Feeds

Does new Europe law mean slammer for DRM crackers?

Unclear and present danger

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Forthcoming EU legislation could criminalise Europeans who circumvent copyright protection.

Fears that the pending European Union Copyright Directive could lead to a European re-run of the Dmitri Sklyarov prosecution were much in evidence during the recent Campaign for Digital Rights mini-conference at London's City University.

But Matthew Rippon, of Ipswich law firm Prettys Solicitors, says such fears are misplaced and that the EUCD will lead to only civil - not criminal - court actions in Europe.

He said the EUCD only requires that the member states provide "legal protection" for use of and information about Digital Right Management technologies.

"Basically the EUCD creates the means for rights holders to take civil action to prevent the removal of DRM. Every legal commentator that I have read on the subject speaks only of civil sanctions," said Rippon.

Rippon argues that the EUCD is quite different from America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which imposes "express criminal sanctions" against those "who destroy rights management information".

"As a Linux user myself, I am as concerned about the growth of DRM as the next guy, but this hysteria has to stop. Yes the DMCA's criminal sanctions are evil, but we've had pro-DRM sanctions on the statute books for almost 15 years (see Copyright Designs and Patents Act s296) and has the sky fallen in?"

Martin Keegan, one of the founder members of the Campaign for Digital Rights (CDR), said whether breaking copyright protection will be criminalised "depends on the implementation and enforcement in each member state of the EU".

There are two threads to the directive (A6.1 and A6.2), dealing with banning circumvention and the devices which assist it, he explained.

UK laws already ban devices, but there have very few uses of this law.

"It's unlikely that the UK will criminalise circumvention; that'll just be actionable in the civil courts," Keegan.

However "other European nations may be softer or harder on the laws and implementation", he added.

This is ironic since one of the aims of the EUCD is to standardise laws across Europe, but in practice, the directive may lead to greater diversity.

So far the EUCD has received little attention but the CDR aims to mobilise opposition against the directive, which the Recording and Publishing Industries are heavily lobbying. The CDR is also protesting against music industry plans to market copy-protected CDs.

National governments have until December 22 to incorporate the directive in national legislation. ®

Related Stories

Alan Cox attacks the European DMCA
Sony turns courts on PS mod-chip makers
Brit music indies want copy-protected CDs
Digital right lobbyists picket UK record stores
UK campaigners call for anti 'anti-rip' CD day of action
Sklyarov/ElcomSoft case sent to trial
US courts kowtow to entertainment industry
Senator brutalizes Intel rep for resisting CPRM
Stealth copy protection - where we are now

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?