EU’s Reding: Balance copyright, Internet freedom

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has called for governments to strike a balance between policing the Internet to protect copyright and upholding freedom of expression.

“The protection of creators must never be used as pretext to intervene in the freedom of the Internet,” Reding told the DLD conference on innovation, digital media, science and culture in Munich, noting the “heated debate” surrounding the issue.

Reding warned against an overzealous approach that could have a chilling effect on the industry. “You’ll never have from Europe a blocking of the Internet – that’s not the European option,” she said. “Freedom of information and copyright must not be enemies, they are partners. European policy aims at equilibrating the respect of both rights.”

Reding’s comments were in reaction to initiatives in the US to crack down on hundreds of websites accused of offering pirated music or movies or counterfeit goods, as well as calls for new legislation to protect intellectual property.

US authorities have seized more than 350 website domain names since launching an anti-online piracy campaign – Operation In Our Sites – more than 18 months ago, including the recent closure of file-sharing site Megaupload.com.

US congressional leaders put strict anti-online piracy legislation on hold following a wave of protests led by Google and Wikipedia denouncing the bills as a threat to Internet freedom.

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