[ffii] Fourtou Directive passed

PILCH Hartmut phm at a2e.de
Tue Mar 9 21:57:41 CET 2004

The Fourtou report on intellectual property passed today as the rapporteur
wished. This means that the package proposed by Mrs Fourtou (and supported by
her own group (PPE-DE = conservatives and christian democrats), the PSE, the
ELDR and the UEN) after unofficial meetings with the Council working group and
the Commission was adopted in it's entirety.  All other amendments - those
from Greens, GUE, Marco Cappato and EDD - were defeated.

Most of the votes were "roll calls", put down as a sign by PPE-DE to their
members not to vote against the party line.

The majority in all the roll call votes was of the order 300-350 with Fourtou,
100-200 against.  Among the opponents were many austrian and finnish members
of PPE-DE.  Details of the vote are collected at


The result means:

- patents are included within the scope of the directive.  This is of serious
  concern to a number of sectors including software developers and the free
  software movement, generic pharmaceutical companies, the automobile spare
  parts industry, farmers at threat from GM contamination etc.

- only 3 parts of the directive are limited to "commercial scale".  This means
  that the provisions of Articles 7(1), 8 and 9 can be used against consumers.

- there are concerns amongst ISPs that they can be attacked for "providing"
  the means to download content which is protected by copyright.

During the voting session, Neil MacCormick, scottish professor of law and MEP
for Greens/EFA, raised the issue of family connections in relation to
conflicts of interest.  This is in the light of numerous recent articles
highlighting Mrs Fourtou's husband being CEO of Vivendi Universal.  Pat Cox
indicated that this would be raised in the Parliament Bureau.

The results of roll call votes have not yet been published; however, it is
clear that most conservative, socialist and liberal delegations voted in such
a way as to defeat amendments on the scope and to support the final package.

Final vote was 330 to 151 with 39 abstentions.

On the key amendments:
Am 77 (Art 2.1: Scope of the directive)  307 to 185, 7 abstentions
Am 58 (Recital 13:  Patents)  193 to 310
Am 59 (Recital 13a:  Commercial Scale)  198 to 305

James Heald, coordinator of FFII UK who had been leading FFII's work on this
directive, summarises:

  We were only just over 50 MEPs away from success.

  It's not over.  More than for almost any other directive, what this directive
  will actually mean will depend on how it is implemented, member state by
  member state.

  It could allow surprise raids on teenagers in the middle of the night by
  private security firms on the flimsiest of evidence; -- or alternatively, such
  operations could be allowed only in the most exceptional conditions, only by
  official authorities, and only on the basis of the highest standards of

  We tried to write the safeguards into the directive itself.  We failed. 

  So over the next two years, we need to make absolutely sure that safeguards are
  written into every single one of the 25 different national implementations instead.

Hartmut Pilch, FFII & Eurolinux Alliance              tel. +49-89-18979927
Protecting Innovation against Patent Inflation	     http://swpat.ffii.org/
300,000 votes 2000 firms against software patents    http://noepatents.org/

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