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Consumers, Librarians, and Innovators Tell EU 'We're Not Criminals'

April 18, 2007

Consumers, Librarians, and Innovators Tell EU 'We're Not Criminals'

Coalition Submits Fixes to European Parliament to Prevent Vague New Copyright Crimes

Brussels - The Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) European Office today announced a broad coalition aimed at fixing a poorly drafted intellectual property enforcement proposal that could make criminals of thousands of people in the European Union.

The Second Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED2) -- set for vote in the European Parliament early next week -- makes "aiding, abetting, or inciting" intellectual property infringement on a "commercial scale" a criminal offence. However, IPRED2 defines criminal offences so vaguely that creators of legitimate websites, Internet service providers, and even librarians could be investigated by the police and face criminal records as well as fines of hundreds of thousands of euros.

The coalition battling against IPRED2 includes the Brussels-based European Consumers Organisation (BEUC), the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA), the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), and the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII). The group sent an open letter to the European Parliament today, urging members to support amendments that would protect consumers, innovators, and researchers.

"Criminal law needs to be clear to be fair. IPRED2 as it is currently drafted is neither," said Erik Josefsson, European Affairs Coordinator for EFF. "These amendments clarify that criminal sanctions should be saved for true trademark counterfeiters."

IPRED2 also proposes allowing entertainment company representatives to join police in investigating businesses that they claim infringe -- or even "incite" infringement -- of their intellectual property.

"Such secondary liability is a major threat for software developers and Internet service providers," said Ante Wessels of FFII.

"The current draft of IPRED2 creates legal uncertainty and confusion, which will act as a barrier for libraries and archives in their efforts to digitize and bring digital information to end users," said Andrew Cranfield, Director of EBLIDA.

The next vote on IPRED2 is scheduled for April 25 in Strasbourg, France.

For the open letter to the European Parliament:
http://www.copycrime.eu/files/openletter-ipred.pdf

For more on IPRED2:
http://www.copycrime.eu

To take action and tell your MEP to support these amendments:
http://www.copycrime.eu/petition

For more on EFF Europe:
https://www.eff.org/global/europe

Contacts:

Erik Josefsson
European Affairs Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
erik@eff.org

Danny O'Brien
International Outreach Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
danny@eff.org

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