EU telecom package is a partial victory for both sides
The European Parliament last week dropped plans to introduce a law that would in effect make it almost impossible for national governments to disconnect people who illegally download copyrighted materials. The newly agreed upon proposal fell short of the hopes of both sides fighting the Internet piracy war.
In exchange for an agreement on the new telecommunication competition law that has been under negotiation for a long time, members of the European Parliament dropped an amendment that would make it difficult for national governments to implement and enforce “three-strikes” rules against Internet pirates. These rules allow for people to be disconnected after they ignore two warnings. Internet providers and various consumer-rights groups strongly oppose this measure, fearing it would be too easy to misuse.
France and Britain along with lobbying groups from the music and film industries were among the main opponents of the bill that would limit individual states powers to deal with Internet pirates. This camp would like national laws that allow for disconnecting Internet pirates to be independent of the European Parliament’s legislation.
The original proposal called for an automatic court overview of the disconnection process, but after months of tough negotiations the bill’s wording was toned down a bit. It now calls only for “appropriate, proportionate and necessary measures” to be taken to enforce copyright laws on the Internet. A judicial review is now possible but not mandatory.
Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for information society and media, called the agreed legislation a victory for European consumers. Still, even she admits that the discussion that preceded the final wording of the bill clearly showed that more modern and more effective legislation governing intellectual copyright in the digital age is needed. And didn’t we all already know that?