Music Industry Lobbyist Becomes Europe’s Copyright Boss

Over the years many pro-copyright groups have lobbied extensively for harsher anti-piracy legislation. In Europe, this task may now become a little easier, as a former music industry lobbyist has been appointed as the head of a unit that deals with copyright and enforcement issues at the European Commission. Among other things, the former IFPI employee will be tasked with pushing through the ACTA trade agreement.

ifpi to euJust a few days ago we witnessed a prime example of the revolving door phenomenon, as a former RIAA lobbyist turned federal judge got to rule on a case that had a direct impact on her former employee.

Today we bring another example, one that’s perhaps even more worrisome.

Those who read TorrentFreak regularly will be familiar with music industry lobby group IFPI. Crowned as the most active DMCA sender of 2010, IFPI are known for their aggressive anti-piracy tactics. Among other legal efforts, they were one of the driving forces behind the Pirate Bay trial.

At the same time IFPI has been lobbying in the political arena for more tools to combat online piracy, with varying results. However, due to a new appointment at the copyright and enforcement unit of the European Commission, it appears that IFPI’s influence might increase significantly.

Maria Martin-Prat, who was formerly employed as Director of Legal Policy and Regulatory Affairs at IFPI, has now been selected to lead the EU unit that deals with copyright and enforcement issues. Among other things, she will be in charge of trying to get the controversial ACTA anti-piracy agreement accepted.

This means that Martin-Prat, whose previous job was to convince politicians that more restrictive copyright legislation is needed to deal with online piracy, is now responsible for shaping future copyright laws at the European Commission. Needless to say, it’s likely that her view on copyright won’t be the most objective one.

Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom is not happy with the appointment, to say the least. However, knowing the ins and outs of the European Commission and the dominance of lobby groups, it comes as no surprise.

“Welcome to the European Union, where the big business lobby organizations are calling most of the shots at the Commission, and where citizens are just seen as a nuisance to be ignored. I guess the only real news is that they don’t even bother to try to hide it any more,” he said in response to the announcement.

With the appointment of Martin-Prat, Europeans should brace themselves for more restrictive copyright legislation, and more effective enforcement of current laws. Meanwhile, IFPI members will be cracking open bottles of Champagne and dancing with excitement in their offices.

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