Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

...dragging in healthcare, criminal sanctions, ACTA, and simple, old-fashioned, rights-holder blackmail: " clear the net, and we'll set up legal offers".

After the  Telecoms Package  has opened up the possibilities for  restricting   the Internet, the EU is trying to move in closer on copyright and IP enforcement.  A new European Council document is calling for stronger penalties for IP infringement and seeks to re-open a shelved proposal for criminal measures.


The document is an internal one drawn up by the Spanish Presidency, and is being discussed in a series of

meetings which began last October, in parallel with Council discussions on the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).


 It was most recently discussed at a meeting of the Council bureaucrats who deal with  intellectual property, on 9 February.  The document is a ‘Council Resolution' and is responding to a Commission Communication on IP Enforcement. It  is very close in subject matter to a forthcoming European Parliament report by rapporteur Marielle Gallo (French, EPP).


Such a Resolution has no legislative effect, but what it does do, is it gives the Commission instructions for the next stages in policy development. It is, if you like, an early-warning  signal of future policies on Internet and copyright enforcement. That is why it is important.


The key points are:


18 - this is a new line of attack - that piracy is hampering the emergence of legal business models. In other words, this is  rights-holder blackmail - they will not invest in legal web offers of their products until governments have forced ISPs to police the content.

It totally rides-roughshod over the Telecoms Package final agreement.


39a   - calls on the Commission and the Member States to negotiate the ACTA agreement (although ACTA is not mentioned directly, this is clearly what is meant).


37 and 38 - the reference to ‘voluntary agreements' means  coerce the ISPs into 3-strikes  agreements


30 - asks the Commission to propose  amendments to the IP enforcement directive.


30a - simplify cross-border judicial decisions for IP enforcement


30b - calls on the Commission to re-open the directive which would impose EU-wide  criminal sanctions for IP infringement. This directive has been shelved to date, because the Commission had no mandate to create measures which addressed criminal law, this being the domain of the Member States.

31- 34 - this refers to the European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy, launched by DG Internal Market last April, following a year's preparatory work. This Observatory began life in earnest in September and the second meeting of its participants was to take place on an unspecified day this month. The participants come from the rights-holder community, and this list of speakers from the conference in April is indicative. Note they include John Kennedy (IFPI), Ted Shapiro (MPA) and Paloma Castro-Martinez, who used to work for eBay and now works for luxury goods manufacturers.

34 - another new line of attack is healthcare, or health and safety. The intent here is to sweep in the pharmaceuticals industry, and indeed the healthcare products industry in general. This was already hinted at by a question to Michel Barnier (the new Internal Market Commissioner)  in the European Parliament, and it is concerning, since for many people, the web is the only place where they can  inform themselves about condition which they suffer from and buy goods to help them. 


Read the Spanish Presidency's proposal for a European Council resolution on IP enforcement .



Read the draft Gallo report on IPR Enforcement (very much a draft as part in English and French).


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) EU Council signals new attacks on the Net , 15 February 2010 . 


Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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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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