Published: 10.41 Europe/London, May 25, 2011

The European Commission has launched a major offensive against online piracy and proposed to modernise the EU’s intellectual property laws. Such piracy is estimated to have cost the European TV, movie, music and software industries some €10 billion in 2008 alone.

The Commission says its proposed changes would include creating a unitary patent-protection system; protecting brands more effectively through a modernised trademark system; and easing access to copyright-protected works, particularly online and including Europe’s cultural heritage. It adds that it will make specific proposals before 2014.

However, the Commission has already been warned by the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) against “imposing disproportionate and unjustifiable obligations on ISPs” such as monitoring what they distribute on their networks.

The Commission’s announcement coincided with the launch yesterday (May 24) of the first ever eG8 Forum in Paris ahead of this week’s G8 Summit.

Taking “the internet, accelerating growth” as its theme, it saw President Sarkozy give an opening speech in which, though praising the revolutionary effects of the internet on people’s lives, he warned that it could not be allowed to become a parallel universe or a replacement for traditional democracy.