April 7, 2008

Commission withholds key study on criminal measures from European Parliament

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Brussels, 7 April 2008 — Four years after the European Commission first proposed criminal measures against infringements of so called intellectual property rights, the Commission has started a study to find out whether such measures are actually needed. The study was started half a year after the European Parliament concluded its first reading on the latest proposal, IPRED2, the Criminal Measures directive.

In answer to a written question by MEP Nicola Zingaretti, the Commission writes: “At the end of September 2007, the Commission launched a questionnaire addressed to the Member States in order to conduct a study on the situation of the intellectual property legislation in the Member States.”

The Member States had pointed out that such a study was missing. Community legislation has to be proportional and comply with the subsidiarity principle. In the case of Community criminal law both the objective of the Community and the measures have to be essential as well.

FFII analyst Ante Wessels says: “We welcome the fact the Commission admits that a study is necessary. But the study should have been concluded before the proposal was written. The European Parliament could not properly assess the necessity of criminal measures while this essential study was missing. We believe the present proposal should be withdrawn and the Council should refuse to proceed with it.”

On 20 March 2008, the Official Journal of the European Union published a controversial and contested version of the IPRED2 European Parliament (EP) consolidated text. This happened despite formal objections raised on 4 December 2007 by MEP and shadow rapporteur Eva Lichtenberger. In the contested version, an amendment already adopted by the EP is missing. EP Secretary-General Harald Rømer refuses to release documents about this matter, stating on the first of April that “The requested letter contains elements related to a matter not yet concluded by the European Parliament” and that there is no “overriding public interest in disclosure”. The pertinent amendments have also been removed from the EP website.

Background information

The full formal name of the IPRED2 proposal is Amended proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rights (COM/2006/0168 final – COD 2005/0127).

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About FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More than 1,000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights in data processing.