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Copyright Talibans are after the European Parliament

Brussels, March 22nd, 2010 - With the current debates surrounding the Gallo Report on "Intellectual Property Rights" (IPR) enforcement1 and rumours about an imminent revival of the IPR criminal enforcement directive (IPRED2), a holy war is taking place in the European Parliament. Members of the Parliament are being flooded with false figures and statistics from the entertainment industries' intensive lobbying. They are also being heavily pressured by the French authorities. Will the European Parliament hear the cries of the Copyright Talibans and renounce to protect EU citizens fundamental freedoms?

Lately, the corridors of the European Parliament have been crawling with more copyright lobbyists than usual. Their objective: to ensure that the amendments seeking to alter the substance of the dogmatic Gallo2 report on IPR enforcement will be rejected in committee. Anything contradicting their faith should be avoided. They claim that evil "pirates" are using the Internet to kill their profits and are ready to do anything - including infringing on fundamental freedoms - to stop file-sharers.

To back their faith, the Copyright Talibans always sing the same canticles: Last week, a new "study" by TERA consultants was sent to the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to "demonstrate" that file-sharing will result in impressive job losses in the European Union. As usual, the methodology is plainly wrong, and the Social Science Research Council has already published a document criticizing it. The TERA numbers are based on the "lost sale" myth that assumes that every download is equivalent to a lost sale (ask any 15 year-old downloading hundreds of movies if he would have bought hundreds of DVDs!). The study also ignores the fact that if it is true that some sectors in the industry suffer losses because of file-sharing, then the money is simply transferred to other activities3 that are probably more useful for EU economic and social wealth. But now, dozens of independent studies4 - including from the OECD, IPSOS, the Canadian Department of Industry and other academics as well as governmental sources - show a neutral or positive economic impact of file-sharing on the creative sector.

Apparently, the French government has chosen to side with the copyright extremists. It is already notorious for having passed a law (HADOPI) overturned by the constitutional court because it restricted the fundamental freedom of expression and circumvented judicial due process. At the same time, when it held the EU Council Presidency, the French authorities defended dangerous provisions regarding digital content in the "Telecoms Package", pushed by the lobbies of copyright fundamentalists. Last week, it sent a note to MEPs advising them to oppose any amendment to the Gallo report showing some common sense. For the French government, dealing separately with physical counterfeited goods on the one hand and non-for-profit online filesharing on the other is not an option. Likewise, the document explains that exploring alternative solutions to the absurd and dangerous repression, which has constantly failed for the last ten years, should be avoided.

Will the European Parliament yield to the intimidation of the obscurantists, dismissing scientific methodology, widespread social uses, and even fundamental freedoms and democratic process5? Or will the Parliament show its independence and commitment to use digital technologies to transform our democracies? Look for the answers soon, in the JURI committee.

Resources

  • Dogmatic IPR enforcement fails to address the challenges of the Internet-based creative economy - La Quadrature's response to the European Commission's communication on “Enhancing the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the internal market”.
  • Creative Content in the Digital Age: Reasserting the Rights of the Public - La Quadrature's response to the European Commission's consultation regarding "Online Creative Content".
  • The Creative Contribution - Proposal by La Quadrature's co-founder Phillipe Aigrain.
AttachmentSize
Piracy and Jobs in Europe - An SSRC Note on Methods.pdf161.47 KB
Comments_by_French_government_GALLO.doc83 KB
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