Big tech accountability? Read the backstory to today's policy debates here on Iptegrity.

The European Commission  threatens to  handbag* all speakers who go over  3-minutes at a public hearing on the IPR Enforcement directive (also known as IPRED).   A key focus of the hearing will be Internet copyright enforcement and peer-to-peer file-sharing.  What will the Commission's new, ex-IFPI, head of copyright have to say? 


Following the demise of its secret ‘stakeholder dialgoue', the European  Commission has   announced a public hearing on intellectual property enforcement in the digital environment.

 The  hearing  - on the enforcement of intellectual property rights: Challenges posed by the digital environment  - is the final  part of DG Markt's consultation exercise regarding the IPR Enforcement directive (IPRED). The Commission's objective is to obtain further feedback to its plans for revision of this directive.

 According to the Commission's Communication on the IPRED  review, the main focus of the policy

agenda  is  Internet enforcement, and  the Internet will be the main discussion topic for the hearing.  Challenges in this context, means how to stop peer-to-peer file-sharing, and how to get the ISPs to do the dirty work for the rights-holders, in enforcing copyright online. 


The head of  intellectual property policy at the European Commission, Margot  Fröhlinger,  will be chairing the discussion. Potentially over two hours of time has been allocated for stakeholder comments. But anyone who wants to speak must register beforehand, and will only be allowed to speak  3 minutes.


We should therefore ask whether the Commission is really willing to listen to anyone other than a few favoured lobbyists, and whether the public interest will be considered? 


It  is likely that the three-minute limit will be enforced, and one does have to question whether the Commission will enable a balance   of  interests to be heard. In particular, I do wonder whether she will permit citizens groups to speak  at all.


In 2008, I attended a hearing at the beginning of the Telecoms Package with a similar 3-minute rule, and the gavel came down swiftly on head of the telecoms lobby group, ETNO, when he tried to speak for longer.


It was ETNO who brought down Mrs Fröhlinger's  recent ( and secret) Stakeholder Diablogue talks.


Observers will be keenly interested to see  Margot Fröhlinger's number two in copyright,   Maria Martin Prat and any presentations by her will be closely watched.

Ms Martin-Prat,  formerly worked as Director of Legal Policy for   IFPI, the  music industry lobby group , and was recently appointed as  head of the European Commission's Copyright Unit.  She  replaces Tilman Lueder who has apparently left the Commission.


Ms Martin Prat's appointment to head the copyright unit is highly controversial and  her ability to act impartially has been highlighted. As a member of the Commission services, she is a civil servant, and is duty bound to show no favoritism, however, her former connection with IFPI does raise question marks and will certainly test her integrity to the full.


My first question is - which brand of handbag does she  carry?



Public Hearing   Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property

rights:  Challenges posed by the digital environment

Brussels, 7 June 2011

Room VM 3, Rue Van Maerlant 2, EESC, 1040 Brussels


*To handbag means to treat insensitively, and it is thought to have originated from the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who frequently ‘handbagged' the male members of her Cabinet.



The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2011) Commission IPR hearing  to strike out speakers at 3 minutes 10 May 2011

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.






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About Iptegrity is the website of Dr Monica Horten.

I am a tech policy specialist, published author, post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Currently working on UK Online Safety Bill.

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