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EFF takes up arms against Euro copyright move

Brandishes web petition

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The European wing of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has taken on the might of the European Commission by beginning its opposition to IPRED2, the proposed new directive that aims to harmonise European copyright laws.

The organisation has launched a web-based petition here that it wants you to sign up to.

The EFF is concerned about several things in the draft of the Criminal Measures IP Directive that will come before parliament this month. It argues that the legislators have failed to define their terms clearly enough (a common enough accusation against EC policy makers) and that they have introduced new offences that will harm legitimate businesses.

Their new site says: IPRED2's new crime of "aiding, abetting and inciting" infringement again takes aim at innovators, including open source coders, media-sharing sites like YouTube, and ISPs that refuse to block P2P services.

"With the new directive, music labels and Hollywood studios will push for the criminal prosecution of these innovators in Europe, saying their products 'incite' piracy - with EU taxpayers covering the costs."

Rapporteur Nicola Zingaretti has made sure a number of safeguards did make their way into the draft, however. For example, the draft specifically excludes commercial rights that are patent protected, and excludes personal use from the criminal sanctions of the bill.

In article 2, part b, the draft defines "commercial scale" infringement as "any infringement of an intellectual property right committed to obtain a commercial advantage; this would exclude acts carried out by private users for personal and not for profits purposes".

However, the EFF is concerned that this definition is not tight enough, and that lack of clarity over what constitutes personal and private use leaves the way open for all our digital freedoms to be restricted.

Parliament will vote on the draft on 24 April. ®

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