Norwegian Government suggests new laws on digital piracy, and the European Commission wants change too!

June 2011

Internet, all areas

Norway has proposed amendments to its copyright law to make it easier for content owners to tackle online piracy, though the Norwegian government has shied away from a “three-strikes” system, focusing on making it easier for content owners to get orders against individual filesharers and to get injunctions to order ISPs to block copyright infringing websites.

Norway will relax data protection rules to allow actions to proceed against individuals and will simplify the process by which rights owners can force ISPs to reveal the name and contacts of suspected file-sharers based on the IP address they are using.

Secondly there will be a new proposed injunction system which will make it easier for the content industries to get websites guilty of copyright infringement.

Spain also decided to go the speedy injunction route instead of establishing some sort of three-strikes process that targets actual individual file-sharers. In America the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seized another eight domains of websites it alleges are engaged in offering unauthorized copyright or counterfeit goods. In November 2010 over 70 domains were seized, and a number of similar seizures that have taken place since then. New sites targeted in Monday’s actions included;;;;;; and  Norway’s government is now asking for comment on the proposals.

And in news related to this and the UK review by Ian Hargreaves, the European Commission ALSO set a new blueprint for IP rights to boost creativity and innovation. EU Internal Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier said in a statement  “Ensuring the right level of protection of intellectual property rights in the single market is essential for Europe’s economy,” adding “Our aim today is to get the balance between these two objectives right for IPR across the board.”

The Report included the view that whilst Trade Mark registration in the EU has been harmonised in Member States for almost 20 years and the Community trade mark was established 15 years ago, there is an increasing demand for more streamlined, effective and consistent registration systems. That noted, the report says that the Commission intends to present proposals in 2011 to modernise the trade mark system both at EU and national levels and adapt it to the Internet era. With copyright two things are looked at – Multi-territorial copyright licensing (a recurring theme!) and Digital Libraries. The Report notes that whilst the substantive scope of copyright has been largely harmonised, rights are still licensed on a national basis. In view of the digital Single Market, streamlining copyright licensing and revenue distribution is one of the most important challenges that must be addressed. In the 2nd half of 2011, the Commission will submit a proposal to create a legal framework for the efficient multi-territorial collective management of copyright, in particular in the music sector. It will also establish common rules on the transparent governance and revenue distribution. In the second half of 2011, the Commission will also launch a consultation on the various issues related to the online distribution of audiovisual works. With Digital libraries the EC notes that the creation of European digital libraries that preserve and disseminate Europe’s rich cultural and intellectual heritage is key to the development of the knowledge economy. To facilitate this, the Commission is also tabling today a legislative proposal that will enable the digitisation and online availability of so-called “orphan works” (works like books and newspaper or magazine articles that are still protected by copyright but where the right holders are not known or cannot be located to obtain copyright permissions).

Finally there are proposals to revise the IPR Enforcement Directive which provides for civil law measures allowing right holders to enforce their intellectual property rights which the EC feels should be adapted, in particular to meet the specific challenges of the digital environment. The Report notes that  music industry figures say that  illegal downloads cost European music, movie, and TV industries over €10 billion ($14.05 billion) in 2008. It has proposed a regulation to give extra powers to the European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy, a public-private group set up to protect intellectual property rights. The commission will also work out a strategy to tackle what it calls the “complex phenomenon” of illegal music downloading. “All options are on the table,” according to a note provided by Mr. Barnier. Internet service providers, or ISPs, will also be subject to scrutiny, an approach requested by certain record industry representatives which could include giving consumers who illegally download a warning before their Internet connection is limited or suspended. Asked about ISPs’ role, Mr. Barnier said he was currently approaching the industry and “inviting them to co-operate with us” on fighting piracy, adding that The Netherlands “looks like a good model.”

One area that doesn’t seem to have received much attention is a debate about the ‘transformative right’ or something analogous to that. Many young musicians I know are fairly horrified when the discover each and every sample they use needs to be cleared – at least for the sound recording. Hip hop recording artistes and others in urban and other genres where sampling is considered normal practice often think they are using ‘sounds’ to create new works – not ripping of older works, It’s a thorny issue and one not covered by ‘fair use’ in the USA – certainly for the use of sound recordings – and unless for parody of a song it seems. A new generation of musicians often want to make a living out of music too – but they want to be able to use music and recordings in new innovative ways –  a difficult matter to legislate for but one where the law is seemingly out of step with at least part of the music making community.

And more the EC proposals see John Enser on the 1709 Blog at

No Comments

Comments are closed.