EC Copyright Term Directive - an update

credit: Flickr/yacht_boy
The IPKat received the following email from Martin Kretschmer providing a very informative update on what is happening with the proposed EC Copyright Term Directive, a subject the IPKat has commented on previously (here, for example).
"Dear colleagues,

Many of you have asked for an update. The process has become so complex that it is hard to provide a short summary.

Both European Parliament and Council of Ministers have to agree a joint text. The procedures run in parallel.

In the Council of Ministers, the French Presidency is pushing very hard to come to an agreement at the Competitiveness Council next week but there is considerable resistance. Only Estonia and Cyprus appear to have come out in favour. I believe an official ‘against’ position is recorded from Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Finland, Sweden – and a position ‘something for performers but not in this form’ from UK, Poland, Belgium.

It is very likely that the Directive will be pushed into the Czech presidency which takes over in January (and will be much less keen).

In the European Parliament, the lead committee is Legal Affairs (JURI). The rapporteur is Brian Crowley, an Irish party colleague of McCreevy, and strongly in favour. Feeding committees (which all can propose amendments) are Culture and Education (CULT), Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), and Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO).

Lionel Bently (who spoke as invited expert) and I both attended the JURI public hearing on 4 November. I attach Lionel’s address [IPKat comment: this has been uploaded to the IPKat's Google Groups site].

Tilman Lüder, head of the Copyright Unit at DG Market made a heated statement, attacking the joint academic position. He was subject to a point of order.

IFPI has been mounting a sustained operation, and we saw numerous industry lobbyists a work. In return, Open Rights made a valiant effort, and Open Rights’ sound copyright campaign is still a key ally (see here).

Several MEP assistants told me that they had received offers for concert tickets of famous artists. All the rapporteurs of the feeding committees had been cultivated, and wrote supportive reports BEFORE the public hearing (mostly asking for an inclusion of audio-visual performers). Within committee politics, rejection did not seem an option to most MEPs we spoke to. For MEPs it is troublesome that performer organisations speak in favour of extension. Critical MEPs lack a publicly persuasive lobby partner.

The feeding committees will vote in early December. Rufus Pollock, Lionel Bently and I have fed a number of amendments to receptive MEPs. There also have been moves from the European broadcasters (mandatory collective administration for extended term as applying to digital broadcasting archives). It has to be said that the broadcast lobbyists woke up much too late.

The only openly sceptical parliamentary group are the Greens. Sharon Bowles (liberal/ALDE MEP in JURI) [IPKat comment: as well as being a Chartered & European Patent Attorney] is making an effort with a set of amendments, linking extension to a registration system for instances of inadequate remuneration for the performer (administered via OHIM, the European Trade Mark Office in Alicante, and subject to licences as of right). EPP (centre right) and PES (socialists) as parliamentary groups appear to support 95 years.

The best we can hope for in the European Parliament is that there are enough irreconcilable amendments voted through in ITRE (11 December), so that JURI (scheduled vote 19/20 January) will ask for more time, or an independent study.

As we stand, a plenary vote is scheduled for February. Any spanner in the works may take us into the next parliament and a new commission (European elections: 4 June).

In the UK, DCMS is still sitting on the fence, but DIUS is holding the line (backed by Cabinet Office). link

Lastly, I attach a set of three amendments (mainly in Lionel Bently's words) that may form the nucleus of an acceptable way forward (if there is a stalemate between Council and Parliament) [IPKat comment: this has also uploaded to the Google Groups site]. The basic idea is to give an extension to performers only (life or 50 years, the current Greek law), and address the access issues via collecting societies. In addition, we propose a use-it-or-lose-it provision during the current term. This third amendment needs some work on procedure for recovering rights.

In summary, everything hangs in a delicate balance. Any appearance of dissent in the media will be important."
The IPKat congratulates Martin and Lionel for their efforts in keeping up the pressure against this proposed Directive, and hopes that sooner or later it can be killed off as it deserves to be. Merpel would like to point out that tickets to see Cliff Richard and the Shadows on their 50th anniversary tour go on sale in a couple of days; a snip at £60 each.
EC Copyright Term Directive - an update EC Copyright Term Directive - an update Reviewed by David Pearce on Friday, November 28, 2008 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. I was actually there in Brussels at the presentation. I can sum up my initial thoughts as follows - there was much spouting of caveats in terms of "this is not an inquiry into intellectual property or the patents system" BUT ... I believe that, just based on the morning's presentations, they were walking a very fine line and were in grave danger of tripping over it, flat on their faces. However, a bigger danger to IP practitioners is the message that some of these findings will send without further qualification, analysis or explanation, messages as to how IP rights truly work in this sector. For example, the DG for Consumer Protection's speech almost ranted about patent quality and how they cannot be used to keep out competition (que?) etc but then kept trying to save herself with the usual talk about balance. She clearly had little idea about the the range of drivers for an intellectual property system. However, the DG for Enterprise gave a much better speech and clearly appears to understand the issues faced by the industry as a whole (not unexpectedly given his history with patent reform etc). I was hoping that Lord Justice Jacob, coming on after lunch, would bring some balance on the IP commentary front. He did not disappoint!

    All in all - like it or not, if they believe the can make random comments about patent clusters, evergreening practices and so on without getting themselves tangled and trapped into commenting on the patent system as a whole, I believe they are mistaken.

    This will be an interesting space to watch .... even if there has been more chat on IP than on competition!


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