EU plans new measures to curb online piracy


The European Commission is considering a new set of measures that could cut web access for users of illegal file-sharing software, according to a draft policy paper on “Creative content online” obtained by EURACTIV.

The text recalls the importance of “compliance with national measures implementing the Copyright Directive“, citing as an example the Memorandum of Understanding between music and film producers, Internet service providers and the government signed in France on 23 November. The memorandum aims to set up a new authority “with powers to suspend or cut access to the web for those who illegally file-share”.

The Communication on “Creative content online in the Single Market” concedes that the best way to approach the issue of piracy would be to involve consumers as well. “It seems appropriate to instigate co-operation procedures between access and service providers, right holders and consumers”, says the document.

However, the Commission underlines that “piracy and unauthorised up- and downloading of copyrighted content remains a central concern”. Apart from the enforcement of legal rights and the search for improved cooperation from Internet service providers, other measures proposed involve the development of new legal offers to users and educational initiatives to raise awareness of the importance of copyright.

At stake is the future of a market that is estimated to be worth 8.3 billion euros by 2010 in the EU 25 and predicted to grow more than four times between 2005 and the end of the decade. According to European Commission figures, by 2010 online content will also make up about 20% of revenues for the music sector and 33% for video games.

The Commission currently lacks real legislative power on the issue, but can enforce its stance by involving the European Parliament and the European Council. A proposal to be adopted by these institutions is foreseen by mid-2008. In the meantime, Brussels has started a public debate by asking the sector’s stakeholders whether they are ready to consider the French way, based on enforcement, and whether they consider applying filtering measures to be an effective means of preventing online copyright infringements.

The Communication also deals with the distribution and availability of online content, proposing multi-national copyright licences and the interoperability of platforms providing legal content for download; a model at present developed exclusively for music.

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