Cutting Through The Copyright Jungle

The European Commission’s proposals to overhaul intellectual property rules have already gone down well with the indie music companies but there’s still some concern over how they’ll be put into practice.

Most of the European Union’s larger member states are progressing toward protecting intellectual property rights and reducing piracy, but there are indications that they’re not all singing from the same hymn sheet.

“Ensuring the right level of protection of IPR in the single market is essential for Europe’s economy,” said EU internal markets commissioner Michel Barnier, but fulfilling that aim is likely to take years.

While various countries take slightly different approaches and have various interpretations of EU directives, Barnier’s bid to unify the single market seems to involve hacking through a legal jungle.

The UK’s Digital Economy Act may well face further legal tests. On May 30 Internet service providers British Telecom and TalkTalk announced they’re seeking leave to appeal the High Court ruling that blocked their bid to overturn the new law.

The difficulties in establishing pan-European methods of copyright enforcement are highlighted by the fact the main plank of the ISPs’ argument is that the DEA doesn’t even conform to EU directives.

Meanwhile in Germany, culture and media minister Bernd Neumann announced his plans for copyright law reform, which appear to be framed on similar lines to those in France.

The downside for German recording and publishing businesses is that any changes in the law aren’t likely to come into effect until after the 2013 elections.

The French law is based on cautioning offenders before taking any serious legal action against them.

Barnier’s best chance of finding a clearing in the legal jungle may come at the current G8 summit, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel hopes to discuss the issues with other European leaders.