Breaches of intellectual property rights (IPR) on the internet are a growing problem for the economy and require a response at EU level, the European
Parliament said on Wednesday.
MEPs recommend the removal of barriers to a single
digital market by granting EU-wide copyright licences
for products like music, books and films.
The "enormous growth of unauthorised file sharing of
copyrighted works is an increasing problem for the
European economy in terms of job opportunities and
revenues for the industry as well as for government",
The provision of an attractive legal range of goods
and services might help tackle the problem but the
lack of a functioning internal European digital market
is a major obstacle.
The Commission is therefore asked to propose a
comprehensive strategy on IPR which will remove
obstacles to creating a single market in the online
environment and adapt the European legislative
framework in the field of IPR to current trends in
society as well as technical developments.
European countries, including France and the UK, are
considering or have recently passed laws that deal
directly with the problem of copyright infringement
and the internet. The Commission is negotiating on the
EU's behalf with a selection of countries on a new
international treaty on copyright laws, the Anti
Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA).
The Commission is also asked to think broadly about
methods of facilitating industry's access to the
digital market without geographical borders by
addressing urgently the issue of multi-territory
licences and the harmonisation of legislation on
copyright. A pan-European licensing system should
provide consumers with "access to the widest possible
choice of content and not at the expense of European
local repertoire", says the resolution.
Parliament does not share the Commission's view that
the current civil enforcement framework in the EU is
sufficiently effective and harmonised. Dialogue on
possible solutions must involve all stakeholders,
including Internet service providers, say MEPs.
MEPs argue that, in cultural terms, the 'private copy'
should be seen as an exception to intellectual
property rights. They want individuals who copy
originals for private use not to have to prove that
their copies are legitimate.
MEPs also call on the Commission to pursue its efforts
to make progress on the negotiations for an
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), taking
full account of Parliament's position, and to ensure
that the provisions of the ACTA fully comply with
existing EU rules on IPR and fundamental rights.
Parliament also wants the Commission to set up more
intellectual property helpdesks in third countries
(notably in India and Russia), to help European
entrepreneurs enforce their intellectual property
rights more actively and to combat the entry into the
EU internal market of counterfeit goods from such
MEPs point out that there is not enough data on
breaches of intellectual property rights and they call
for independent studies to be carried out before any
new legislation is proposed.
Parliament adopted the report by Marielle Gallo (EPP,
FR) on Wednesday by 328 votes in favour, 245 against
and 81 abstentions.