Today the European Commission published the responses to a public consultation on Europe’s anti-piracy directive IPRED. As expected, there is a huge divide between the copyright holders on the one hand, and Internet providers, academics and citizens on the other. The latter fiercely oppose the draconian measures that IPRED introduces, claiming it threatens basic human rights while stifling innovation.
Over the past several years many stringent anti-piracy treaties and directives have been proposed in the European Union and abroad, usually as a result of pro-copyright lobbying efforts.
The “IPR Enforcement Directive” (IPRED) falls into this category. In short, it is filled with measures that would make it easier to clamp down on file-sharers while turning Internet providers into copyright police.
Earlier this year various stakeholders and EU citizens were given the chance to have their say on IPRED, and the results of this consultation were published today. A total of 380 responses were sent in, nearly half of which came from individuals.
There is very little consensus on the contents of the anti-piracy piracy directive. What is apparent from the summary published by the European Commission is that there’s a clear divide between copyright holders on the one hand, and citizens, Internet providers and academics on the other.
As was to be expected, the overwhelming majority of copyright holders and various collecting societies call for even stricter rules on copyright-infringement and file-sharing. They further call for greater responsibilities for Internet providers who they think should filter rogue sites and monitor copyright infringers.
Most of the responses, however, were opposing the implementation of harsher anti-piracy measures for a variety of reasons.
The Internet providers for example stress that stricter rules could have a chilling effect on innovation. They also side with the vast majority of citizens, consumer protection organisations and academics who claim that IPRED threatens basic human rights.
“The overwhelming majority of individual citizens, consumer protection organisations and academics strongly argued against any further (over)regulation of IPR infringements, especially in the context of the online world. Filtering of content and monitoring traffic on the internet were perceived as threats to fundamental rights or even censorship and therefore clearly rejected,” the European Commission writes.
In addition, the majority of the respondents argue that the entertainment industry itself is one of the causes of piracy, due to the lacking availability of legal content.
“Many stakeholders who opposed amending the current IPR Enforcement Directive, including ISPs, telecommunication operators and a majority of individual contributors, viewed the lack of available and attractive licit offer as one of the main causes for online piracy. They considered that increasing such service offers would constitute a feasible alternative to imposing more detailed enforcement measures.”
Most citizens go even further and call for legalizing file-sharing entirely, as it helps the free exchange of information.
“In their contributions, most individual citizens called for removing copyright protection against file-sharing, arguing that the free exchange of information would help spread culture as well as increase creativity without having detrimental effect on industry and society as a whole; such free exchange should therefore be supported rather than considered as infringing copyright law,” the European Commission writes.
From reading the responses it is clear that the majority has serious doubts about the anti-piracy measures that are introduced by IPRED. However, as we’ve seen time and time again in the past, this is by no means a guarantee that the lawmakers will listen.