament's Kangaroo Group hops onto ACTA. Interestingly, the url for the IP Forum is Marielle Gallo's fight which is a bit of a giveaway for how she sees it.


PS Mme Gallo, in her introduction to the Forum, makes the claim that we would not have smartphones and other mobile devices without IP rights, which, she believes, gave companies the incentives to invest and provide choice for consumers.

I should just like to point out that the GSM system which has brought us the smartphones, is based on open standards which were negotiated by representatives of all the mobile companies and manufacturers. All mobile phone manufacturers have to conform to those open standards. The first GSM standards, which uncannily previewed smartphones, were draw up in the 1980s.

The incentive to invest and provide consumer choice was open market competition. Any communications system needs to have open standards and open interconnection in order to provide the economic benefits that policy-makers anticipate.

Please attribute this article to: Monica Horten (2011) European Parliament hardline seminar on enforcement and ACTA , 10 November 2011


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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor, with expertise in online safety, technology and human rights. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

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