EP Rapporteur wants to crack down on Internet users

Brussels, Feb 19, 2008 — Nicola Zingaretti, rapporteur on intellectual property rights enforcement in the European Parliament, is calling on the EU to take urgent action against “some internet users”, who in his view are engaging in “the increasingly systematic violation of copyright”. Zingaretti has asked the European Council to provide a time frame for discussion of the draft directive on criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rights. On 25 April 2007 the European Parliament adopted his report on the proposal, the draft directive is now awaiting discussion by the Council.

Zingaretti guided the draft through the European Parliament as Rapporteur. Then he had stated: “It is about punishing mafia-style criminals, not about jailing kids who download music from the Internet.”

FFII analyst Ante Wessels: “We have always warned that the definitions in this criminal law are badly drafted. And indeed, now the directive has passed parliament, the Rapporteur admits that the law is actually much broader than he has always claimed it is.”

The draft caused controversy earlier because a European Parliament adopted amendment was not incorporated in the consolidated text. The corrupted text will be published soon in the Official Journal of the European Union, according to Mr. Knudsen, Administrator of the Verification Group – A, Verification service, Secretariat of the European Parliament.

Ante Wessels concludes: “The Commission proposal is disproportional and the European Parliament left key concepts and definitions unacceptably vague. On top of that, democratic procedure is violated by leaving out an adopted amendment.”

Background Information

The claimed intent of the draft directive on criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRED2), is to fight piracy.

The original Commission proposal has been heavily criticized, almost all position papers written about the proposal characterized it as disproportional, and noted that it fails to make adequate distinctions between commercial piracy enterprises, legitimate/lawful activities undertaken by business competitors, or even the common activities of ordinary Europeans.

It should not be forgotten that in almost all cases, civil enforcement (rapid injunctions and damages) work better to protect intellectual property rights. In many countries the IP criminal law -although well developed- only plays a subordinate role in actual practice.

The directive as amended by the European Parliament raises a number of additional concerns because key concepts and definitions are left unacceptably vague, which amplifies the criticism that IPRED2 will be both disproportional and ineffective.


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About FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More than 1,000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights in data processing.

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