EP: Surprises in the online distribution of audiovisual works' report

By EDRi · July 18, 2012

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Deutsch: [EP: Bericht zum Online-Vertrieb audiovisueller Werke birgt Überraschungen | https://www.unwatched.org/EDRigram_10.14_EP_Bericht_zum_Online-Vertrieb_audiovisueller_Werke_birgt_Ueberraschungen?pk_campaign=edri&pk_kwd=20120718]

On 10 July 2012, the Culture and Education (CULT) Committee in the
European Parliament (EP) voted on the own initiative report of
Jean-Marie Cavada (EPP, France) on the online distribution of
audiovisual content. The own initiative report follows the Green Paper
from the European Commission dated 13 July 2011 and the public
consultation that closed in November 2011 (for which the result is not
yet available).

Mr Cavada’s draft report contained a paragraph calling for consideration
of “how to block access to pay platforms offering unauthorised
services.” This provision was removed by Mr Cavada as a result of
widespread opposition. This removal is welcome as the Committee has
consistently rejected blocking a way of combating the dissemination of
platforms offering unauthorised services.

As good news never comes without bad news (or at least not as often as
we would wish for…), the report contained a very surprising paragraph
on the liability of network operators. The additional paragraph
(amendment 147) that was voted, was proposed by the Mr. Cavada. It
“calls on the Commission to consider ways (…) reverse the current
trend of removing responsibility from these operators regarding consumer
protection, implementation of intellectual property and ensuring
Internet privacy”. The adoption of this text is surprising for at least
three reasons.

Firstly, it is factually not true that there is a trend that diminishes
the responsibility of network operators. The rules concerning the
responsibility and liability of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are
provided by the e-Commerce Directive in Articles 12 to 15 and have been
in place since 2001. The only discernible trend has been in the opposite
direction, as courts in some EU Member States have been making rulings
that have narrowly interpreted ISP liability provisions

Secondly, the risk is really high that this provision could be
understood as promoting privatised censorship in exactly the way that
was suggested by ACTA., As liability increases, it is logical that ISPs
will be willing to avoid legal problems by “voluntarily” enforcing
copyright legislation outside the rule of law. This will lead to
privatised enforcement at the detriment of fundamental rights such as
freedom of expression, the right to privacy but also the freedom to
conduct business.

Finally, the role of the whole initiative was to encourage the
development of new legal offers and to improve the access to content for
users – it is a symptom of a broader problem that, even when the policy
is so positive, the reflex is to fall back on repressive measures as the
only solution.

During the discussions of this dossier in Parliament, the online
distribution of audiovisual works’ report has raised lots of attention
and the number of amendments proposed for an own-initiative report shows
that the subject creates a huge amount of controversy. The attention
brought on the report need to be looked at in the larger debate on

The final version of the Report is not available yet.

Amendment 147 in the Report

Directive on electronic commerce 2000/31/EC

(Contribution by Marie Humeau – EDRi)