[Fsfe-ie] Press release:EU should target counterfeiters, not consumers

teresahackett at eircom.net teresahackett at eircom.net
Sun Mar 7 23:23:39 CET 2004

>From FIPR


Individuals could be caught in the crossfire of new piracy law

7 March 2004

A Europe-wide coalition of citizens and consumer rights groups is
calling on MEPs to support key amendments to a new law at the final
European Parliament vote on Tuesday 9 March. 

The directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights
contains strong powers targeted at commercial counterfeiters and
pirates. However, the law draft has recently been widened to cover *any*
infringement of intellectual property rights, however small,
unintentional or non-commercial. It would therefore cover consumers and
small businesses as well as the organised criminals the law was
originally aimed towards.

Without amendment, this legislation would:

* Let large companies raid premises, seize evidence and freeze the bank
accounts of smaller competitors in highly technical alleged patent
infringement cases

* Allow music companies to get court orders to raid the homes of alleged
music file sharers for evidence

* Give any number of licensees of intellectual property the right to
threaten their competitors with draconian legal mechanisms simply by
alleging infringement

* Threaten press freedom in several countries such as Spain that include
confidential information in their intellectual property laws

Amendments tabled by Marco Cappato MEP and the Green/EFA Group, the GUE
Group and the EDD Group would fix these problems with the law. Over one
hundred MEPs from across the political spectrum have already pledged
their support. But this debate is the last chance Parliament has to
stand up for EU citizens and small businesses before the law is passed
by EU governments later in the week.

Coalition members will be meeting outside the Parliament in Strasbourg
from 16.30-18.30 on Monday (8 March) to discuss these key issues with

Ian Brown, director of coalition-member the Foundation for Information
Policy Research (FIPR), said: "This law would best protect European
artists, inventors and citizens if restricted to commercial
counterfeiting and piracy. Otherwise it will lead to a flood of lawsuits
against small businesses and consumers that will discredit European law
in this area." 

EU citizens can help by contacting their MEPs on Monday or Tuesday and
asking them to support the Cappato and Green amendments. Contact details
are available at http://www.the-elected.com/showInstitution/1

Contact details
Ian Brown, Director, FIPR (London): ian at fipr.org or +44 7970 164 526
Andreas Dietl, EU Affairs Director, FIPR/EDRi (Strasbourg): +32 498 34
56 86
Teresa Hackett (Dublin): +353 87 6253768

More information

Notes for editors
1. The Foundation for Information Policy Research (http://www.fipr.org/)
is an independent body founded in 1998 that studies the interaction
between information technology and society. Its goal is to identify
technical developments with significant social impact, commission and
undertake research into public policy alternatives, and promote public
understanding and dialogue between technologists and policy-makers in
the UK and Europe.

Teresa Hackett
114 Cedar House
Mespil Estate, Sussex Road
Dublin 4, Ireland
Email: teresahackett at eircom.net
Dutch Mobile: +316 523 63486 (until 19.3.2004)
NEW! Irish Mobile +353 87 6253768

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