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The European Commission is consulting on blocking orders against websites, and on privacy rules which relate to graduated response / 3-strikes measures. Interested Internet users have just over 2 months left to respond.

Just before Christmas, on 22 December, the European Commission snuck out a Report on the IPR Enforcement directive (commonly known as IPRED). This is the Report from the Commission on the Application of Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of Intellectual Property rights. The Report is the first shot in a Consultation process which ends on 31st March.

The main goal is to build new measures for copyright enforcement on the Internet into EU law. That is unmistakeably clear when you read the text of the Report. File-sharing is one target. Search engines are another. Anyone selling online is a third target group.

It is also very evident that the Commission proposes to use ISPs and

network providers as their favoured method for going after those target groups. In that context, it discusses how they could build into EU law enforcement of copyright on the Internet via blocking orders. The review also has an - undeclared but obvious by the nature of the wording - intention towards some form of graduated response.

The tone of the review is emotive: ' the sheer volume and financial value of intellectual property rights infringement are [sic] alarming. One reason is the unprecedented increase in opportunities to infringe intellectual property rights offered by the Internet'.

'File-sharing of copyright-protected content ... has led many law-abiding citizens to commit massive infringements of copyright ... in the form of up-loading and disseminating protected content'.

What is very clear is the support of the Commission - DG Markt - for blocking injunctions. That means it supports the idea that courts could order ISPs to block websites, applications and services, on the basis of an allegation of copyright infringement. The Commission's IPRED report dwells on the nature of blocking injunctions, the rationale for them, and the different ways of enforcing them.

The European Commission is considering how ISPs can be made to block content, but, what is even more disturbing, it is floating the idea that search engines could also be served with such injunctions. Without a definition of a search engine, it could include Bit Torrent trackers and similar servers which do not host content but point people towards it.

DG Markt's other focal point is privacy law. It is does not, as far as I know, have any jurisdiction over privacy law, which is the remit of DG Justice under Commissioner Viviane Reding. But it may be seeking to apply more political pressure on Commissioner Reding, by soliciting industry views in this context. The obvious application for DG Markt of any change to privacy law, would be graduated response/3-strikes measures.

The debates begun during the Telecoms Package have not gone away, instead they have intensified. DG Markt's report on the IPR Enforcement directive should sound alarm bells for those who care about the Internet.

Report from the Commission on the Application of Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of Intellectual Property rights

Consultation on the Application of Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of Intellectual Property rights

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 (2011), IPRED alarm bells sound as EU Commission targets 'Net http://www.iptegrity.com 6 January 2011 .

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor, with expertise in online safety, technology and human rights. 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.

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