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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.

Promusicae, the Spanish version of IFPI, has filed a claim in a Madrid court against the file-sharing website Blubster. The claim alleges that the site showed "parasitic behaviour" and that it had "commercial intent" with customers paying "from $10,000 per month" in advertising fees.

According to a report in the LA Times , Blubster added a "layer of anonymity" to its file-sharing service, so that it is harder for content companies to track what its users  are doing - and that may well be the real reason why they are prosecuting.  The LA Times article also points out that the case raises similar issues to the Grokster case in the US and the Kazaa case, which was pursued in the US and in Australia. 

 And as anyone in the media industry knows, $10,000 isn't much in terms of  advertising rates - on or off-line.

The IFPI press release concerning the case is available here.  

Report on EPP-ED Hearing, Creative Content Online, European Parliament, 12 June 2008

 

Three minutes and you're out!  Michael Bartholomew, director of ETNO - the European Telecommunications Network Operators group - walked out of the European Parliament hearing on online content when  he was cut off from speaking after just three minutes.  Mr Bartholmew was one of only two speakers from the telecoms industry, in a seminar entitled 'the search for consensus' - compared with four speakers from the content industry who had 10 minutes each.

He did get across the point that his members are investing three hundred billion Euros in new network infrastructure, capable of carrying mass-scale, broadcast-quality television which the content industries want to do. He asked whether it was really fair that the telcos and ISPs should foot the bill for the enforcement measures which the content industries want.  And, directing comments straight to the heart of the cultural lobby, he stated that the market needs to meet requirements for cultural diversity, as well as the consumer's right to privacy, and the right NOT to be criminalised for a civil misdemeanor. 

 The overall tenor of the hearing was  skewed against the ISPs - and was it me, or did I understand correctly the suggestion that if the content industries go down with piracy, they will drag the ISPs down with them? 

 

Report on EPP-ED Hearing, Creative Content Online, European Parliament, 12 June 2008

 

The French government will use its presidency of the EU to push through legislation necessary for copyright enforcement. The aim is to have everything  ready for a Council of Ministers meeting in November. This was revealed by Ms Laurence Franceschini, director of creation and broadcasting at the French Ministry of Culture, who had the longest speaking slot - 20 minutes - at this event. She gave a series of dates for Presidency events where cultural issues and online content would be discussed, and stated that the French government's "objective is to prepare Council conclusions for November".  

 Ms  Franceschini also spoke of the plans for the so-called "telecoms package": 'In the amendments added, we have seen a clear political will to raise awareness of  measures which are there to educate the consumer on piracy and respect of copyright'. And she underlined the need to get the right legal and fiscal instruments in place - but she did not expand, notably on what she meant by" fiscal"  instruments.

 Ms Franceschini's statements are worrying for privacy campaigners and indeed for the ISPs and telecoms industry.  The telecoms package contains a number of hidden amendments which will compromise privacy and enable draconian copyright enforcement practices to happen throughout Europe. MEPS voted in April against such measures being brought in, clearly stating that criminalising people for copyright infringement, and / or cutting off Internet access, is not acceptable (see here for French and here for English version). The MEP Guy Bono continues to campaign against copyright enforcement in the EU  - see his website here.  

 

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

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

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Iptegrity.com 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.

Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy (and related issues on Brexit). Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity

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