EU wants ISPs to police copyright breach

CIOL Bureau
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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: The European Commission wants internet service providers to help fight online copyright theft "at source", according to a Commission document seen by Reuters, though it does not say what it would expect of them.


The EU's executive wants to boost protection of intellectual property rights and believes internet service providers (ISPs) should play a role in policing it, according to a confidential Commission document dated April 13.

"The Commission will propose amendments to the (IPR) Enforcement Directive in order to create a framework allowing, in particular, combating infringements of IPRs via the internet more effectively," the document said.

"These amendments should tackle the infringements at their source and, to that end, foster cooperation of intermediaries, such as internet service providers," it added.


EU Internal Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier will publish his plans on intellectual property rights on Tuesday, as part of the Commission's strategy to boost growth and create jobs.

Moves to draw ISPs into policing copyright could be difficult to achieve, industry experts said.

"The term 'at their source' has no legal meaning and is a bit empty," said lawyer Alain Strowel, who specialises in intellectual property rights at Covington & Burling in Brussels.


Copyright levies

According to the Commission document, the Commission also plans to appoint a mediator on copyright levies on electronic goods such as MP3 players, printers and smartphones, an issue on which the private sector failed to agree last year.

"(The mediator will be) tasked with exploring possible approaches to improve the administration of levies, specifically the type of equipment that is subject to levies, the setting of tariff rates with a view to harmonising the methodology used to impose levies, and the interoperability of the various national systems," the document said.


Talks between makers of electronic goods and collecting societies representing authors and performers to reduce copyright levies collapsed last year, prompting some calls for the Commission to take the lead.

"It is not clear that such a mediator will be able to move things forward, but it is good to have a try. As you know, the issue of levies has been on the table since 2002, but with no concrete outcome so far," Strowel said.