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Gallo Report: Copyright & patent dogmatism at its worst at the European Parliament

Brussels, January 29th, 2010 - The draft1 of the Gallo2 report on strengthening the enforcement of "intellectual property rights" (IPR) in the Internal Market has been presented in the JURI commission of the European Parliament. This initiative report3 is a response to a communication of the Commission on the same topic, which La Quadrature has already strongly condemned4. The document has only one merit: it provides a perfect example of the worst kind of IPR dogmatism.

This new draft report contains so many unsubstantiated claims, misrepresentations, amalgams and horrendous recommendations that it is not possible to list them all:

  • The key strategy, already criticized by knowledgeable Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all political groups, is to identify counterfeiting of physical goods with online piracy, and in particular non-commercial file sharing. The report explicitly asks the Commission "to submit a legislative proposal or to amend existing legislation, particularly Directive 2004/48/EC, so as to upgrade the Community legal framework in this field on the basis of national experiences" (read three-strike laws and their privately enforced equivalents, criminalization of the provision of filesharing tools).
  • The report alleges a connection between organized crime and counterfeiting (a fact) and piracy (an absurd notion when relating to non-commercial activities). Similarly, it confuses patent and trademark infringements of drugs with the trade of fake drugs (which is of course fraudulent and severely endangers consumers).
  • The report criticizes the wisdom of the Commission who - during Nellie Kroes' hearing in front of the Parliament - hinted that the IPRED2 directive would not be re-introduced. Mrs. Gallo and Mrs. McCarthy (known for her past and unsuccessful pro-software patent action) want the criminalization of inciting and abetting non-commercial sharing back on the legislative agenda, together with criminal sanctions for patent infringements and non-commercial copyright infringements (that is when they do not exist already).
  • The report goes as far as proposing to brainwash children in order to deter filesharing, through communication campaigns.
  • The report calls to "further the negotiations" on the horrendous ACTA, a still secret international agreement that could radically expand the powers of rights holders over the whole Internet.
  • Despite a mention of "consumers", there isn't the smallest indication that the rapporteur is aware of the dangers of excessive IPR protection and its brutal enforcement for innovation and creativity.

"The report is such a caricature of copyright and patent dogmatism that it is almost impossible to amend so as to make it acceptable. MEPs who want to achieve an innovation-friendly European Union in which citizens' rights are respected should reject it. At the very least, they must ensure that all mentions of "digital piracy" are removed from the text. Criminalizing kids who share music and films as harshly as the counterfeiters of luxury products or the producers of fake medecine is absurd and totally unacceptable", says Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and coordinator of La Quadrature du Net.

"Mrs. Gallo has just replaced Mr. Toubon as the head of the JURI commitee working group on authors' rights. Instead of taking a fresh look at this complex issues and admitting the failure of fifteen years of unjustified extension and hardening of IPR enforcement, she is endorsing it blindly and calls for more of the same doomed policies", concludes Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net.