While the focus on anti-piracy measures has recently been on the legislation in France and the U.K., Europe-wide action is now firmly on the agenda.
The European Parliament today (Sept. 22) voted for the adoption of the Report on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property in the Internal Market.
The report calls on the European Commission to propose legislation that would lay down a framework for action by EU governments in tackling intellectual property infringement, online and offline. It is known as the Gallo Report, after its rapporteur (author) French MEP Marielle Gallo.
Although this is not legislation, its approval today – 328 votes for, 245 against and 81 abstentions – does mean that Michel Barnier, commissioner for internal market and services, can proceed with a proposal to be considered by member states for a European plan. This could well result in a Europe-wide graduated response to tackle Internet piracy.
The IFPI has welcomed the vote today. Although it is an early stage of the process, the positive result meant that alternative resolutions did not get passed that could have sent a far less emphatic or even negative message from the industry’s perspective, such as equating peer-to-peer activity with private copying.
“Today the Parliament sent a clear signal to the European Commission, and beyond, that a stronger, more coordinated approach is needed to promote and protect the rights of creative industries in Europe,” said CEO Frances Moore. “This is a timely and welcome message. Piracy is a major threat to jobs in Europe and it is a direct obstacle to legitimate enterprise in the music, book, film and other sectors. The Parliament has recognized that governments cannot stand by in the face of this threat. We applaud the Rapporteur, Marielle Gallo, and the Parliament for taking this stand.”
It also has an international impact: according to the IFPI, the RIAA has welcomed the vote as a measure that could have a positive influence on policy makers in the U.S. The far-reaching three-strikes legislation in France could also influence governments internationally as they watch its progress.
The introduction of anti-piracy measures in France and the U.K. gives the Europe-wide plan a head start, as European measures could emulate those countries’ approaches (although the U.K. is holding off on Internet account suspension until it has seen the impact of warning letters in 2011-2012).
The measures would potentially create an obligation for member states to ensure that ISPs cooperate on anti-piracy measures. A consultation is likely to conclude by the end of the year, followed by a proposal on the measures to be considered by member states from Barnier in summer next year.
Barnier has discussed the problem with Max Hole, COO of Universal Music Group International, Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr and Sony Music CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holtz.
Any European solution could be particularly beneficial to Spain, which has suffered a huge sales slump in the past decade, while it would enable German policy makers to take another look at data protection concerns that have stifled any moves to a graduated response system in Germany.
In calling for action against online copyright infringement, IFPI cited a March 2010 report by independent consultants Tera, backed by major trade unions, which showed the cost of not tackling piracy is projected to be more than 1.2 million lost jobs and over €240 billion ($321 billion) in lost retail revenues across the creative industries by 2015.