Report from Brussels 

The controversial Amendment 138 has set EU officials searching for the rule books as they attempt to work out how to re-introduce it in the Second Reading of the Telecoms Package.

Amendment 138 states that sanctions cannot be applied against Internet users without a prior judicial ruling. It positions itself against measures such as graduated response or 3 strikes, where it is proposed to sanction users without going to court.

It was dropped without explanation by the Council of Ministers in their political agreement last November, but it is understood that MEP Guy Bono plans to re-introduce it. The rules for MEPs to table amendments in Second Reading are different from the first reading, where 40 signatures are required. It seems that even

those who work deep within the corridors of the EU offices are unclear how to do it.

What is clear is that Amendment 138 has created a political sticking point. Any action by the EU on copyright enforcement and graduated response measures cannot proceed while it lies in the balance.

Part of the difficulty relates to the intervention last year by French President Sarkozy, which forced the European Commission to support Amendment 138 and pushed it up the ladder of politically important points in the Telecoms Package. It has come to signify a European Parliament position against graduated response, and specifically against cutting users off the Internet as a sanction to support copyright enforcement, backing up the position taken with the Fjellner-Rocard amendment in the Bono report last April.




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