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.