IP Observatory: Pirate Party standpoint work
As reported earlier by Christian Engström there are EU plans ahead for an IP Observatory in the EU. The measure, advocated by Charles McCreevy (also Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services), is a way to get to terms with IPR infringements and maintenance through extra-legal means. In practise, a way to enhance enforcement without resorting to introducing new legislation.
As with many EU initiatives, the measure is slightly misguided and the solutions it proposes to the perceived problems are as well. For instance, consumers are degraded to passive observers, to be lectured and kept in check by benevolent industry representatives and legislators. As far as I can see, this is contrary to the Union’s own ambitions for consumers, although I must admit that the Union’s confidence in consumer ability to take an active part in consumer interests is over-all a bit bleak.
Another weak (upsetting?) point is the promotion of stakeholder dialogues. We also saw references to stakeholder dialogues in the Telecoms package directive 2002/22/EC art 33, in which the ”dialogue” consisted of ISPs and record labels agreeing to take measures against copyright infringements. In general, I feel adverse to private entities mingling to sort out effects or punishment from crimes outside of the judiciary system. Comparably, when dialogues have been created between police authorities and ISPs to decrease occurrences of child pornography, most observers have agreed users can readily avoid the partnership while user confidence in both the police and the ISPs decreases. In the copyright infringement debate, this suggests that record labels will get even more unpopular, while ISPs will share their downfall. I am actually looking for additional material on this: does anyone know if there are other sectors where the state has mingled in consumer-business interaction to the detriment of consumer confidence in that business sector?
After getting help from a commentator to my last post, I have had the opportunity to further map small and medium-sized enterprises’ interaction with intellectual property rights. Based on the Technopolis report and a study on IPRs and SMEs in ASEAN nations I can, unsurprisingly, conclude that SMEs probably need other means of support from the EU than information on IPRs. IPRs, also unsurprisingly, further seem to be integrated in SME strategies mostly as business strategies, rather than a way to protect innovation, and as the Technopolis report suggests SMEs typically innovate too fast for IPRs to be a comfortable protection. SMEs use innovation to stay competitive, not patents ;)
I am trying to work out a pirate point of view on the suggestion of an IP Observatory. The groundwork can be found here, even if much of the detailed analysis presented above is lacking on the wiki page. A parallel project and concern is pharmaceutical patents and competition and the implementation of art 290 TEU. I’ve recently gotten around to start my project to map EU bilateral relations with other ACTA negotiation partners, but yes, did not reach very far (working on Morocco now).