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Tougher EU Enforcement Directive essential to help Europe's publishers fight piracy, says EPC

Key EP Legal Affairs vote, 27 November

The European Publishers Council (EPC) is calling on the European Parliament to ensure that the proposed EU directive on Intellectual Property Rights (EU Enforcement Directive) is given real teeth to fight the widespread counterfeiting and piracy that is seriously undermining Europe's content providers when the EP Legal Affairs Committee votes on 27 November. On this issue, the EPC has joined a coalition of EU industry groups to express common concerns of creative industries.

EPC Chairman, Francisco Pinto Balsemão said: "With over 5% of Europe's GDP generated through created works and millions of citizens depending on intellectual property protection for their livelihoods, it is essential that legislation is put in place to ensure the future viability of the creative industries. There is a huge misconception that consumers have something to gain by being allowed free access to creative works. On the contrary, if piracy and counterfeiting is not tackled urgently, jobs will be lost, many creative industries will fail, innovation will be curtailed and the result will be an economically and culturally diminished creative sector - culture will lose out, the economy will lose out, consumers will lose out."

There is also some confusion amongst different stakeholders that the directive introduces new IP rights that would undermine current legislation such as copyright and e-commerce directives. This is not the case. The directive simply provides creators with the tools to protect their rights while preserving consumer expectations. Neither does the proposed directive expand the liability of those providing or using online services; instead it provides incentives for all creators to make their products available online, expanding consumer choice. What the EPC wants to see is stricter wording on the harmonisation of criminal sanctions and to ensure that the protection of technical devices should apply to both tangible and intangible goods.

The EPC has asked for the following specific amendments to be adopted:

  • to protect confidentiality of journalists' sources during any proceedings;
  • to remove any test that an infringement must be for commercial purposes only (this, says the EPC, is an invitation to the general public to commit certain IPR infringements).
  • To allow the protection of technical devices protecting intangible goods and access to online services (publishers increasingly make high value content available online via a combination of encryption and password-protected access).
  • To support the Rapporteur's opposition to an amendment which , if adopted, would alter the existing hierarchy of liability established in the eCommerce directive.

For further information, contact Heidi Lambert on Tel: +44 1245 476 265 or Angela Mills Wade, EPC on Tel: +44 1865 310 732.