Feeds

Does new Europe law mean slammer for DRM crackers?

Unclear and present danger

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

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

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.