EU needs renewed consensus on intellectual property rights

Pavel Svoboda argues that a 'follow the money' approach is needed to tackle intellectual property rights infringement.

By Pavel Svoboda

11 Mar 2015

Intellectual property rights are one of the driving forces of innovation and creativity and are a key contributor to competitiveness and employment in the European Union. Both online and offline should be considered in policy actions against intellectual property rights infringement, but it is clear that online issues are of greatest concern to the majority of citizens.

As a rapporteur on 'towards a renewed consensus on the enforcement of intellectual property rights: an EU action plan', I welcome the basic principle of the commission's approach, which is to build upon the consensus that intellectual property enforcement policy ought to be focused on the fight against commercial scale infringement activity. 

It is clearly no one's intention to criminalise individual users but to apply a so-called 'follow the money' approach which aims at depriving commercial scale infringers of their revenues.

I believe that everybody involved in the current discussion shares the idea contained within the action plan which is to arrive at a renewed consensus on how intellectual property rights are exercised. To achieve this we need to better understand the challenges of the changing digital environment that goes hand-in-hand with rapidly changing technologies. 

"The commission's approach […] ought to be focused on the fight against commercial scale infringement activity"

There is no doubt that all these new opportunities have changed the behaviour of users. We need to understand this change before proposing awareness campaigns. I am of the opinion that this can no longer be done in the old fashioned way and needs to also take into account the legitimate expectations of users.

There has not been sufficient progress made in developing new business models that could provide users with new ways of accessing legal content, therefore I would like to reiterate that the commission and member states should put more pressure on industry to develop acceptable offers that are diversified and attractive. 

Regarding enforcement, it is clear to me that the discussion should start with the current intellectual property legislation and the ways it could be amended. 

Further assessment should be carried out on the application of the intellectual property rights enforcement directive and the limitations of the legal framework as regards online activities. 

We need to give the EU a comprehensive strategy, which should include as far as infringement is concerned and in addition to the non-legislative actions presented by the commission, a strong legal framework.

Even before this reform could take place we should focus on helping small and medium sized enterprises to be in a better position as regards intellectual property rights enforcement, by developing business to business services, such as mediation.

I hope we can find a common understanding on this important issue in order to be able to provide an effective set of measures which could protect intellectual property rights throughout the EU. I believe this is an area where all European institutions should work together and I hope that the upcoming discussion will be followed by continued cooperation.


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