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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 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 Media and Academics – please cite as Monica Horten, IFPI letter to Ministers: don’t silence the democratic process , 14 February  2012 . Commercial users - please contact me.




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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

Don't miss Iptegrity!  RSS/ Bookmark is the website of Dr Monica Horten. She is a policy analyst specialising in Internet governance & European policy, including platform accountability. She is a 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 the Caucasus. In a voluntary capacity, she has led UK citizen delegations to the European Parliament. She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012.

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