The Closing of the Net  "original and valuable"  Times Higher Education

The European Parliament is fighting again about copyright and the Internet. The Gallo report is attempting to get the Parliament to vote for a position that will open the way for stronger copyright enforcement measures,  in particular  against Internet users. The vote is tomorrow (Tuesday June 1st). 

 ***The vote was today in the Legal Affairs committee and it appears that they supported the rapporteur, which is not good news for Internet users. ***


Just 6 months after the Telecoms Package concluded, the European Parliament is again divided about copyright and the Internet. The issue is copyright enforcement, in respect of P2P file-sharing. As we saw in the Telecoms Package, the content industry is trying to get the Parliament to vote in  support of 3-strikes and other enforcement intiatives. The Parliament, better informed this time,  is fighting back.

 This time there is no legislation at stake. The argument is taking place in the context of a non-legislative report by the French, Sarkozy-ite MEP Marielle Gallo. However, non-legislative reports are used in the European Parliament to establish

a position on a policy, and they may be followed through at a later stage when legislation on that policy appears.

What we have here  in the Gallo report is a group of lobbyists for the copyright industries once again trying to force the Parliament's hand on  copyright. And, once again, they are trying to do so in a way that the Parliament will not notice until it is too late, using their tried-and-tested technique of hiding their intentions in obtuse, difficult language. 


However, various MEPs who are opposed to Mme Gallo's deceptive language, have tabled amendments to counter her position. They want to keep the Internet open, and protect the fundamental rights of Internet users.  The leading MEPs in this camp are Stavros Lambrinidis, Christian Engstrom, and Francoise Castex. 



Here are a few examples using  Marielle Gallo's original text, and amendments to her report: 



Amendment 90, paragraph  17 from the rapporteur, Marielle Gallo: 

17. Regrets that the Commission has not mentioned or
discussed the delicate problem of on-line piracy, which
constitutes a major aspect of this worldwide
phenomenon in the age of digitisation of our societies,
particularly the issue of the balance between free
access to the Internet and the measures to be taken to
combat this scourge effectively
urges the Commission
to broach this problem in its IPR strategy;

She is trying to get the European Parliament to agree that the policy balance is between 'free access' to the Internet and tough measures against P2P - and this looks like an obtuse reference to 3-strikes measures. 


Marielle Gallo Paragraph 17a (new) 

17 bis. souligne que la lutte contre le piratage
numérique ne remet pas en cause l'exercice des droits
fondamentaux des citoyens tels que la protection de la
vie privée
. Rappelle à ce titre que la protection de la
propriété intellectuelle constitue un droit
fondamental conformément à l'article 17 de la Charte
des Droits fondamentaux de l'UE;


This is trying to get the Parliament not to oppose 3-strikes and other measures.  What is says is that the 'fight against piracy' does not prejudice the fundamental rights of citizens, such as the right to privacy. And it adds that protection of intellectual property is also a fundamental right under the newly ratified Charter of Fundamental Rights. 

The first part is a reference to 3-strikes.  The language is typical for a lobbyist who wants to disguise the true intent of the amendment. The amendment has all the hallmarks of one  written by a lobbyist.

The second part is correct but - and this is important -  only individuals have fundamental rights. Companies do not, and companies own most of the IP which is being fought over.


Arlene McCarthy, (UK, Labour) 

Amendment 9 

Aa. whereas the European Union, as a member of the World Trade Organisation, is bound by the Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); whereas EU Member States are thereby committed to the adoption and implementation of effective measures against all infringements of IPRs,

What she has forgotten is that TRIPS does also call for measures to be proportionate, and due process must be followed.


Arlene McCarthy, Amemdment 24

Fb. whereas the creative sector should continue to
develop models enabling access to creative content
online which offer improved and cost effective
choices to consumers, including access to unlimited
subscription services; whereas the development of
these legal services is inhibited by the growth of
unlawfully uploaded content online,


This is trying to get the European Parliament to agree with the content industry view that "piracy" is the cause of all their woes. 


Download the DRAFT REPORT on enhancing the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the internal market: Committee on Legal Affairs 

 More commentary on the Gallo report from La Quadrature du Net

Gallo report voting list, with amendments marked up,  from La Quadrature du Net  


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)  Copyright fights reprise in the European Parliament 31 May 2010 







The Copyright Enforcement Enigma tells the story of the 2009 Telecoms Package and how the copyright industries tried to hijack it.

'accurate and absorbing account of the story of the Telecoms Package' -Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology

'...a must read for those interested in knowing in depth about copyright enforcement and Internet.' -Journal of Intellectual Property Rights.  

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

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