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New report finds problems with EU copyright law

FOR IMMEDIATE USE : 8 September 2003

[Deutsche] [Espa˝ol] [Italiano] [Suomi] [Franšais]

European citizens could find many common activities banned as the EU Copyright Directive becomes law, a new FIPR report reveals. Transferring songs from a copy-protected CD to a Walkman or computer could be illegal, as could watching a DVD on a computer running Linux.

"Implementing the EU Copyright Directive", published today, reports on legal developments across the EU as member states change their laws to comply with the Directive.

It finds that it is now illegal in several countries such as Greece and Germany to use copyrighted works such as CDs, films or electronic books in ways restricted by the publisher. Offenders can be fined tens of thousands of euros and imprisoned for several years.

Few EU countries provide an effective mechanism for consumers to make use of their legal rights. Most require consumers to complain to a government body, which may then take several months to enforce those rights. Nor do these bodies include consumer representatives.

Little provision has been made to stop copyright law being used to raise prices to consumers for items such as game console accessories or printer cartridges. Without explicit protection, Europeans can expect to see this type of anti-competitive behaviour cross the Atlantic from the US, where it has become common under a similar law (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act).

European research into computer security mechanisms will also be damaged. On current plans, only German, Danish and Finnish scientists will be allowed to investigate the effectiveness of measures that are being used to protect copyright works.

Ian Brown, editor of the report, said: "These new laws are removing European citizens' rights at the behest of Hollywood and the music industry. They need to be rewritten to protect the owners of CDs, DVDs and e-books as well as media companies."

Alberto Escudero-Pascual, author of the report on Spain, commented: "Few of these new laws show any subtlety in the measures that they adopt. They simply implement legal measures from Brussels and the US without protecting the rights of citizens."

The report can be accessed at:

Contact for enquiries:

Ian Brown
Foundation for Information Policy Research
07970 164 526 (from outside the UK: +44 7970 164 526)

Notes for editors

  1. The Foundation for Information Policy Research ( is an independent body that studies the interaction between information technology and society. Its goal is to identify technical developments with significant social impact, commission and undertaken research into public policy alternatives, and promote public understanding and dialogue between technologists and policy-makers in the UK and Europe.
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