Silvia Costa’ opinion on EU action plan for IPR enforcement

Rapporteur welcomes (de) the EU Action Plan on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and, in particular, emphasises the importance of and supports the application of due diligence throughout the supply chain, the ‘follow the money’ approach, the improvement of civil enforcement procedures for SMEs as regards IP, the targeted communication campaign and the focus on commercial-scale IPR infringements.

The key objective of the action plan should be to ensure the effective, evidence-based enforcement of IPR, which plays a key role in stimulating innovation, creativity, competitiveness, growth and cultural diversity. Measures taken to enforce IPR should be based on precise, reliable data.

In a time of financial crisis, when funding for culture suffers from severe cuts, remuneration stemming from IPR is often a primary source of revenue for artists and creators. Attaining and safeguarding fair remuneration for artists, creators and rights holders should be one of the key objectives of the action plan.

In preventing commercial-scale IPR infringements, it is also important to expand the legal offering of diversified cultural and creative content online and to increase accessibility thereto. In the cultural and creative sector, in particular, cooperation, including on the basis of self-regulation, between rights holders, authors, platform operators, intermediaries and final consumers should be encouraged with a view to detecting IPR infringements at an early stage.

In the cultural and creative sector, payment service providers should be involved in the dialogue with a view to reducing the profits generated by IPR infringements in the online sphere. Where IPR infringements are committed by the public, this is sometimes because it is hard or impossible to find the desired content offered legally.

The system for the notification and removal, one URL at a time, of content that infringes IPR has practical limitations in view of the speed with which the content in question can be made available again. In Member States in which this is permitted by law, the blocking by a court ruling of internet sites which allow IPR infringements has practical limitations in the long term.

All the actors involved in the distribution chain should cooperate in the development of information campaigns which would allow consumers to have access to information on their rights and obligations, while easily accessing and using creative content. Modern pro-competitive and consumer-friendly copyright framework is needed, one that also supports creativity and innovation by guaranteeing a safe, adequate and secure environment for inventors and creators.

In order to achieve a meaningful enforcement of IPR, full information should include a clear indication of the type of IPR (for example patent, trademark, copyright), the identity of the owners and, where relevant, the status of its validity. In order to stimulate innovation and competitiveness in knowledge-based sectors in the Union, in a manner compatible with IPR, it is necessary to stimulate open research and knowledge sharing.

‘Cyberlocker’ platforms are one of the main hubs for IPR infringements, from which they indirectly derive income via advertising and/or subscriptions. IPR-infringing products not only cause the direct loss of revenue for legitimate businesses but also lead to direct and indirect job losses, reputational damage and increased enforcement costs, while often having links to organised crime and posing potential health and safety risks.