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The European Commission is struggling over a move to formalise the process for taking down web content. This is the so-called 'Notice and Action', set out in the review of the IPR Enforcement directive (IPRED). It's a highly controversial measure and post-ACTA the Commission is playing its own internal game of chicken in terms of how to move forward. From what can be ascertained, there is a directive on Notice and Action has been prepared, but internal wrangling is causing it to stall.

'Notice and Action' is the name given to the procedure whereby intermediaries such as ISPs or web hosts or payment companies, could be asked to either take down content, make it invisible, or prevent payments to the owners.

It's believed that the draft Notice and Action directive is circulating somewhere in the inter-stitial processes of the Commission. The text could be expected to clarify matters such as the responsibilities of hosts, content owners, and those reuqesting the action, as well as the procedures for conveying information between the relevant parties.

The measure is understood to be in response to the recent consultation exercise conducted by the Commission, and to originate from DG Internal Market under Commissioner Michel Barnier. However, it's difficult call for the Commission to make.

On the one hand, the European Commission wants to address the uncertainty that currently exists for businesses and users, because there is no formal procedure for notice and takedown in Europe. The Commission wants to formalise and structure the process by bringing out out a directive, and in this regard it has some unexpected supporters. On the other hand, with only a year to go until the European elections, the Commission is concerned about the possibility for negative publicity over new copyright proposals. It does not want a repeat of the ACTA street demostrations, with the kind of political pressure that they managed to bring.

That's why until now, it has been fiddling around with various inter-industry talks, where it can wash its hands of the outcome. However, there are those who believe that the Commission should take responsibility by putting forward a structured proposal of its own.

The political indecision is said to go as high as the Commission President Jose-Manuel Barosso himself, who is understood to be against the move, along with, possibly, Information Society Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

European Digital Rights (EDRi), not usually a supporter of DG Markt, has called on the Commission to show leadership, taking the view that legislation would provide greater legal certainty for all stakeholders. In EDRi's opinion, this is preferable to unaccountable back-room discussions, billed as self-regulation or 'voluntary' talks.

This is an original article from Iptegrity.com 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 iptegrity.com. Media and Academics - please cite as Monica Horten, 2013, Will the EU Act on Notice and Action? in www.iptegrity.com 28 May 2013. Commercial users - please contact me.

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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.