Will Europe let dogmatists write the future of copyright?

Paris, Apr. 13th 2010 - The Gallo report on "IPR enforcement"1 is currently under heavy political pressure in the European Parliament. Some constructive amendments have been tabled, proposing to reconsider the ongoing "war on sharing" led by the cultural industries. However, these amendments are being opposed by the French rapporteur Marielle Gallo, a member of Nicolas Sarkozy's party. Her dogmatic approach in favor of copyright repression is unfortunately supported by some members of the Socialist & Democrats (S&D) group. As the date of the vote2 on the report gets closer, the Member of the European Parliament face a crucial choice regarding the future of society.

(CC)BySa La Quadrature du Net

The draft Gallo report on "Enforcement of intellectual property rights in the internal market" contains the entertainment industry's wishlist for the future of copyright policy: extra-judicial sanctions turning internet service providers into a private copyright police, harsher criminal sanctions paving the way for the revival of the IPRED2 directive, etc. These proposals are very similar to the provisions found in leaked ACTA drafts.

Unsurprisingly, the rapporteur, Marielle Gallo is a French MEP from Nicolas Sarkozy's party3. Her report reflects the dogmatic and repressive approach pushed by Nicolas Sarkozy through the HADOPI law ("three strikes") in France and put forward at the EU level during the French presidency in the Fall of 2008.

However, as a first analysis underlines, encouraging amendments4 have been tabled by Françoise Castex and numerous other MEPs from across the political spectrum5. These amendments radically oppose the draft report by limiting the scope of enforcement to intentional for-profit copyright infringement, or aim at guaranteeing the right to a fair trial and fundamental freedoms. They also call on European institutions to move away from the spiral of repression by looking into alternative proposals.

Interestingly, part of the S&D group is now dissociating from their colleague Mrs. Castex. Some MEPs are now open to a compromise with rapporteur Gallo. These include members from the UK (Arlene Mc Carthy), where a dreadful Digital Economy Bill was hastily passed after superficial parliamentary debates6, and from Spain, where the government has made worrying proposals regarding Net neutrality while introducing repressive copyright related-legislation at the national level7. Will the socialist group favour dogmatic repression?

"The Gallo report will be key to preparing the future vision of copyright in Europe. If the rapporteur's version prevails, the whole EU could follow the repressive policies adopted by some Members States, like France or the UK. The report could pave the way for the revival of the dangerous IPRED2 directive and the transposition of ACTA in European law. But the amended report could also promote an alternative vision by embracing the new cultural ecosystem and moving forward instead of combatting widespread social practices while neglecting fundamental freedoms. Let's hope that Nicolas Sarkozy's archaic repressive dogmatism will be duly opposed in the European Parliament", concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.