The Closing of the Net  "original and valuable"  Times Higher Education

The French Presidency of the European Union is promoting an EU working group to develop and implement content identification and filtering techniques - those behind it are understood to include IFPI, Vivendi, SACEM and CISAC.

 The news has emerged in a  speech given  by French culture minister Christine Albanel ,  to a conference hosted last month in Paris by the French government, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union. She was speaking at the end of the proceedings, and giving the conclusions  of the seminar sessions.  One of those conclusions was to set up a joint working group of the European Commission, rights-holders from the media industries, and ISPs, to test and implement  content filtering technologies.

 Mme Albanel  makes a point of thanking the moderators of the sessions,  whom, she says, 'worked late into the night to put together the conclusions'. Among those moderators were John Kennedy, President of IFPI, Bernard Miyet, president of Gesac (and SACEM), Eric Baptiste, director General of CISAC, and Phillippe Kern, of KEA, a consultancy with links to the French film industry. Thus, we have to assume, in the absence of any other information, that the filtering working group was devised by them. The conference was also sponsored by Vivendi, and had a bias toward content industry speakers, several of them from IFPI. 

Mme Albanel says that she wants to turn the weapons of the content pirates against them. She is particularly thinking of content recognition and fingerprinting technologies, as well as

metadata referencing tools. She goes on to say: "Vous avez proposé de poursuivre dans cette voie en lançant un groupe de travail européen qui réunirait les acteurs publics (États membres et Commission) et privés (opérateurs de télécommunications, plates-formes de diffusion, ayants droit, industriels du logiciel), pour expérimenter et préparer la mise en place d’outils d’identification des oeuvres". (Rough translation: You have proposed in this respect to launch a European working group which will bring together public (Commission and member states) and private actors (operators of telecoms networks, distribution platforms, rights holders, software vendors) to test  and prepare to put in place the tools for identification of works.)


She goes on to say that ISPs or content website owners could jointly finance this development: "Ce groupe pourrait aborder notamment la question du financement de ces technologies, lors des phases de recherche et de développement, puis lors des phases d’exploitation. C’est à dire, clairement, celle de la répartition de ce financement entre ayants droit et diffuseurs. " (Rough translation: this group could look at financing of these technologies, in the research and implemetation phases. That is to say, the split between rights holders and distributors.)


Content recognition technologies are a key element in the  filtering schemes which the music industry in particular, has been pushig for ISPs to implement. The ISPs say they don't work. And the vendors will admit that they can't determine for copyright fair use and other exceptions to copyright law.  


IFPi's John Kennedy led a seminar entitled 'Towards a greater circulation of contents' of which the main thrust was 'fighting piracy'. A majority of the speakers came from the media industries, including 2 from IFPI member organisations. The speakers included Geoff Taylor of the BPI (an IFPI member), Nicholas Seydoux of the French anti-piracy group ALPA, Herve Rony of the French IFPI-member SNEP, Olivier Bomsel, a French lawyer who has spoken in defence of riposte graduee, Michael Angus of News Corporation  subsidiary Fox Interactive (part of the Murdoch empire), Thierry Desurmont  of the French collecting society SACEM, and Borje Hanson of the film producers group FIAPF (and associate of the Motion Picture Association and the UK-based anti-piracy group PACT). Ebay,  Daily Motion and Telefonica represented the Internet indsutry, with BEUC representing the consumer. 


There was a notable absence of IT, web or telecoms industry spokespeople among the speakers, and   no-one from any citizens groups or representation of the public interest. 








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