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

The European Union held a seminar today on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Hot on the discussion list was what to do about those organisations involved in online selling of counterfeit goods and services (for which read that they are targetting eBay and peer-to-peer file-sharing).

The meeting was held behind closed doors but they obviously could not resist revealing just a little of what they were doing.


Some 200 people were invited to the meeting  which was hosted in Stockholm by the Swedish Presidency. The press release from the European Commission did its best to position counterfeiting and piracy as a

moral, health and economic hazard, using language worthy of the famous quote by Jack Valenti, then chairman of the Motion Picture Association (MPA), who likened the video-cassette to the Boston Strangler.  According to the European Comission press statement , online counterfeiting and piracy  is " an affliction that is  bringing criminality ever closer to our doors. It destabilises our societies and  threatens public safety and jobs. More than this it places our hard earned money into  the hands of criminals who have no conscience about using it to fund other forms of crime, including drugs and pornography".


 It hardly comes as a surprise to those who have followed the development of the Telecoms Package, that  the Commission  says " there is an acute need to support enforcement efforts through practical non legislative means." The recommended solution  is "voluntary arrangements to tackle concrete problems such as the sale of counterfeit goods and services over the internet."


It does seem that  the outgoing Commissioner, Charlie McReevy, is somewhat  over-egging of the problem and one must question how helpful this really is, outside the closed and narrow interest group in that room in Stockholm. However, the new Commissioner taking over this dossier is a Frenchman so be prepared for the heavy tactics to continue.  


The Swedish Presidency official statement says the seminar  will be discussing ‘legislation as well as other measures'.


A report on the German IT website Heise Online   says they will be discussing IPRED2, the IPR enforcement directive proposing criminal measures, which was stalled in the EU. And, according to Heise, ACTA - the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement - is also on the agenda. Leaked documents related to ACTA suggest that ISP liability for copyright is being proposed, as well as a whole basket of other measures against online users.

It's not a coincidence that  MPA is calling for "practical secondary liability regimes" within ACTA,  to "motivate" ISPs into such co-operation ( See Michael Geist's blog ). 



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 (2009) EU: Beware "voluntary" cooperation on IP  ,  15 December  2009. 


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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