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European Telecoms Firms Warn That New IP Laws Could Have Implications For Broadband Roll-Out

by Ulrika Lomas, for LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

20 November 2003


The European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO) on Monday warned that increasing the scope of the draft EU Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Enforcement Directive could hamper the roll-out of broadband services across Europe.

The MEP charged with guiding the draft legislation through the European Parliament, Janelly Foutou has proposed an amendment which would remove the phrase "for commercial purposes" from the rules on copyright infringement, meaning that private individuals, as well as companies could be sued in the EU for activities such as peer-to-peer file sharing.

“Amendments to expand the directive’s scope would make its measures applicable to any and all infringement of IPR, regardless of intent, purpose or harm caused,” explained Michael Bartholomew, ETNO’s Director, continuing:

“This could have important consequences for the sector and the consumer if random, trivial or innocent acts are pursued with the full weight of this proposed rigorous enforcement system,”

He concluded by observing that:

“The peer-to-peer phenomenon shows there is great demand for content out there. Industry should respond by offering attractive business models that match this demand, and not by seeking to sue or prosecute customers.”


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