EU warns against 'criminalising' filesharers

People should not be criminalised for the file-sharing of copyrighted material if they are not profiting from doing so, the European Parliament has recommended.

The parliament voted through two reports on the cultural industries. Both contained amendments that were directly related to the ongoing argument between the content industry and Internet service provider (ISPs). In this conflict, the ISPs are claiming that they should not have to disconnect those users who are persistent filesharers, but the content industry is calling for a "three strikes and you're out" rule in order to protect intellectual property.

One of the reports urged the European Commission and member states to avoid allowing measures that are in conflict with civil liberties, human rights and the principle of proportionality. The other, which passed with a much thinner majority, specifically called for the Commission to "rethink the issue of intellectual property in order to assure solutions that are equitable for both big and small actors and strike a balance between the respect of intellectual property and the access to cultural events and content".

A spokesperson for the parliament told's sister site that, while the reports were recommendations and not legally binding "People downloading from sites -- often they don't know that it's not legal".

The European Parliment report was criticised by The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) for being "badly drafted [and] rushed through".

However, IFPI has welcomed the news from France that filesharers of copyrighted material there may soon be thrown off the Internet. The organisation called the French move "the single most important initiative to help win the war on online piracy that we have seen so far".

What is IFPI?

IFPI Secretariat in London UK is responsible for co-ordinating international strategies in the key areas of the organisation's work - anti-piracy enforcement, technology, lobbying of governments and representation in international organisations, legal strategies, litigation and public relations. It is also the recording industry's most authoritative source of market research and information, providing a comprehensive range of global industry statistics.

It represents more than 1,450 record companies, large and small, in 75 different countries.