IPRED2, the European Union’s second intellectual property enforcement directive, is going to the vote at the end of this month. The European Parliament’s committee on legal affairs, JURI, will be voting on several amendments to this mammoth bill which threaten to turn IP infringement from a civil offence into a criminal one. Your MEP needs to know now why this is a bad idea.
The FFII are calling IPRED2 “The Prosecution Paradise Directive”:
“All over Europe piracy and counterfeiting of ‘intellectual property rights’ are already prosecutable (TRIPS art 61). The Criminal Measures IP Directive adds disproportionality. The European Commission proposal is not limited to piracy. All commercial scale infringements will be crimes, the proposal criminalises IPR disputes that are essentially of a civil nature and occur between legitimate commercial enterprises. Even untested rights, which may soon evaporate in a civil court cases, become grounds for prosecution. And the rights holders may assist the police.”
The Open Rights Group has written this letter to all the UK MEPs sitting on JURI to express its concern at the proposed directive.
But we need your help too. Please take some time to write to your European representatives and let them know your personal concerns. You can find out who your MEPs are at WriteToThem.
There’s a lot about IPRED2 to object to (and even a little bit to encourage) in the proposed directive. If you focus on one issue and explain how it affects you, your MEP is much more likely to sit up and listen. Keep your letters succinct and polite and if you can, back up what you’re saying with clear references – the FFII IPRED2 website has lists of external opinions and background information, as well as analysis of each of the proposed amendments, which should get you started.
Remember, MEPs, like MPs, are unlikely to appreciate or respond to copy-and-pasted form letters, so please take the time to put down your concerns in your own words. Ask your MEP to forward your concerns to Nicola Zingaretti, the JURI rapporteur, or to their closest JURI colleague.
IPRED2 will criminalise “infringements on a commercial scale”. But what does this actually mean? Amendment 43 says this means “any infringement of an intellectual property right committed to obtain direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage; but excludes acts carried out by private users for personal purposes not centred on profit”. This definition is too broad. Here are some approaches to this issue you might like to consider.
- The law could criminalise the 35 million Europeans who, according to a report by Forrester research published in February 2004, have downloaded music from filesharing services.
- It could criminalise professional investigative journalists who may sometimes have to infringe copyright in order to bring important information to the attention of the public.
- It could criminalise the owners of websites where users provide the content
Alternatively, you might like to write to your MEP in support of Amendments 72 and 74, which ask for a fair use provision to ensure that people who use copyrighted work for teaching, news reporting, research or criticism are not criminalised.
Whatever you choose to write, please let us know if your MEP responds.