New report finds problems with EU copyright law
European citizens could find many common activities banned as the EU
Copyright Directive becomes law, a new report reveals. Transferring songs
from a copy-protected CD to a Walkman or computer could be illegal, as
could watching a DVD on a computer running Linux.
‘Implementing the EU Copyright Directive’, published 8 September 2003,
reports on legal developments across the EU as member states change their
laws to comply with the Directive (2001/29/EC).
It finds that it is now illegal in several countries such as Greece and
Germany to use copyrighted works such as CDs, films or electronic books in
ways restricted by the publisher. Offenders can be fined tens of thousands
of euros and imprisoned for several years.
Few EU countries provide an effective mechanism for consumers to make use
of their legal rights. Most require consumers to complain to a government
body, which may then take several months to enforce those rights. Nor do
these bodies include consumer representatives.
Little provision has been made to stop copyright law being used to raise
prices to consumers for items such as game console accessories or printer
cartridges. Without explicit protection, Europeans can expect to see this
type of anti-competitive behaviour cross the Atlantic, where it has become
common under a similar law (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act).
European research into computer security mechanisms will also be damaged.
On current plans, only German, Danish and Finnish scientists will be
allowed to investigate the effectiveness of measures that are being used
to protect copyright works. Ian Brown, editor of the report and
EDRI-member, said: “These new laws are removing European citizens’ rights.
They need to be rewritten to protect the owners of CDs, DVDs and e-books
as well as media companies.”
The report (08.09.2003)