Reporters Without Borders deplores the European Parliament’s adoption of the Gallo report and fears its impact on future implementation of the European Commission’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive 2 (IPRED 2).
Drafted by French MEP Marielle Gallo of the European People’s Party (EPP), the report was approved by 328 to 245 votes on 22 September.
It embodies a repressive approach to the defence of intellectual property rights, is riddled with inconsistencies and violates the rights of Internet users. But Gallo was able to use the need to combat counterfeiting and piracy to mobilise votes.
The vote represents a U-turn in relation to the positions recently taken by the European Parliament. On 10 March, the parliament voting almost unanimously for a resolution urging the European Commission to be more transparent about its position in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations and to release the latest ACTA draft.
Then, in “Declaration No. 12” adopted on 7 September, MEPs reiterated their condemnation of the non-transparent way the ACTA is being negotiated and urged negotiators to ensure that fundamental rights are respected.
By approving the Gallo report, the European Parliament has bolstered the dominant position in the European Commission and has given it a free hand to negotiate an ACTA that will endanger online freedoms.
MEPs urged to reject Gallo report
Reporters Without Borders calls on MEPs to reject the Gallo Report when it is submitted to a vote of a full session of the European Parliament on 22 September because implementation of its recommendations would restrict online rights and freedoms including free expression, the protection of privacy and the right to a fair trial.
Drafted by French MEP Marielle Gallo of the European People’s Party (EPP) at the request of the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), the report recommends ways to reinforce intellectual property rights in line with the European Commission’s September 2009 call for non-legislative measures to combat file-sharing without going through the courts.
Instead of voting for the Gallo report, Reporters Without Borders urges MEPS to support an alternative report drafted by the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the Greens, which respects Net Neutrality.
This would be in line with the declaration adopted by MEPs on 7 September – “Declaration No. 12” – which condemned the potentially objectionable content of the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and the non-transparent way it is being negotiated. By rejecting the Gallo report, MEPs would send a strong signal to those who will meet in Tokyo next week for the final round of ACTA negotiations.
The Gallo report is non-legislative in nature but, once approved by the parliament, it would influence the measures adopted by the European Commission. It aims to combat illegal downloading but ignores the fact that there is legal file-sharing that fosters online creativity. By reinforcing copyright protection and the use of procedures to suppress file-sharing, it would open the way for more laws such as France’s HADOPI although studies have criticised their effectiveness.
The Gallo report also supports the proposed ACTA, which would make Internet service providers responsible for online content, encourage the use of tools for prior surveillance and data filtering and provide for the suspension of Internet connections for violators (http://en.rsf.org/potential-threats-to-online-free-23-04-2010,37129.html).
The S&D/Green report is not the only alternative to the Gallo report. One was also drafted by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). Although less repressive than the Gallo report, it nonetheless contains unacceptable proposals. It would, for example, allow ISPs to decide whether Internet users were illegally downloading and to take appropriate reaction.
The report drafted by the S&D/Green group guarantees the principle of Net Neutrality and the protection of personal data, and distinguishes between commercial file-sharing and file-sharing between individuals.