16 February 2009

EU Puts "Three Strikes" on Ice

Here's a turn-up for the books:

The European Commission is set to put proposals to tackle online piracy on ice until the end of its current mandate, following heavy pressure from telecoms companies and consumer organisations alike, EurActiv has learned.

The EU executive had been expected to bring forward two initiatives in the first half of 2009, both of which could have forced a more restrictive EU-wide approach to free and illegal downloading.

The most ancipated measure was a follow-up to a Communicationexternal on online content, presented at the beginning of 2008, which hinted at restrictive measures to curb online piracy. Proposals included a mandate for Internet service providers (ISPs) "to suspend or cut access to the web for those who illegally file-share," the so-called three-step model proposed by France (EurActiv 10/12/07).

That's surprising, but what's really striking is the reason for this pause:

Brussels had planned to present actual proposals in the form of a recommendation in April. But now the plan has been frozen "after a radicalisation of the debate which has left no space for manoeuvre," a Commission official told EurActiv, referring to strong lobbying by the content industry (in particular music), supported mainly by France, in negotiations over the telecoms package.

"There will be no recommendation. The Commission will only later present issue papers," which may be used by the next Commission after it is sworn in at the end of 2009 or in 2010, explained Martin Selmayr, spokesman for Viviane Reding, the EU's information society commissioner.
This suggests the increasingly outrageous demans from the content industries have been their own undoing. Perhaps the era in which lobbyists can dictate legislation at will is finally coming to a close.

But we're not in the clear yet:

Consumers can rejoice too, although restrictive measures at national level are planned in many EU countries. Meanwhile, a new EU-wide attempt to regulate may be made during the current negotiations over the telecoms package, where the Council and the Parliament have the final say.

The fight goes on.


Leslie P. Polzer said...

I wonder, does this influence the Medina report?

Glyn Moody said...

Not clear to me, either.