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Copyright: EU Commission Invokes Crisis to Stick to Repression

Paris, 16 April 2013 — The EU Commission is not yet ready to change course on copyright policy. With the release of two new roadmap documents1 on copyright, patent and trademark policy, the EU body who negotiated ACTA decides to stick to the status quo. And ironically invokes the crisis to urge for more of the same broken policies.

The Commission refuses to see that sharing of culture and knowledge is what can spur collaboration, foster innovation, and establish sovereignty over informational resources. Instead it calls in its new roadmap documents on the IPRED directive for the kind of policies that pushed thousands of EU citizens to take to the streets against ACTA last year, and which are already undermining fundamental rights online and holding back innovation.

After the ACTA debate, the Commission is aware of the copyright dogmas' growing lack of legitimacy. So it plays it soft and cautiously does not refer to privatised enforcement or privacy-invasive measures to protect the copyright industry's old business models. But in no way it is breaking away from repression. Demonstrating a deep misunderstanding of the relation between knowledge sharing and sustainable innovation, the Commission takes the ongoing economic and political crisis as an excuse to advocate for tougher copyright and patent enforcement. “The sub-optimal valuation of IPRs ['intellectual property rights'] is undermining the possibility for innovative and creative SMEs within the European Union to grow and create the sustainable, high quality jobs that the EU requires, in particular in these recessionary times” the Commission argues in one its roadmap documents.

It is irresponsible for the Commission to refuse to acknowledge the potential of more flexible copyright and patent regimes to foster innovation, resilience and empowerement in communities across the EU in these times of crisis.

“These times are troubled times indeed. They require policies aimed at promoting the circulation of culture and knowledge, not service to rent-seekers. The Commission remains blind to the failure of its policies based on restrictions and control over knowledge. This approach has only led to undermining political and social rights of citizens, both online and offline. It is making our economies more rigid, less prone to innovation. We need to resist the harmful influence of the countless lobbies from the media, telecoms and other powerful sectors seeking to stick to an outdated status quo, and implement new models delivering a better resilience through decentralization and sharing.” concluded Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

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