A date has been set for the final committee vote on the IP Criminal Measures Enforcement Directive, before it goes to a full plenary of the European Parliament, according to information forwarded to the IPKat by James Heald (UCL).
Right: Let the punishment fit the crime? This man was convicted of infringing the copyright in rock music ...
A voting order has been circulated for the Legal Affairs committee meeting on Tuesday 20 March. According to James:
"The rapporteur had originally hoped to get his report voted through before Christmas, but the Directive disappeared behind closed doors for three months, while both the Socialist and Christian Democrat groups tried to sort out a line on how far the Directive should include individual consumers, with some MEPs pushing for consumer possession of any individual fake items to be criminalised; while others wanting end-consumers (and file sharers) largely cut out of the Directive.The IPKat feels quite ashamed that this has all been happening without him noticing it, despite his fabled vigilance. He wonders how many people actually know how the laws we depend upon are formulated at the policy-making and legislative phases and how much is left to chance matters such as how well the lobbyists for IP owners, retailers, distributors, consumers and law enforcers can get their points across and what resources they have for doing so. Merpel adds, that's why most people wait till the law's in place and then have a jolly good moan at it - which is why, for example, Regulation 1383/2003 on the suspensive detention of goods is the third legislative stab we've had so far at stopping fakes at the EU's borders.
The result of that mulling (and heavy pressure by the German government to have something to show for its EU Presidency) appears to be limited to a few words changed in a new "oral" compromise amendment proposed by Mr Zingaretti to Article 2, which sets out definitions for the Directive (here).
A curious new phrase in the amendment seeks to criminalise "acceptance of such infringement" - which would seem to be impossibly under-defined. FFII isn't very pleased.
There seems to be little concern among MEPs about putting very arguable rights into the sphere of criminal law (ie beyond copyright piracy and deliberate trade mark counterfeiting). Many (but by no means all) are prepared to agree for patents to be taken out of scope. But it seems there is very little political interest in discussing whether accusations of infringement of (say) database rights, or unregistered design rights, should be brought within scope of the criminal authorities.
Nor does there seem to be much interest (apart from in the smaller parties) in trying to define what areas of dispute are legitimate civil disagreements, rather than criminal acts".
Full text of the proposal here
Further background to the IP Criminal Enforcement Directive here