Intellectual Property Enforcement
On 26 June a special copyright advisory board within the French Ministry of Culture published a report supporting government plans to increase surveillance of Internet users as part of a wider bid to stop the online copying of protected works.
The Superior Council for Artistic and Literary Intellectual Property (Conseil Supérieur de la Propriété Littéraire et Artistique, or CSPLA) advises to create a 3 year period of mandatory retention of traffic data by ISP's to help track down online copyright violations and counterfeiting. The legal regime for data retention is set by the law on daily safety (Loi sur la Sécurité Quotidienne - LSQ) from 15 November 2001, even though the application decrees have not been adopted yet.
The EU parliament Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market will vote on 11 September on the proposed EU Directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
The Directive proposes to harmonize IP law in such a way that all enforcement measures available to IP owners in any EU member state must be available in all of them.
UK security researcher Ross Anderson has published an analysis of the proposed EU Directive. At present, copyright infringement is treated by most member states as a civil matter in general.
On 17 July, Landwell, a Spanish legal firm related to Price-Waterhouse-Coopers, issued a press release stating that they were planning to present a lawsuit against 4.000 Spanish Kazaa users for illegally downloading copyrighted material such as movies, songs or software. They announced they had identified a total of 95.000 Spanish file-sharers, and were going to start with the prosecution of the 4.000 most serious ones.
In fact, this would be the biggest prosecution of internet users yet in Europe, mimicking the recent hunt down of users in the United States. Before, only Danish users were brought to court, when in December 2002, APG (Antipiracygroup) registered the IP numbers of potential copyright violators (i.e.
In a first result of legal procedures against record companies instituted by two French consumer unions, EMI Music France is condemned for deception. Within a month, they must print the following warning on copy protected CD's: 'Attention, this CD cannot be read by all players or car-radio's.'
Late in May, the 2 unions started legal procedures against several major record companies in order to fight copy protection on CDs. The Union Fédérale des Consommateurs (UFC-Que Choisir) deposited complaints in the courts of Paris against EMI Music France, Warner Music France, Universal Pictures Video as well as the distributors Auchan and FNAC.
EDRI-member Electronic Frontier Finland (EFFI) submitted a statement on a proposed EU Directive to harmonise the enforcement of intellectual property laws, including copyrights and patents, across member states. According to EFFI, the new directive is based too unilaterally on studies made for the media industry. For example, the proposal compares piracy to drug trade and terrorism. Besides proposing punitive damages, the draft directive suggests that defendants should pay for the publication of judgements in newspapers. Another principle objection of the Fins against the draft Directive is that it treats digital products the same way as the counterfeiting of medicines, alcohol, toys and car parts.
In their formal evaluation of the European Directive on Electronic Pay-Services (98/84/EC), the European Commission strongly promotes legal measures against copyright infringements. The report, published 2 weeks ago, evaluates the implementation and enforcement of the directive by member states and candidate countries, from its adaptation in November 1998 through to December 2002. Part of the report is dedicated to the problems with satellite TV. According to the authors, a significant amount of piracy is caused by the fact that many EU-citizens are unable to access protected satellite TV channels originating from other member states, even if they are willing to pay for it.
The European Commission has launched a proposal for a new Directive that aims at no less than harmonising penalties for infringements against copyright laws. The proposal, adopted by the Commission at the end of January, is currently under discussion in the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.