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Policy matters

Policy does matter. We may think that the Internet is a free digital environment, where no laws apply but there are many cases which contradict this notion.

In this section of Iptegrity.com, I  report on EU policy related to the Internet and online content, in particular, where policy intiatives affect   access to film, music and television, and I highlight issues for the  policy debate in relation to the Internet.  For 2008-2009, copyright enforcement has been the hot topic, with net neutrality emerging as well, in 2009.   My focus is on the European Union and  its member states - for example,  I am currently covering Internet  policy - specifically copyright enforcement intiatives - in France and the UK.

I am most interested in the citizen's perspective. However, the issues I cover will affect the Internet and telecoms industries, as well as the media and entertainment industries.  

Iptegrity.com offers  original reporting from the EU, as well as comment and opinion on issues raised in other media, including non-English language media in Europe. Iptegrity.com is the main English-language news source for the Telecoms Package review of EU telecoms law.

The Walt Disney Co, one of the leading lobby-ists for 'riposte graduee' in the EU and in France, has had a "fantastic quarter" for the first three months of 2008. According to Reuters. Disney outperformed the analysts expectations, with a a 17 per cent rise in operating income, and a 22 per cent rise in profits. Its broadcasting arm, ABC, has claimed a 'double digit' rise in advertising income. The company was rewarded by the markets with a 1.6 per cent rise in the share price on the day the results were announced.

Analysts are even saying that Disney is "recession resistant" and is showing more signs of a going through a boom market than a troubled one.

The question for the legislators should therefore be whether such a firm really needs political support like the French 'riposte graduee' proposals, to underpin it, especially to the extent of changing some fundamental European legal principles such as data protection and mere conduit?

New technologies to improve peer-to-peer (P2P) technologies are appearing behind the scenes - and they offer a pointed reposte to the content industries about how to deal with P2P downloading. They demonstrate ways to solve the problem by technical means. And when you consider this carefully, it means you can demolish the IFPI / MPAA argument that the only way to reduce P2P traffic on the networks is through litigation and sanction - or that P2P traffic can be reduced at all.

P4P is a way for ISPs to tidy up the P2P traffic and reduce the amount of bandwidth it users - P4P is, if you like, a technically neater way to transmit P2P traffic, and will help reduce the network management overhead for ISPs. The core group of companies developing P4P* consists of a number of ISPs, mostly American, hand in glove with P2P companies like BitTorrent and Limewire, plus a few stalwart equipment manufacturers like Cisco. And - this is where it gets really interesting - on the list of observers is - well, you guessed didn't you? - the Motion Picture Association of America, NBC Universal (part-owned by Vivendi), Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting - all the content industry heavyweights.

Read more: P4P riposte to IFPI / MPA muck-spreading

A leaked document which is believed to be a US-led Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement reveals proposals to punish downloaders to a greater extent than any existing proposals in the EU. The document details, for example, criminal sanctions for 'significant wilful infringements without motivation for financial gain' - this would appear to mean that anyone downloading too many files could be branded a criminal, even if the files were only for personal use. That is considerably heavier than the proposed EU legislation, already controversial, which would criminalise only commmercial infringers.

The proposed new Trade Agreement was presented last October by US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, to representatives of the European Commission, Australia, Canada, Japan and other governments. It would also mandate proposals for ISPs to police content at the behest of content companies, and would force them to divulge personal information identifying alleged infringers - on the basis of "effective notification of a claimed infringement".

Not only is this in breach of existing EU data protection legislation, it would also appear to break a fundamental

Read more: ACTA: Downloads to be criminalised by the back door

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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.