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Questions for the new European Commissioners

Paris, December 16th, 2009 - 2 weeks after launching a consultation, la Quadrature du Net is submitting to the European Parliament a set of questions to be asked to the Commissioners designate.

They cover a broad range of issues that are essential to people's right to access a free and open Internet. All these topics should be a core component of the upcoming European digital agenda.

All questions directly relate to the portfolio of Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for the Digital Agenda. Other Commissioners designate whose Directorate-General are competent for specific issues are indicated below.

Net Neutrality

Joaquín Almunia, Commissioner for Competition

  • According to you, what is the importance of the principle of network neutrality? Specifically, do you think there is a need for the European Union to mandate this principle to both fixed and wireless Internet Service Providers? As a Commissioner, what steps would you take to enforce the principle of Net neutrality in order to avoid restrictions of access to online resources imposed by operators?
  • What importance do you attach to preserving the limited liability of technical intermediaries (such as Internet Service Providers and hosting services)?

Access to the Net, Internet blocking and Fundamental Rights

Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

  • What can be the expectations for European consumers regarding their right to access the Internet? From a legal point of view, do you think it would make sense for the EU legal order to ensure that no restrictions to people's Internet access can be imposed without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities?
  • Does the Commissioner agree that Internet blocking is causing major problems for democracy and the rule of Law in the EU and across the globe? In your view, are such measures an efficient way to enforce criminal law?

ACTA

Karel de Gucht, Commissioner for Trade

  • What are your views on the ongoing negotiation process of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)? Do you think that this agreement should include provisions regarding non-commercial file-sharing? Do you think that this agreement should increase the liability of technical intermediaries for the transmission or storage of copyrighted material?

Copyright

Michel Barnier, Commissioner for the Internal Market

  • Should copyright enforcement policies be put in place through voluntary agreements between rights holders and Internet Service Providers? Specifically, what do you see as the dangers to free speech and privacy of copyright enforcement policies be put in place through voluntary agreements between rights holders and Internet Service Providers? What importance do you attach to preserving the limited liability of technical intermediaries (such as Internet Service Providers and hosting services)?
  • At WIPO, the United States recently stated that copyright exceptions are important for access to information, cultural expression and ideas and to ensure full participation in a democratic society1. Currently, the EU framework has no mandatory exceptions apart from technical purpose. Do you think that current exceptions to copyright in EU legislation are adapted to today's technologies? For instance, which initiative would you undertake to increase European citizen's access to cultural content on the Internet? Will you stand for a EU-wide compulsory exception for education and research (in the sense of an exception that must be implemented in every Member state)? Would it be reasonable to move towards creating a statutory license to allow the non-commercial exchange of cultural goods over the network, such as the so-called “cultural flat rate”, or “contribution créative”?
  • How would you help increase the diversity of works accessible online? How do you think the EU can further support incumbent and innovative actors on the online cultural market?
  • Is the EU's push in favor of copyright terms extension something that you intend to pursue as a Commissioner?  What is your opinion on the effect that retroactive term extensions may have on the market for cultural works? Does it increase the incentive to invest in new creations, does it have the opposite effect, or does it have no market influence at all?
  • Do you think that a unified patent litigation system shoult be set-up in the EU? If such a system were to be put in place, do you think it is necessary that a higher court be granted the power to review decisions and to set patent-related case law?
  • 1. See the statement by the US delegation on December 15th, 2009, at the World Intellectual Property Organization's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights is meeting in Geneva regarding a proposed treaty intended to increase access to books and other information in formats accessible to the world's blind, visually impaired and print disabled citizens. : http://www.uspto.gov/ip/global/copyrights/wipo_sccr_19session.pdf
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