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EU Rejects Call to Disconnect Illegal File Sharers (P2P)

Posted: 11th Apr, 2008 By: MarkJ
In news that could give the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) a headache, the European Parliament has voted to "recommend" that people taking part in illegal file-sharing (P2P) of copyrighted material NOT be criminalised, unless they profit from it.

Naturally it follows that the European Parliament does not want to see related consumers disconnected from the Internet under a "Three-Strikes" style system either (see our 'To Ban or Not to Ban (Illegal File Sharers)' article for more). However, the vote is not legally binding and won't have much of an impact in the UK:

"The vote shows that MEPs want to strike a balance between the interests of rights holders and those of consumers, and that big measures like cutting off internet access shouldn't be used," said a spokeswoman for the European Parliament after the vote.

The amendment was added to the so-called Bono Report on the Cultural Industries. This was written by French MEP Guy Bone to inform forthcoming European parliament policy that would encourage growth in the region's creative industries.

The amendment called on the EC and its member nations to "avoid adopting measures conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness, such as the interruption of internet access."

The BBC News Online item notes that the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has been quick to criticise the move. Frances Moore, IFPI Executive Vice President, said:

"Many of the recommendations in this Report stress the need to protect intellectual property as a driver of growth in the creative sector. The Report also calls on the European Commission and Member States to provide the necessary resources to ensure that intellectual property is respected and protected.

However, one badly drafted, rushed through amendment was adopted which is in contradiction to the rest of the text. If the aim of the Report is to protect creative content, including in the online environment, we should be looking at all options available in the fight against copyright theft. Instead, this amendment suggested discarding certain options before there is even a proper debate.

We should not allow this last-minute amendment to take away from the overall value of the Cultural Industries Report. We look forward to a full discussion in the European Parliament in the coming months on how best to address copyright theft online.
"
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