Some first thoughts on ACTA and EU competition policy

ACTA could have perverse anti-competitive effects on business models in the IT field. By strongly promoting copyright enforcement as a key function and legal responsibility of Internet Server Providers (under the guise of “self-regulation), it encourages the “functional bundling” of communication services and cultural content management.  In other words, ACTA helps builds a new legal environment in which risk taking in the content sector is inherent and obliged. Following this logic, content management and promotion should be integrated into the traditional business operations of Internet and Telecom servers.

The European Commission has in the past proposed “functional unbundling” in the Telecom sector (not to speak of the energy sector) on other structural grounds and there exists a general EU policy against the accumulation of sectors along the same production and service cycle.  Nevertheless, the legislative momentum created by ACTA and the forthcoming IPRED proposal will strongly enhance the possibilities of a certain “common destiny” of the content industry and ISPs, constructing a powerful common chain that at once delivers cultural and technological services.

Thus, we could be witnessing how a deeply flawed IPR enforcement policy, epitomized by ACTA and other measures, is helping to create a very “uneven playing field” with increasingly dominant, all-encompassing companies.

If this is the case, it is not good news for consumers, nor for new innovators nor for EU competition policy.

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