Recording industry lobbyist appointed head of copyright for European Commission

Maria Martin-Prat, who took a leave from her job at the European Commission to work as Deputy General Counsel and Director of Legal Policy and Regulatory Affairs for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI — thee international version of the RIAA, CRIA and BPI, though they’re all basically the same companies), has returned to the EC to run its copyright unit. While Martin-Prat was enjoying her holiday as a lobbyist for the industry she now regulates, she took a number of extremist copyright positions, including lobbying against the private copying exemption (part of European Fair Dealing), and arguing that it should be illegal to break the DRM on the media you buy, even if you don’t violate copyright in doing so.

Christian Engström, Pirate MEP, writes, “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.”

Two MEPs are openly questioning Martin-Prat’s appointment. Liberal Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake and Swedish Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström have written to the European Commission, asking, “Does the Commission not see any problems in recruiting top civil servants from special interest organisations, especially when being put in charge of dossiers directly related to their former employers? If not, why not?

“Does the Commission feel that such an appointment would help to build confidence with the European Parliament and the general public that the Commission can be trusted to handle copyright-related issues in a fair and balanced manner?”

Maria Martin-Prat reported to replace Tilman Lueder as head of unit for copyright at European Commission (via /. and Ars Technica)