EU Representative: Ukraine Must Tighten Noose on Internet Pirates

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According to the head of the trade section of the European Commission's delegation to Ukraine, the country risks damaging relations with the EU over Internet piracy. Nicholas Burge says that legal action against the operators of pirate sites must be supported by ISPs bearing responsibility for hosting them.

download-keyboardDespite its proximity to European countries with strong intellectual property laws, Ukraine tends to fall behind when it comes to online piracy.

As a result, the site has played host to a wide range of prominent sites over the years, not least The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent.

As a result of its lax approach, Ukraine has been criticized on many occasions by the United States, particularly by the USTR who regularly brands the country as a piracy haven. This week it was the European Commission’s time to chime in.

In an interview with Ukrainian news outlet Unian, Nicholas Burge, head of the trade section of the European Commission’s delegation to Ukraine, expressed his opinions on where the country needs to improve.

“There should be a law that would provide a major responsibility for the contents of pirate sites. We will only believe in Ukraine’s serious intentions to fight pirate sites when there are penalties for those involved in supporting them,” he said.

Given moves underway in both the US and EU that could affect safe harbors for Internet service providers and hosting platforms, it’s no surprise that Burge wants Ukraine to take a firmer line with those present in Ukraine, especially those playing host to pirate sites.

“Internet service providers should also bear some legal responsibility for what they do. Otherwise, putting an end to online piracy will be impossible,” he said.

The EU representative said that this would have been possible under recent draft legislation designed to protect the film industry, but the amendments were vetoed by the President and never put into place.

“We urge Parliament to consider and adopt appropriate amendments to the law as soon as possible,” Burge said.

While Ukraine isn’t known for taking a hard line against pirate sites, it would be wrong to suggest it does nothing at all. Only recently, Ukrainian police acted on a complaint from the MPAA to close down, one of the country’s largest pirate sites. Sixty servers were seized and 19 people arrested. However, Burge believes more needs to be done.

“One site was closed and another appeared. This is a battle that is constantly going on,” he said.

According to comments made to Unian, Burge said that by neglecting intellectual property rights, Ukraine is not fulfilling its obligations under the Association Agreement with the EU and risks damaging relationships with the economic and political union.

“In case of default, the Agreement provides for appropriate mechanisms to deal with such situations within our relationships,” Burge said.

In addition to new criticism from the EU, Ukraine already faces annual complaints from the United States Trade Representative. In its latest Special 301 Report, the USTR kept Ukraine on its Priority List, meaning the country must make significant improvements if it is to meet US standards for IP protection.


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