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DSM Watch: Towards a modern European copyright framework (Part 5): fighting piracy

22 March 2016
The fifth and final part of our blog series on the European Commission´s action plan reforming copyright deals with the Commission's plans for providing an effective and balanced enforcement system.

Background

The Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy – presented in May 2015 – contains 16 initiatives in a variety of fields such as telecommunication, consumer rights and Big Data, each of which is intended to bring us one step closer to the European digital single market. Our DSM Watch team is a multi-jurisdictional, cross-practice group working together to keep you informed as the initiatives under the DSM strategy roll out.

One of the 16 initiatives focuses on copyright reform. On 9th December 2015, the European Commission presented its action plan "Towards a modern, more European copyright framework" which touches upon four different topics. Additionally, the Commission provided a draft Regulation on cross-border portability of online content services.

Over the last weeks, we have published four blog posts dealing with the main topics of the action plan: "Widening access to content across the EU" (Part 1), "the draft regulation cross-border portability of online content service" (Part 2), "Exceptions to copyright rules for an innovative and inclusive society" (Part 3) and  "Creating a fairer marketplace" (Part 4). This final blog post of this series is on the Commission's plans to challenge piracy within the European Union.

Fighting Piracy

Subject of the fourth and final topic of the Commission's action plan is the efficient enforcement of copyrights and in particular the combatting of piracy. In order to do so, the Commission is going to take action in three different fields:

  • As a start, the Commission is going to set up and apply the "follow-the-money" principle in order to cut off anyone who is engaged in commercial scale copyright infringements of their source of income. The Commission is hoping to reach an agreement on a self-regulatory basis with the concerned parties by spring 2016. Codes of conduct might be supported by legislative measures in order to ensure their efficacy.

  • Secondly, the Commission will have a closer look at the directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (also known as IPRED) and examine whether there is any need for revision. Along with the presentation of the action plan, the Commission therefore opened a public consultation on the evaluation and modernisation of the existing legal framework (Deadline 15th April 2016).

  • As a third measure, the Commission launched a consultation on online platforms, which also covers issues regarding the "notice and action" mechanism that applies to online intermediaries. According to the "notice and action" procedure, intermediaries have to remove illegal content or block access to it (action) as soon as they have been informed about the illegal content (notice). The Commission will examine whether the system is still effective over time. The first brief results of the consultation have recently been published but they just demonstrate the difficulty of balancing the different interests of the concerned parties.

With the presentation of the action plan, the Commission announced many legislative measures – and raised expectations. Whether the proposals presented in spring, summer or fall 2016 will fulfill those expectations is still unclear. Often, the devil lies in the detail. We will keep you updated!

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