Europe Backs Off France’s Anti-Piracy Moves; Compromise Agreement Struck

European Parliamentarians have watered down their opposition to France implementing its three-strikes anti-piracy measure, instead striking a compromise agreement that will leave copyright enforcement measures up to member states themselves. The compromise is put to a vote on Wednesday.

Last month, MEPs voted for a bill that read: “No restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities.” But, facing opposition from the Council Of Ministers, they on Tuesday rewrote the passage to read: “Recognising that the internet is essential for education and for the practical exercise of freedom of expression and access to information, any restriction imposed on the exercise of these fundamental rights should be in accordance with the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

That lack of explicit reference to judicial bodies removes what would have been a compulsion on member states to get a court order before disconnecting digital copyright thieves. Rapporteur Catherine Trautmann, speaking in parliament Tuesday morning, said: “The spirit of the amendment has been respected … we have avoided the rejection of the amendment.” Trautmann said the compromise writes a “sense of a principle” in to the bill. But parliamentarians must now pin their hopes on countries like France adhering to their “spirit” and “principle” if they are to avoid disconnecting ISP customers.

France’s own Creation And The Internet bill would create an agency to warn, warn again, then disconnect illegal downloaders. The bill” title=”was voted against in April”>was voted against in April but has been put to parliament again. A vote was on Tuesday postponed to May 12 after numerous opposition amendments, says. Opponents have designed this tshirt and poster combo, “Christine Is Watching You”, after the bill’s proponent culture minister Christine Albanel.

Euro-parliamentarians opposition to this so-called “graduated response” measure had threatened to derail the European Commission’s Telecoms Package, a wide-ranging bill reforming telecoms law. MEPs first amended (#138) the Telecoms Package bill in September, but their passage was stripped out by the Council Of Ministers. They reinstated the guarantee as amendment #46 upon second reading on April 21. In the UK, Digital Britain, too, advocates multiple warnings to freeloaders as well as a Rights Agency to oversee the process, but legal enforcement has not been decided upon.

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