ENDitorial : EU nations scolded by IIPA

By EDRi · February 28, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a lobby
group representing the American publishing, software, recording and
movie industries, has been busy. On 12 February IIPA published its
recommendations to the US Trade Representative’s 2007 review of
global copyright laws. This “Special 301” procedure can lead to
significant trade sanctions against countries that are judged to be
uncooperative in the US drive for ever stronger intellectual property
rights. It has been used over the last two decades to bully
developing nations into signing quite inappropriate IP agreements
such as the World Trade Organisation’s TRIPS and “TRIPS plus” Free
Trade Agreements with the US.

IIPA identifies a long list of nations that it considers to be
placing social goals such as fighting major crime, improving
education and protecting privacy above the profits of its members. As
Michael Geist points out, they include 23 of the world’s 30 most
populous nations. Embarrassingly, while the list includes many
leading economies such as Canada and Japan, it leaves out EU nations
including the UK, France and Germany.

To their credit, ten EU nations are included in IIPA’s hit list,
which makes some extraordinary demands. Greece is told that
immigrant street vendors involved in copyright infringement should be
deported and that tax authorities should audit software licences for
all firms. Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania are scolded for
concentrating police, prosecutor and judicial attention on their
societies’ most pressing problems rather than on cases of copyright
infringement, while Latvia is warned that it must fully staff its new
IPR enforcement police division. Lithuania and Poland are also
instructed to increase Customs operations against the import of
infringing goods. Italy, Greece, Poland and Sweden are criticised for
privacy laws that prevent ISPs disclosing the identity of their
customers to right holders based upon an Internet Protocol address.
Sweden is admonished for “society’s high acceptance of filesharing”
and its “notoriety as a piracy safe haven” – and yet right holders
are “deeply concerned” about discussion of a compulsory licence to
provide artists with compensation for filesharing. Poland’s
universities and lecturers are instructed to “cultivate a climate of
respect for copyright” amongst their students, and Hungary told to
“closely monitor” its high-speed academic network for copyright
infringement. Spain’s prosecutors, judges and law students apparently
need some re-education in the value of intellectual property rights,
while the Spanish government is ordered to reverse the “stunning”
decision of the General Public Prosecutor that his staff have more
pressing concerns than the criminal prosecution of peer-to-peer

One of IIPA’s most consistent complaints is about the protection
given by European countries to anti-copying Digital Rights Management
technology. IIPA wrongly claims that the World Intellectual Property
Organisation’s Internet treaties require countries to implement US-
style rigid protection of DRM . They criticise countries including
Italy, Romania, Sweden and Poland for implementing the EU Copyright
Directive in a way that gives their citizens some flexibility over
breaking these locks when copyright law allows. Canada, Hong Kong,
India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland and South
Korea are also criticised for their DRM laws.

It is not surprising that US companies lobby to change global laws
that would increase their profits. On past performance, the US
government is likely to take careful note of their recommendations.
But European nations should robustly defend their right to shape
copyright policy to meet the needs of their own citizens, and not
just those of large copyright holders.

IIPA – Recommendations on 60 countries to USTR in the 2007 Special 301
review on copyright piracy and market access problems (12.02.2007)

Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite, “Information Feudalism” -New York: W. W.
Norton & Co., 2002.

Michael Geist – “In Good Company'” (14.02.2007)

Ian Brown – “The evolution of anti-circumvention law” – International Review
of Law, Computers and Technology 20(3), 239-260.

Urs Gasser and Silke Ernst, “Best Practice Guide: Implementing the EU
Copyright Directive in the Digital Age” (12.2006)

(contribution by Ian Brown – EDRI-member Open Rights Group)