[Fsfe-ie] EU Parliament approves IP Enforcement Directive
j.heald at ucl.ac.uk
Tue Mar 9 18:36:54 CET 2004
So in the end Mme Fourtou got her package through, with no further amendments.
The Directive is now likely to be signed off by the Council of Ministers on
Final vote was 330 to 151 with 39 abstentions.
On the key amendments:
Am 77 (Art 2.1: Scope of the directive) approved 307 to 185, 7 abstentions
Am 58 (Recital 13: to exclude Patents) rejected 193 to 310
Am 59 (Recital 13a: to limit to Commercial Scale) rejected 198 to 305
So we were just over 50 MEPs away from successfully limiting the Directive to
intentional commercial infringement.
See Google news for other summaries, including eg the Register. Also, below, is
a short summary the Greens are putting out.
Personally for me, I think the most depressing thing was not Arlene McCarthy4s
enthusiastic brandishing of a fake Manchester United shirt and some "Viagra"
she4d bought on the web, but hearing her explain to MEPs how "consumers acting
in goodfaith are excluded from the scope of the scope of the directive", when in
fact quite the contrary is the case, and she was imposing a three-line whip on
Labour MEPs *against* an amendment proposed by Sir Neil MacCormack (SNP), which
would actually have achieved this.
Malcolm Harbour made a firm speech for the Conservatives, explaining that
whether or not it was perfect, the Directive had to go through now today at
first reading without any amendment, otherwise on May 1st MEPs will have to
explain why not, "when a container-load of counterfeit goods arrives from China,
trans-shipped through one of the new Eastern states", which join the EU on that
date. [And which, like most EU member states, will probably not implement the
directive for several years in any case, while they think about how to put it
The Liberal group was divided, with Toine Manders MEP (Holland) approving the
text, but Astrid Thors (Finland) and Elly Plooij (Netherlands) both condemning
it. The UK Liberals all voted in favour of the directive, with the single
exception of Nick Clegg MEP, who works quite closely with the Lib Dems4 IT
spokesman in London, Richard Allan.
So rushed had been the procedure for the debate, that several legally
significant translation discrepancies emerged between different language
versions even during the voting proceedings. The German Conservative
spokeswoman also appeared confused, talked several times in her speech about
the importance of the vote "tomorrow". (MEPs usually take 24 hours to study the
text, and consider the points made in the debate, before they actually vote).
Exactly what will now happen, and exactly what surprises it may lead to, will
now depend on the different details of how the directive is now implemented from
member country to member country across Europe.
Short summary from the Greens:
The Fourtou report on intellectual property passed today as the rapporteur
wished. This means that the package proposed by Mrs Fourtou (and supported by
her own group, the PSE, the ELDR and the UEN) after unofficial meetings with the
Council working group and the Commission was adopted in it's entirety. All
other amendments - those from V/ALE, Marco Cappato/others/GUE and EDD - were
defeated. The majority in all the roll call votes was of the order 300-350 with
Fourtou, 100-200 against.
This result means:
- patents are included within the scope of the directive. This is of serious
concern to a number of sectors including software developers and the free
software movement, generic pharmaceutical companies, the automobile spare parts
industry, farmers at threat from GM contamination etc.
- only 3 parts of the directive are limited to "commercial scale". This means
that the provisions of Articles 7(1), 8 and 9 can potentially be used against
consumers. In the US this kind of legislation has been used to target, amongst
others, children and their parents for downloading music.
- there are concerns amongst ISPs that they can be attacked for "providing" the
means to download content which is protected by copyright.
During the voting session, Neil MacCormick raised the issue of family
connections in relation to conflicts of interest. This is in the light of
numerous recent articles highlighting Mrs Fourtou's husband being CEO of Vivendi
Universal. Pat Cox indicated that this would be raised in the Parliament Bureau.
The results of roll call votes have not yet been published; however, it is clear
that most PSE delegations voted in such a way as to defeat amendments on the
scope and to support the final package. Further details of voting patterns will
be circulated later today.
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