[Fsfe-ie] NY Times on 'EU Antipiracy proposal' (fwd)
jm at jmason.org
Mon Oct 20 20:07:51 CEST 2003
Europe's Antipiracy Proposal Draws Criticism
By PAUL MELLER
Published: October 20, 2003
BRUSSELS, Oct. 19 - In an effort to fight product counterfeiting and
piracy, the European Union is preparing to enact a sweeping intellectual
property law that critics say is ill-conceived and tilted heavily in
favor of copyright and patent holders.
The proposal would go far beyond existing laws in Europe and the United
States by classifying copyright violations and patent infringements,
even some unwitting ones, as crimes punishable by prison terms.
Lawyers who have studied a draft of the proposed law say that not only
could a teenager who downloaded a music file be sent to jail under it;
so too could managers of the Internet service provider that the teenager
happened to use, whether they knew what the teenager was doing or not.
The proposed law would also make it easier for drug manufacturers to
forestall generic competition by effectively stretching the duration of
their patents, the critics say, and even the makers of replacement auto
parts could face prosecution if they sell their wares to consumers.
Backers of the proposed law, which would replace a patchwork of
regulations in the union's 15 member countries, include influential
European Union officials like Frits Bolkestein, the union's commissioner
for internal markets, whose department drafted the proposed law, and
Janelly Fourtou, the French member of the European Parliament who is in
charge of leading the debate on it.
[.... etc. BTW Janelly Fourtou is the wife of the chief executive
of Vivendi Universal, owners of one of the world's largest record
companies, according to this! she says:]
The commission's original draft limited criminal penalties to those who
violate copyrights "for commercial purposes" - language that would exclude
consumers swapping music files.
But Ms. Fourtou has struck that limitation from the amended text of the
proposed law. "In this sense, the scope of the directive is too narrow,"
she said. "Even if you aren't downloading music for profit, you still are
having a very negative effect on authors and musicians. Even a young boy
who does it innocently causes an economic countereffect.
"The Internet is a new way of living for young people," she continued. "It
would be very good to send out a message to them, teach them right from
Ms. Fourtou said the change also brought the proposed law into line with
World Trade Organization agreements on intellectual property and with "the
wishes of a large number of professionals," referring mainly to the record
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