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

 The European Commission  has confirmed that is is looking at a  Europe-wide approach to intellectual property enforcement on the Internet. In light of its  ACTA defeat, the Commission  is being deliberately ambiguous as to the nature of the measures under consideration. But could it mean pan-European web blocks?

 The new EU position has emerged just as a public consultation has closed. In an opaque ‘road map’ for enforcement policy, the European Commission has indicated that cross-border  enforcement has  been highlighted in responses from external organisations. The Commission clarifies that  ‘cross-border’ enforcement is linked in its mind to  the Internet,   which has no borders. 

 Although that may seem illogical, in Commission-speak it means that the Internet  carries intangible goods and services across borders, and therefore enforcing protection of intellectual property at any given geographic border, is not possible.

In other words,  the Commission is  trying to say that all European countries should have the same IPR enforcement measures, implemented in the same way.

That is exactly what the copyright industries want. And, if it were any other industry, it might seem completely logical.

 Of course, this is copyright and in that context, a consistent implementation of IPR  enforcement measures might well mean EU-wide 3 strikes measures. Or some kind of the pan-European web blocking.

 The roadmap hints at ‘fast track procedures’.  Fast-track measures  could include blocking  injunctions that can be obtained quickly, without a long court process.

There is an indication that such fast-tracking could be presented as a way to help out small to medium size businesses (SMEs).  The paradox is that fast tracking will be a great help to large corporate businesses, who want to sue lots of small infringers.

 Fast tracking will be of little help to small businesses who have been harmed by  large corporates for infringing or stealing their designs. A friend of mine  is trying to take legal action in just such a case. She already has a lawyer’s bill of many thousands of pounds, and no fast-track service would help her.

 The European Commission is only too aware of the incentiary nature of such cross-border, fast-track  proposals, and seems to be saying nothing more  for the moment.

The timing for the IPR roadmap is unclear. The Commission has to go through all the responses in detail before it make any further statements. Given the length of the questionnaire, that may take some time.

 Ultimately, the outcome will be determined by the internal politics. The Commission has already said that legislative proposals are not expected until next year.  (See EU puts IPR enforcement on the back burner). We may see various  ideas floated, and there will be ongoing consultations. But I still think there is a fair chance that any serious legislation  will be pushed to   the other side of the European elections.

 More comment here from La Quadrature du Net

 This is an original article from and reflects research that I have carried out. If you refer to it or to its content,  please cite my name as the  author, and provide a link back to  Media and Academics – please cite as Monica Horten, EU puts fast-track IPR enforcement on the map ,  22  April 2013,  in  Commercial users - please contact me.




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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