EU moves to criminalise IP offences

By EDRi · May 10, 2006

The European Commission has revived a proposal to criminalise
infringement of all intellectual property rights “on a commercial scale”
after a European Court of Justice ruling that the Commission may include
criminal offences in their Directives.

The proposal would also criminalise the “attempting, aiding or abetting
and inciting” of infringement, and introduce multi-year jail sentences,
confiscation of equipment and fines of hundreds of thousands of euros.
This goes much further than the EU’s obligations under the World Trade
Organisation’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights (TRIPS). Right holders could participate in police
investigations into infringement.

While the Commission focuses in its press release on counterfeiting
by organised criminal gangs, the legislation would have a much wider
effect. It could cover teenage file sharers, authors of file sharing and
DRM-circumvention software, and even incautious campaigners for
intellectual property law reform.

It is this type of outrageous legislative manoeuvring by large
intellectual property right holders and their allies in European and US
administrations that has brought IP law into such public disrepute.

Amended proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the
Council on criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of
intellectual property rights (26.04.2006)

Commission proposes criminal law provisions to combat intellectual property
offences (26.04.2006)

European Court of Justice ruling (13.09.2005)

(Contribution by Ian Brown, board-member EDRI)