Copyright Clampdown Coming To Europe: The EUCD Is Here
I am part of a group of citizens who are concerned about control over digital media.
In particular, I am, like others, very worried about proposed laws, regulations and technological systems that will make digital media more expensive, less useful, less diverse and less democratic.
Photo credit: Stephen Grey
This is what is coming up that I am most afraid of:
Music. The same companies that have shut down the Napster service are now making music CDs that cannot be used in computers. This will make portable digital music devices such as Apple's iPod useless (unless you buy into the record labels grand scheme). The European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD) will make programs that try to read such crippled CDs illegal.
Video. Digital television and the so-called IPTV, will partly replace conventional television in the next few years. With it will come technology and laws that will make it impossible to record certain programs. Or to skip adverts. Again, the EUCD will make it illegal to try to get round these systems.
DVDs and computer games. This month, a small company that modified the PlayStation 2 to play imported games and DVDs was prosecuted and driven out of business by Sony. Region-free DVD players may be next.
Internet. Feel like having someone's website removed? Just write to their ISP alleging that they've infringed your copyright! You don't have to prove anything or go to court, and there's no penalty for lying. The ISP will be obliged to remove the website even if its owner has done nothing wrong. This will happen, frequently, if the EUCD becomes law.
Academic freedom. Last year, a Russian went to the United States to present a paper on cryptography. He was arrested, because the paper described how to read certain kinds of electronic book (Acrobat PDF). After a huge public furore, the charges were dropped and he was allowed home. His employer in Russia still faces charges in California. The EUCD will ban unauthorised reading of electronic books.
Public Libraries. How are libraries going to rise to the challenge of making digital information freely available to the public? If certain big copyright owning companies have their way, they won't be able to lend out digital media. The "digital divide" between rich and poor will grow as digital media becomes more expensive, unless libraries are allowed to bridge it.
Have had enough? Want to know more?
Live in France?
As a matter of fact, according to the news that started to emerge at the end of November, France may be the first European country to enact what appear to be the worst copyright law ever adopted in Europe, while facilitatin gthis process by sneaking its legislative session on the December 22 and 23 dates.
Europe's equivalent to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a controversial directive called the EUCD. Each EU state is responsible for implementing the minimum set of EUCD restrictions (which are far from minimal!) but each state can exceed the minimum, and the entertainment lobby pushes hard to see to it that they do.
They've run amok in France, subverting the lawmaking process with a farcical wish-list of penalties, mandates and software bans.
Copyfighters in France have published a detailed alert in French; what follows is a loose, machine-assisted translation:
- A prohibition on all software that permits transmission of copyrighted material that does not integrate both a digital watermark and DRM
- A prohibition on marketing or advertising such software
- These prohibitions include legal sanctions
- DRM mandates for digital radio transmission
- A universal wiretapping system for private communication [This is defined elsewhere as a system to check for, say, music files attached to email messages, and not one that would violate the "secret of private correspondence".]
- Creation of a universal filering system for all ISPs
Is that enough?
Are you going to still sit down and read?
SACEM adds: "You shall stop publishing free software," and warn they are ready "to sue free software authors who will keep on publishing source code" should the "VU/SACEM/BSA/FA Contents Department" bill proposal pass in the Parliament.
Where do do you stand?
Academic `chilling' effect of DMCA and EUCD legislation
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