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Limitations and restrictions are not the same thing. They pave the way for a kind of Internet on demand.

This article was sent in to by Celia Blanco, a law graduate from Spain, and I'm publishing it because I think it provides some  helpful insights into  the Telecoms Package. It analyses the Telecoms Package, European Parliament revisions of 23 February (revised Harbour and Trautmann reports). In particular, it considers the differentiation between limitations and restrictons, and a possible interpretation of ‘internet on demand', which is not so far fetched when one understands what traffic management systems are capable of.


by Celia Blanco 

Limitations=management policies.  Limitations affect  everyone from the beginning, a priori, and Providers must/may inform about them. (This is transparency.) Providers may offer to users different packages  with different Internets (if you pay a certain amount, you can access the kind of content, services and applications, you choose what you want)

Reading  Amendment 45 of the Trautmann report (Art. 8 a. 2002/21) together  with Recital 22 (Amendment 5 of the Harbour report), there is an interpretation that users should be able to choose in a competitive market with transparent offerings.It does not say that each provider has to ensure that end users are able to access and distribute any content and to use any applications and services of their choice. Instead, it can be interpreted such that  it is the market which has to provide transparent offerings to allow the users to choose what content services and applicationsthey want to access, andtherefore, providers have to inform users of the limitations in the services they offer.

Restrictions= sanctions. A fortiori. Restrictions affect a specific individual and can only be imposed  following a

judicial review (Art. 8.4 (fb) 2002/21, Amendment 46 of the Trautmann report) when the users' fundamental rights to information (content) are affected.


*Cooperation  between Access providers and sectors interested in the promotion of lawful content = Internet on demand. A 3-strikes system will be not allowed, since  that would be a restriction (Amendment 46 Trautmann report) but access providers can limit (now legally) the content, services and applications that users can access. This will benefit access providers which can diversify their offers

and sectors interested in the promotion of lawful content which may cooperate to design those offers. That will result in  the promotion of lawful content to the detriment of content that is not lawful (but neither is it unlawful).

Webcasting is the new business for copyright holders and broadcasters (who may be  the same person),   but in the current Internet there are too many competitors. An Internet on demand where access providers collaborate and give access to lawful content it is beneficial for both (access and lawful content providers). Main access providers would offer a premium service where users can access the content that copyright holders would provide through the services and applications they decide.

Also if the offers are differentiated (for example, access to films, webcasting, music) content providers (collecting societies) may tax users with a levy for the use of the networks (as they have already tried, at least in Spain) and access providers may cooperate with them collecting it.

Access providers will be liable for the content they give access to, and since  they will be selecting the information (Art 12 Ecommerce Directive), they won't be mere conduits any more. Therefore,  they will want to collaborate with content providers to ensure they only give access to lawful content, service and applications.

 It is not sufficient  to  delete the  reference to lawful (content applications and services). The Directive should only speak about information and data. Limitations on access to information and data (which is what they really are) are restrictions to the fundamental right to send and receive information, and should be  prohibited.


Celia Blanco studied Law in Santiago de Compostela. She  holds a Masters Degree on Telecommunications and IT Law from Carlos III University in Madrid. She is currently collaborating with the P2P Foundation.

  For the full story of the Telecoms Package, see my book The Copyright Enforcement Enigma: Internet politics and the Telecoms Package



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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

Don't miss Iptegrity!  RSS/ Bookmark is the website of Dr Monica Horten. She is a policy analyst specialising in Internet governance & European policy, including platform accountability. She is a published author & Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on  Internet Freedom. She has worked on CoE, EU and UNDP funded projects in eastern Europe and the Caucasus. In a voluntary capacity, she has led UK citizen delegations to the European Parliament. She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012.

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