Campaign against proposed IP Enforcement Directive
An international coalition of 39 civil liberties groups and consumer
rights organisations sent a letter to the European Union on 11 August
urging rejection of the proposed intellectual property enforcement
directive. The coalition warns that the proposed Directive is over-broad
and threatens civil liberties, innovation, and competition policy. The
proposal requires EU Member States to criminalise all violations of any
intellectual property right that can be tied to any commercial purpose,
with penalties to include imprisonment.
“If this proposal becomes a reality, major companies from abroad can use
‘intellectual property’ regulations to gain control over the lives of
ordinary European citizens and threaten digital freedoms”, said Andy
Muller-Maguhn, a board member of European Digital Rights (EDRI) and
speaker for the Chaos Computer Club. “Under this proposal, a person’s
individual liberty to use his own property is replaced with a limited
license that can be revoked or its terms changed at any time and for any
reason,” added the German civil rights activist.
“Currently EU-Member states are implementing the EU Copyright Directive
and the EU Software Patent Directive is next in the line. We should really
wait and see what effect these new laws have before adding any new
legislation,” said Ville Oksanen, a lawyer and Vice Chairman of Electronic
Frontier Finland (EFFi), a signatory on the organisational letter.
“Contrary to what the Enforcement Directive claims, Member States are
already obliged by international treaties like TRIPS to protect
intellectual property rights,” Oksanen continued.
In its letter to EU members, the coalition expressed particular concern
over Article 9 of the proposal, which gives intellectual property holders
broad new powers to obtain personal information about any European citizen
that is alleged to be connected to an infringement. Similar subpoena
powers created by the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act are abused by
the Recording Industry Association of America to obtain personal
information about thousands of users of file-sharing software. The
proposed IP Enforcement Directive would extend the ability to abuse this
power to Europe.
In conjunction with the publication of the letter, the international group
of activists launched the Campaign for an Open Digital Environment (CODE)
to raise awareness about the IP Enforcement proposals threat to consumer
rights and market competition. CODE encourages European citizens to
contact the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs and Internal Market
and urge the proposals rejection before the hearing of 11 September 2003
on its merits in Brussels.
CODE Letter urging rejection of EU IP Enforcement Directive
IP Justice White Paper on EU IP Enforcement Directive
Text of Proposed European Union IP Enforcement Directive