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A lobbying letter, attributed to the IFPI, the international arm of of the recorded music industry, and circulated by a coalition of rights-holders, attempts to wear the mantle of the moral high-ground in Europe's political battle over ACTA. This wolf in sheep's clothing also appears to have access to documents which have been denied to civil society.

The letter, leaked to IP-Watch, is signed by a range of rights-holder lobbying groups, including the European Publishers Council, the British Video Association, the Dutch collecting society BREIN, GESAC, IRMA, and the BPI. The European Publishers Association has the distinction of having James Murdoch, son of Rupert, on its board. It is being sent to members of the European Parliament, as well as to Ministers in national governments. It is believed that IFPI authored the letter.

The letter accuses the citizens protests of "silencing the democratic process". It calls for "a calm and reasoned assessment" ( as signalled yesterday by iptegrity.com: ACTA - let the battle begin). The full text reads:

"Over the past two weeks, we have seen coordinated attacks on democratic institutions such as the European Parliament and national governments over ACTA. The signatories to this letter and their members stand against such attempts to silence the democratic process. Instead, we call for a calm and reasoned assessment of the facts rather than the misinformation circulating."

The letter even tries to bring in the wider politics. It says that countries outside Europe are sceptical of the EU's ability to pull together and co-ordinate policy, and that ACTA is an opportunity for them to show how they can work coherently.

"Failure to do so [ratify ACTA] will irrevocably affect Europe's credibility as a trusted global trade partner, " the IFPI letter states.

It also seems as though IFPI may have had sight of two legal opinions from the European Parliament - opinions which have been barred from civil society.

"ACTA will have no negative consequences as it does not depart from EU law - as confirmed by two opinions of the European Parliament's Legal Service as well as the European Commission."

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) has mounted a long-running campaign to get access to ACTA documents and is consistently refused, with variations on the answer. Similarly, European Digital Rights has been asking for access to documents, and been refused.

Both organisations have been asking for the European Parliament's Legal Service's Opinions to be released, without much joy. The FFII has repeatedly been sent documents where all the important text is redacted.

It begs the question why does IFPI get access which civil society is denied?

For more analysis of the 2012 ACTA political battle in the European Parliament see ACTA - let the battle begin

You may re-publish my article under a Creative Commons licence, but you should cite my name and provide a link back to iptegrity.com. Media and Academics - please cite as Monica Horten, IFPI letter to Ministers: don't silence the democratic process , www.iptegrity.com 14 February 2012 . Commercial users - please contact me.


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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.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.  

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