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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. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ 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 , http://www.iptegrity.com 15 December 2009.

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor: online safety, technology and human rights. In April 2024, I was appointed as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on online safety and empowerment of content creators and users. 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.