EU Politicians Snub European Commission: Do Not See IP Protection As Key To Internal Security Strategy
from the ACTA-backfires dept
One of the most dishonest aspects of ACTA was its attempt to equate genuinely dangerous products like fake medicines with totally harmless ones like unauthorized digital copies. Fortunately, that’s such an absurd equivalence that more and more people have voiced their concerns over it — including the Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, who cited it as one reason why they would be voting against ACTA:
ACTA wrongly bundles together too many different types of IPR enforcement under the same umbrella, treating physical goods and digital services in the same way. We believe they should be approached in separate sectoral agreements, and following a comprehensive and democratically debated mandate and impact assessment.
EDRI points out that the European Commission has just suffered a major defeat at the hands of the European Parliament thanks to this lazy kind of coupling in its proposed “Internal Security Strategy” (ISS) for Europe:
In a piece of what the Commission appears to have believed to be a piece of masterful political syllogism, it explained in its Internal Security Strategy (adopted at the end of 2010) that dangerous counterfeit goods are a threat for human health. These counterfeiting offences are infringements of intellectual property rights (IPR). “Piracy” is also an infringement of intellectual proprety rights. Consequently, the fight against “counterfeiting and piracy” must be included in the EU’s Internal Security Strategy.
This is part of the wider strategy, as seen in ACTA, to treat all IPR as if it were the same, with dangerous medicines being considered as important as unauthorised downloading and vice versa. The obvious problem, as has become obvious in the ACTA, is that treating serious and trivial infringements as if they were of equal importance will inevitably result in either the serious infringement being treated as if it were trivial or vice versa.
But something that might have been simply waved through before ACTA has now been met with skepticism:
The European Parliament, however, far more sensitive now to the questionable approach of the European Commission to intellectual property rights as a result of the ACTA discussions, recognised this crude attempt to push its so far unsuccessful approach to an even higher level of hysteria. Whatever else one can say about downloading a song without authorisation, the number of deaths that it is likely to cause is, we believe, comparatively low.
As a result, and by a huge majority, the members of the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the ISS that includes the following major slap-down for the European Commission:
…it does not appear fully justified or appropriate to take action in the field of the enforcement of intellectual property rights – a matter which is part of a specific in-depth debate – within the framework of the ISS;
That is a noteworthy refusal, and suggests that ACTA’s attempt to lump online sharing with counterfeit medicines, and to make them subject to the same severe civil and even criminal sanctions, has backfired badly. It might be too much to take this ISS snub as an indication of what will happen when the European Parliament votes on ACTA later this summer, but it certainly suggests a new-found wariness in this area.