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

As Victoria A. Espinel,  the White House co-ordinator on copyright enforcement prepares to  speak in the European Parliament next week, we learn of new powers being sought by the US government to impose IPR rules on other countries, including the EU. The Stop Online Piracy Act (also sometimes referred to as E-parasite) in the US congress seeks to impose the most draconian measures against Internet users and websites. But from an EU perspective, it contains a  poison pill.   American academics and NGOs who have studied are warning that it contains dangerous provisions which would empower US Embassies to force other countries to adopt  the same anti-Internet measures.

 The Stop Online Piracy Act ( SOPA - also sometimes referred to as E-parasite)  is a twin to the Protect-IP Act in the US Senate. American academics are saying that SOPA will create a firewall of  Internet censorship.

 SOPA  contains measures against search engines and linking sites, and indeed it would appear, against any site  which is deemed to be  “dedicated to infringing activities.”

Sites could be ordered to disappear from the Internet, without an entitlement to a defence, under measures which would includes orders addressed to ISPs and domain registrars.

SOPA also contains provisions whereby the US government can check out websites for possible infringing content, and if the website tries to stop them, it may be sanctioned.

 Section 205 of Stop Online Piracy Act   is called: Defending Intellectual Property Rights Abroad.  Section 205 would build on the existing Special 301 process but will take it much further. It provides for “aggressive support for enforcement action against violations of the intellectual property rights of United States persons”.  And it  specifically mandates US embassies to ‘enable’ foreign governments to comply with international obligations regarding IP rights.  A new role of  IP attache will be created in order to facilitate this. This  role will be to  work with United States holders of intellectual property rights and industry to address intellectual property rights violations in the countries where the attachés are assigned.

US Embassies currently put pressure on other governments using the Special 301 powers.  Exactly how they do so has been revealed in various leaked diplomatic cables   published by Wikileaks.

 The EU should take this threat very seriously. SOPA could mean that US Embassiess will try to forces changes in EU and Member State law which would  contravene to the acquis and indeed  are contrary to the balance of rights which we have established in Europe.

 Victoria A. Espinel is speaking at the IP Forum, co-ordinated by the French pro-copyright MEP Marielle Gallo, next week.European Parliament hardline event on ACTA and enforcement


SOPA Section  205:

a. aggressive support for enforcement action against violations of the intellectual property rights of United States persons in such country;

b. cooperation with and support for the host government’s efforts to conform its applicable laws, regulations, practices, and processes to enable the host government to honor its international and bilateral obligations with respect to the protection of intellectual property rights;

c.  consistency with the policy and country-specific priorities set forth in the most recent report of USTR under such section 182(a)(1); and

d.  support for holders of United States intellectual property rights and industries whose access to foreign markets is improperly restricted by intellectual property related issues.


Please cite as:  Monica Horten, How America could  impose IP sanctions on the EU,, 20 November 2011

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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