A rights-holder onslaught on the Medina report attempts to force the Parliament’s vote on graduated response and P2P filesharing issues...contrasted against  the Lambrinidis report calling for a the policy principles establishing a balance between privacy and surveillance...the two reports present MEPS with a dilemma on how to move forward on Internet policy for Europe.

 

The Medina report, from the 73-year old Spanish MEP Manuel Medina Ortega , contains the full rights-holder wish-list of graduated response, ISP “cooperation”, secondary liability for peer-to-peer filesharing sites and other websites, content liability for ISPs, and content filtering. It reads like an onslaught by the rights-holder lobby.

For example, it "Calls for cooperation from internet access providers in preventing and curbing electronic piracy"  and it "Supports the setting-up in the individual Member States of mecanisms, to be employed on instruction from rightholders and using a graduated approach, for the enforcement of copyright on the Internet". 

Several amendments can be traced directly to the former French culture minister MEP Jacques Toubon – responsible for the “cooperation” amendment in the Telecoms Package; as well as MEPs Janelly Fourtou and Arlene McCarthy. Mme Fourtou is the wife of Jean-René Fourtou, who is President of the French film and music conglomerate Vivendi.

The significance of the Medina report becomes clear in

the context of the Telecoms Package political arguments over Amendment 138. Rights-holders attempts to get an EU-wide graduated response system endorsed by the Parliament have been stalled by amendment 138. The Medina report looks very much like an attempt to sneak in a vote by the Parliament that would endorse graduated response – and the other elements of their copyright enforcement agenda – in order to force the Parliament’s hand on the issue. The report has no legislative significance, and it’s chief role is to set the Parliament’s agenda and expression of views on policy.

By contrast, the Lambrinidis report seeks to establish a set of balanced principles for European Internet policy. Drafted by Greek MEP Stavros Lambrinidis, it calls on the European Council to develop a policy agenda that would enable privacy and freedom of expression to be equitably balanced against the increasing level of security and survellance on the Internet. It is – unlike the Medina report – a well-researched, well-argued, and thoughtful report. The one mistake it makes, in my opinion, is to include a clause on IP rights. This willl unfortunately leave it vulnerable to targetting by the rights-holder lobbyists, and the intelligent thinking behind this report risks being  drowned in another bun-fight over copyright enforcement (rather like what happened with the Telecoms Package).

This would be a shame because the EU needs to find a platform where the policy principles on which we run the Internet are clearly established for all, and the Lambrinidis initiative is a good starting point for this policy discussion.

 It certainly presents MEPs with a dilemma, which they will need to resolve before they enter the chamber to vote on the Medina report, which is anticipated in the next two months.