August 21, 2008 | Becky Hogge

Commission adviser accuses Barroso of intentionally misleading European policy-makers and citizens on copyright

When the European Commission put forward their proposal to retrospectively extend the copyright term granted to sound recordings, locking away vast swathes of our cultural heritage in a commercial vacuum for 45 years, it was clear that they had rejected all the expert evidence in favour of voodoo economics.

Now Professor Bernt Hugenholtz has written a letter to Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso asking why. Huggenholtz, Director of the Institute for Information Law (IViR), which was tasked by the European Commission to look into the arguments for and against extending copyright term, says his team were "surprised" to discover that their studies had been completely ignored, and that statements the Commission have made that "there was no need for external expertise" in drafting the proposal were "patently untrue". He goes on (with our emphasis):

As you are certainly aware, one of the aims of the 'Better Regulation' policy that is part of the Lisbon agenda is to increase the transparency of the EU legislative process. By wilfully ignoring scientific analysis and evidence that was made available to the Commission upon its own initiative, the Commission's recent Intellectual Property package does not live up to this ambition. Indeed, the Commission's obscuration of the IViR studies and its failure to confront the critical arguments made therein seem to reveal an intention to mislead the Council and the Parliament, as well as the citizens of the European Union.

In doing so the Commission reinforces the suspicion, already widely held by the public at large, that its policies are less the product of a rational decision-making process than of lobbying by stakeholders. This is troublesome not only in the light of the current crisis of faith as regards the European lawmaking institutions, but also - and particularly so - in view of European citizens' increasingly critical attitudes towards intellectual property law.

The letter goes on to demand that the Commission fully inform the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers of the findings of the IViR studies. You can read it in full here.

Comments (5)

  1. William:
    Aug 23, 2008 at 10:03 PM

    Wow. We have some interesting and capable friends and allies. Our cause is just, and must prevail [(c) Cliffe Bonfire Society, Lewes]

  2. Joseph Webley-Fosbery:
    Aug 25, 2008 at 10:02 AM

    Our cause is just and must prevail.

  3. Andrew Katz:
    Sep 01, 2008 at 04:04 PM

    I'm wondering if the ORG shouldn't write to James Purnell as Minister for Work and Pensions, to see whether they have a view on copyright term extension, seeing as it now seems to be a social/pensions issue.

  4. The Open Rights Group : Blog Archive » Performers likely to get as little as 50¢ a year from increased term of copyright:
    Sep 05, 2008 at 12:18 PM

    [...] The proposal is set to cost hundreds of millions to consumers, with repercussions to the public interest, follow-on innovators and cultural diversity. It serves as a windfall for an industry the Commission would have us believe is immune from simple economic logic. No wonder Europe’s leading copyright thinker - and adviser to the European Commission - has accused the Commission of wilfully misleading the European Parliament, and the citizens of the Europ.... [...]

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