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Exemptions exempted in Europe's DMCA

UK missing out

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The European equivalent DMCA is a done deal, but the implementation of opt-outs could make all the difference in each EU member state. And the United Kingdom is missing out.

Section 5.2 of the EU Copyright Directive provides a long list intended to protect cryptographers and academics, and preserve some notional 'fair use' for press and satirists, amongst others.

But the UK draft, published last week, has some key omissions.

"The Government has given us several but not all of the optional ones," says Julian Midgely, spokesman for the Campaign for Digital Rights.

The opt-outs are important: cryptographer Dmitri Sklyarov could not have been prosecuted under the EUCD for revealing details of Adobe's eBook encryption, but his employer Elcomsoft, most probably would have been liable for distributing software to bypass the crypto.

Midgely thinks the most onerous requirement is to ask the Secretary of State for access to these exemptions.

"It's quite common for an academic to play several samples of music to a class. He or she will now need to write the Secretary of State for permission for each sample, if the music is encrypted. It's ludicrous."

The EUCD also makes "providing a service" illegal, which would ensnare academics and publishers too.

However, it's not too late to point these out, ever so politely, to the British Patent Office, and start building momentum for a rewrite. The UK draft can be found here,
and the consultation process here

The battle was lost last year, with the entertainment lobby dominating the argument. Although it's less draconian, slightly, than the DMCA, it rather puts pay to the notion that Europeans are rather better and fighting the Pigopolists than the US, simply because the cheese is better here. (Which it is).

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