Europe Talks Tough On Piracy and Copyright

Organised criminals are “freeloading on the ingenuity” of others, according to the European Commission

European authorities have outlined plans to combat piracy and counterfeiting which includes plans to protect intellectual property across the region and the ratification of an international law on copyright in development since 1996.

The European Commission and member states met in Stockhom this week to discuss plans around the European Observatory for Counterfeiting and Piracy – an agency established last April. According to European authorities, the Observatory was created to help develp a “databank” of intelligence on how best to combat the threats posed to innovation in the region by piracy and counterfeiting.

“The EU is a world pacesetter for innovation, culture and creativity. It is time to put a stop to organised criminals freeloading on the ingenuity and hard work of the most resourceful businesses in the world. Counterfeiting and piracy is an affliction that is bringing criminality ever closer to our doors,” said EC Internal Market and Services commissioner Charlie McCreevy.

McCreevy added that piracy threatens public safety and jobs in Europe. “More than this it places our hard earned money into the hands of criminals who have no conscience about using it to fund other forms of crime, including drugs and pornography. We must do more to protect ourselves and the Observatory is a fundamental step in bringing together Member States authorities, private businesses and consumers in a joint, concerted effort to rid ourselves of this dangerous problem,” he said.

In a separate announcement, McCreevy also revealed this week that the European Commission has ratified two pieces of copyright legislation which have been in development since 1996. The WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty “contain rules on distribution, rental, the right of public communication and the making available of protected content online,” according to the EC.

Although McCreevy did not comment on why the EC took so long to ratify the treaties, he said they are in important step in protecting content. “These two treaties brought protection up to speed with modern technologies. As the technological evolution accelerates, protecting creators and creative industries is more urgent than ever,” he said.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is an agency of the United Nations which the EC says is “dedicated to developing an international intellectual property (IP) system, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest”.

Earlier this month, European authorities said that establishing a patent enforceable across the whole of Europe could save companies in the region up to £260 million a year with plans in place to create a common European Patent Court.