EU Passes the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive

The European Parliament has passed the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive, an anti-piracy law covering media and other copyrighted goods across the entire EU.

The new law has had an early amendment to restrict civil lawsuits to commercial counterfeiters and pirates such as those selling copied football shirts, CDs and videos. In it’s original form publishers could pursue individuals through the courts for downloading music and other media in good faith, rather like the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Civil liberties groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) still argue that the amendment is not enough and that individuals could still be prosecuted as under the new law. Companies are allowed to raid homes, freeze bank accounts and seize property though proposals for custodial sentences were dropped. In the US, organisations such as the RIAA used the DMCA to prosecute file sharers, and resulted in a number of unfortunate legal cases against children.

Interestingly, the new law was guided through the courts by Janelly Fourtou. By sheer coincidence, her husband is Jean-Rene Fourtou, chief executive of Vivendi Universal.

The EFF on the new law

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?