In June this year, the European Commission proposed a bill which would make it easier for companies to sue users of the Internet and other digital services for copyright infringement.
The proposal is not just about making it easier to prosecute copyright infringers, but also about increasing the penalties for companies accused of copyright infringement and creating a framework for a single copyright enforcement body to tackle all digital copyright infringement cases.
The European Commission wants to bring more companies under the jurisdiction of the European Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) and establish a single European Copyright Enforcement Authority (ECEA).
This is the same ECEA which has been in existence since 2011, but is currently being held up by the European Parliament (EP) in the hope that it will be abolished.
The ECEA was established in 2011 under a European Charter of Fundamental Rights, but was only brought into existence in May 2016 when the new European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, promised to “strengthen and enhance the EIPO”.
The current EIPOs powers are limited.
It only has powers to address “any copyright infringement that arises within the jurisdiction”.
The EIPE also only has the power to “initiate criminal proceedings against an infringer in relation to any infringement of copyright”.
But the new proposal, the “new Intellectual Property Act”, would create an EIPA with powers to deal with copyright infringement, including the power for the European Patent Office to prosecute patent infringers.
In a statement, the Commission said the new legislation “will give European companies the opportunity to take legal action against alleged infringers” and would “provide a powerful legal mechanism for addressing copyright infringement by multinational companies”.
What does the new law mean for companies?
The EIPTO is currently headed by Jean-Pierre De Villiers, the current commissioner of the EU Commission.
De Villier is a lawyer and MEP from the conservative party the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), but he is a member of the executive of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP).
De Villiers was also the chair of the EPP’s digital rights committee in 2016.
De Villepin, a spokesperson for the EPP, said in a statement: “The proposal by the new EIP will be a boost to the EPD and the protection of copyright, and will not undermine the EPS.
The proposed legislation will create an effective and transparent mechanism for the EU’s digital society to fight copyright infringement online, while also ensuring that the EU retains a strong copyright law.”
Is there any support for the new bill?
While the proposal is a step in the right direction, it does not have much support among the parties in the European parliament.
Currently, the EEP is supported by the CDU and the conservative Christian Democrats (CDV), with the liberal and pro-market parties, the Greens and the Left, opposing it.
Is this new legislation the end of the fight against copyright infringement?
How will this impact the future of the ECEA? “
It does not change existing rights and obligations, nor does it address the specific problem of online copyright infringement,” said the spokesperson.
How will this impact the future of the ECEA?
Currently the EPA only deals with “infringing software and services”, and does not address the issue of “piracy”.
The new draft bill would extend that jurisdiction to “inflicting third parties”.
In the words of De Villirts spokesperson, this “will not apply to services that infringe copyright, which can include online services, social networks, email services, e-commerce platforms, search engines and any other content that is not infringing.”
What happens if this new law passes?
As a result of the proposed legislation, the ECPA will have to be amended.
According to De Villiere, the proposed law would have to have a two-thirds majority in the EAPO, but the Eipos only has three.
If the new ECPA is passed, the next steps would be for the Commission to propose an amendment to the law to address the new proposals, and the EFPO to vote on it.
It is also possible that the Commission could propose a “reclassification” of the EPUA into a separate law.
Does this change the current situation?
No, the problem is not about the new proposed law.
The problem is that the current ECPA does not adequately address the problem of copyright copyright infringement in Europe.
The current legislation does not provide a clear definition of copyright or a clear mechanism for dealing with copyright infringements, and does nothing to protect intellectual property rights.
So what should companies do now?
For companies, it is important to have an effective legal defence