[Fsfe-ie] Enforcement Directive mark two

David O'Callaghan david.ocallaghan at cs.tcd.ie
Wed Jul 13 15:34:46 CEST 2005


On 13/07/05 13:31, Malcolm Tyrrell wrote:
> If the economic effect is significant enough, then an argument for
> centralised policing could be made along the following lines:
> 1. Companies which produce IP are valuable to the economy.
> 2. They cannot themselves afford to persue all individuals and
> companies
> infringing their property.
> 3. The economic damage due to the infringement of their IP is high.
> 4. Even though there is a cost attached to policing on their behalf,
> the net benefit is positive.

Sure, but the proponents of the directive must make the case that the 
economic damage due to infringements outweighs the positive effects of 
infringement, and defend the negative effects of stricter enforcement.

> Some hypothetical examples:
> * Musician who sells his/her own music on the net cannot afford
> to persue everyone who obtains his/her music without paying.
> * A small Irish designer clothing company couldn't afford to persue
> numerous counterfit outfits importing fake goods ariving
> from oversees?

These are interesting examples but not, I suspect, the main targets of 
large-scale commercial counterfeiting, e.g.:

  * A musician who is signed to a large record company, where the record 
company pursues infringements as the legal copyright hoders.

  * Large clothing brands whose trademarks are commonly used on 
counterfeit clothes.

While I think such organisations are entitled to copyrights and 
trademarks, they probably would be able to cover the costs of civil 
litigation. The problem for companies like this is that it may be 
difficult to track down the sources of counterfeit goods. It would be 
pretty bad PR for them to take expensive civil proceedings against 
obvoius targets, like market stall holders, who couldn't afford to 
defend such a case.

As an aside, we should be aware of the fallacy that every counterfeit 
item sold is a lost sale for a real item: someone who buys a fake Rolex 
probably wouldn't consider buying a real one for 100s or 1000s of euro.

To bring this more specifically back to Free Software, what bad effects 
could this have for us? I suppose the main threat is to free software 
that works around dodgy DRM schemes in order to make use of media on 
unsupported platforms, which could be used for copyright infringement. 
What are the other threats to Free Software from this directive?


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