[FSFE PR][EN] IPRED: A Hushed Up Directive

press at tristage.fsfeurope.org press at tristage.fsfeurope.org
Sun Mar 7 18:09:01 CET 2004


[for immediate distribution]

IPRED: A Hushed Up Directive

 
The EU parliament in Strasbourg is about to debate the "Intellectual
Property Rights Enforcement Directive" (IPRED), which further
restricts European law on copyright, patents and other unspecified
"intellectual property rights." [1] The directive's rapporteur is
French MEP Janelly Fourtou, wife of the head of Vivendi Universal [2],
a group of media and telecommunications companies.

 
The directive was presented by the legal commission for the internal
market in January 2003 [3] then further elaborated behind closed doors
to be set on an accelerated course for approval, one normally reserved
for directives on which there is already unanimous agreement and does
not allow for public debate by citizens, political forces and civil
rights groups.

 
The directive proposes to harmonizes national laws and to combat
"piracy" [4] based on statistics, analysis and market forecasts
provided by the BSA [5] and other content providers that predict the
birth of hundreds of thousands of jobs in Europe (paragraph 2.C, page
10 of the directive); to that end it considers equal unintentional
illicit copies not made for profit and those made on a large scale for
profit -- and authorizes the rights' holders to hire private police to
raid a suspect¹s home (Article 11).

An international coalition of civil rights and consumer groups has
formed to sound the alarm on the risks of this directive and to try
and limit the damages [6], creating a Campaign for an Open Digital
Environment that will meet March 8 from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm in
Strasbourg outside the European Parliament.

 
Participants include IP Justice[8], European Digital Rights (EDRi)[9],
Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR)[10], Foundation for
a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)[11] and Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF)[12].

 
The Free Software Foundation Europe has added its voice to the chorus
of protests.

"The directive is extremely dangerous and delicate, it was not debated
in a democratic manner. We believe that every law involving immaterial
output should be closely evaluated by our elected representatives and
citizenry to avoid accepting passively the interests of some companies
operating in that sector and ignoring the rights of citizens, content
producers and independent operators, " said Alessandro Rubini, who
writes both free software programs and manuals.

 
Among the dangers:

- The sweeping breadth of the directive, which covers copyright,
  patents, trademarks, satellite and cable transmissions, data bases,
  software etc., does not give a precise definition of "intellectual
  property," an expression that has different definitions in various
  countries nullifying the pretense of harmony.

- It puts into discussion civil liberties like privacy, fair use for
  non-commercial purposes of material under copyright for teaching
  purposes or research, the legal safe-guards (that cover, for example,
  the right to be heard in legal proceedings) and the right of
  self-expression.

- It reinforces the control over use and distribution over
  technological devices through the imposition of unilateral licenses
  susceptible to modification or repeal in any moment and for any
  reason.

- It prohibits the deactivation, neutralization, removal or
  manipulation of RFID (Radio Frequency ID) devices that transmit
  information via radio frequencies the location and movements of an
  individual.

- Use of private police forces paid by media companies to search
  private homes of those suspected of violating the law. These types of
  raids were formerly only possible in the UK where the "Anton Piller"
  measures could be extended to commercial violations. With this
  directive it would extend to all European citizens.

- An appeal of the Mareva injuction by which it will be possible to
  freeze bank accounts and property of those suspected of violating
  the law before they can appear before the authorities investigating
  the presumed crime.

- The confiscation and destruction of machines and instruments of
  Internet provides (ISP) based only on the suspicion that their users
  are violating the law.

 
For further details and updates on the March 8 protest in Strasbourg:

 http://www.ipjustice.org/CODE/

 
REFERENCES

[1] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#IntellectualProperty
[2] http://www.vivendiuniversal.com/
[3] http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/it/com/pdf/2003/com2003_0046it01.pdf
[4] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#Piracy
[5] http://global.bsa.org/eupolicy/copyright/index.phtml
[6] http://www.ipjustice.org/CODE/release20040302_en.shtml
[7] http://www.ipjustice.org/CODE/rally.shtml
[8] http://www.ipjustice.org/
[9] http://www.edri.org/
[10] http://www.fipr.org/
[11] http://www.ffii.org/
[12] http://www.eff.org/
[13] http://www.ipjustice.org/CODE/whitepaper.shtml

 

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