Europe on verge of criminalizing file-sharing
STRASBOURG — The European parliament pressed on Wednesday for a crackdown on film and music piracy on the Internet, raising fears among online rights groups that a new law will soon follow.
The European Union’s legislature adopted a non-binding resolution in a 328-245 vote calling for the creation within European law of the right to pursue people who violate intellectual property rights.
“We must apply on the Internet laws that protect intellectual property,” said the lead sponsor of the resolution, French conservative Marielle Gallo.
“Otherwise it will be a jungle, and in the jungle it is the law of the strongest that prevails,” she said.
The resolution, rejected by the Socialist opposition and the Green bloc, expresses regret about loopholes in anti-piracy law and the failure of negotiations on creating criminal sanctions against online pirates.
EU internal markets commissioner Michel Barnier told the parliament he would present later this year “an action plan on counterfeiting and piracy.”
Groups defending the rights of Internet users had lobbied for weeks against the resolution, which follows similar wishes in the European Commission and EU states.
“It can only worry us if the European parliament joins them,” said Jeremie Zimmermann, spokesman of French online organization La Quadrature du Net.
Among their concerns is the idea of allowing cooperation between Internet providers and copyright holders.
“Publishers would have an arrangement with providers to penalize Internet users, for example by restricting their bandwidth,” Zimmermann said. “This would happen outside the court system. For us it’s unacceptable.”