Confused discussions surrounding IPR enforcement in the EP

By EDRi · April 7, 2010

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Wirre Diskussionen im EP über die Durchsetzung geistiger Eigentumsrechte |]

The probably final set of discussions around the much-debated “Gallo Report”
on the enforcement of intellectual property rights was held recently in the
Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (EP).

In the week prior to the discussions, a study prepared for the International
Chamber of Commerce had claimed that 185 000 jobs were lost as a result of
intellectual property infringements in 2008 and this would rise to 1.2
million jobs by 2015. This was, unsurprisingly, seized upon by supporters of
ever-stronger legislation on intellectual property infringements.

The study’s methodology was heavily criticised by the Social Science
Research Centre (SSRC), primarily for the assumption that domestic IPR
infringement was a 100% loss to the economy and that the money saved by
consumers through infringements would not be spent in the domestic economy
and secondly that any losses would be 100% absorbed by European companies.

MEPs that supported the fact that the SSRC was making valid arguments were
accused by Mme Gallo and by certain trade unions of claiming that
intellectual property infringements were of no significance whatsoever.

Bearing in mind that the European Commission has allocated one million Euro
(according the website of one of the participants) to the Counter Project
for “exploring the consumption of counterfeit and pirated leisure goods” and
half a million Euro for a separate study on the impact of intellectual
property infringements, it is rather surprising that the MEPs who believe
that the International Chamber of Commerce study is credible are not
complaining at the apparent waste of money on further research.

Over the coming week, compromise amendments may be prepared by the political
groups, in advance of the Committee vote. However, it seems likely at this
stage that the Legal Affairs Committee may adopt a report which is at odds
with other recent decisions of the Parliament (such as in the telecoms
package), which will necessitate an alternative resolution being put to the
full plenary session in May. The outcome of that vote will inform the
Commission’s thinking as to the limits of its possible ambitions for the
future Directive on criminal sanctions for IPR infringements.

International Chamber of Commerce: Building a Digital Economy: The
Importance of Saving Jobs in the EU’s Creative Industries

SSRC – Piracy and Jobs in Europe (22.03.2010)

Counter project

(Contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)