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Raid on Spider Man DVDs piracy factory

BSA seeks tougher piracy sanctions

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More than 10,000 pirate Spider Man and Star Wars: Episode II DVDs and 31 DVD burners were seized in the UK, in a raid carried out by Surrey Trading Standards and Hampshire Police.

The illegal copies of the movies were made in a pirate DVD-R factory, after they were downloaded from the Internet.

The raid was welcomed by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which is calling for tougher enforcement measures to combat piracy in general.

This summer the European Union is o issue an Enforcement Directive, giving teeth to the controversial European Union Copyright Directive.

At a piracy seminar in Madrid this week, representatives of the European film, music, business and interactive leisure software sectors jointly called for "strong legal remedies to fight the epidemic of piracy".

Lisa Peets, legal counsel for the BSA Europe, referring to the BSA's statistic that one third of software packages in use are illegal, said it needed "more effective search and seizure" rules in its fight against piracy.

She said that obtaining civils order for search and seizure in the UK is expensive, and obtaining orders in other EU states can be beset with delays. Current criminal penalties and damages for piracy are too limited, according to the BSA, which is pressing for stiffer penalties.

The BSA argues that under the current regime "pirates are taking advantage of inconsistencies in EU national laws to carry out their operations".

Critics of the EUCD argue that it extends European copyright legislation so that it is even more restrictive than America's controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Put simply, the EUCD creates the means for rights holders to take legal action to prevent the removal of Digital Rights Management technology, itself controversial not least through the recent release of copyright protected audio discs, which can't be played on PCs - or worse. There's also concerns about the effect the EUCD could have on legitimate security research, Linux development and disable access to digital content.

The DMCA grants limited permission to circumvent copyright protection in order to make Braille copies of eBooks for use by the blind, for example, but the EUCD makes such exceptions optional for member states, so they need not be implemented.

The BSA's Peets argued spiritedly "the Directive takes great care to find a fair balance between all the rights and interests involved, including right holders and users".

"While people cannot circumvent a technological protection measure, they are nonetheless ensured of being able to enjoy the exception given to them (under Article 5.3b) to create works accessible by the disabled," she said.

The directive (Article 6.2) extends protection only to "effective" technological measures, so ineffective measures aren't protected.

"In other words, if I just stick a post-it on a CD saying 'don't copy', and you pull it off, you haven't violated the prohibitions in the Copyright Directive," said Peets.

Which is nice. ®

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