Tell your MEP to vote no to the Copycrime Directive

Next week – on Tuesday 24th April – the European Parliament will vote on a directive that would turn many breaches of copyright into criminal offences. This directive (with the catchy name of IPRED2) is dangerously wide. EFF Europe has explained why:

IPRED2 and Business

The entertainment industry spent millions suing the makers of the first VCRs, MP3 players and digital video recorders, trying to use copyright law to kill those innovative products because they threatened old business models. Fortunately, the industry was unsuccessful.

IPRED2’s new crime of “aiding, abetting and inciting” infringement again takes aim at innovators, including open source coders, media-sharing sites like YouTube, and ISPs that refuse to block P2P services.

With the new directive, music labels and Hollywood studios will push for the criminal prosecution of these innovators in Europe, saying their products “incite” piracy – with EU taxpayers covering the costs.

Under IPRED2, these same entertainment companies can work with transnational “joint investigation teams” to advise the authorities on how to investigate and prosecute their rivals!

IPRED2 and Your Digital Freedoms

Criminal law needs to be clear to be fair. While IPRED2 says that only “commercial scale” infringement will be punished, the directive doesn’t clearly define “commercial scale” or “incitement.” Even IP lawyers can’t agree on what are “private” and “personal” uses of copyrighted works. One step over that fuzzy line, however, and anyone could be threatened with punishments intended for professional counterfeiters and organized criminals.

How can ordinary citizens feel safe exercising their rights under copyright and trademark law when serious criminal penalties may be brought against them if they cross the line?

Please sign the petition against the directive.

If you’d like to contact your MEPs directly, you can find their details here, and EFF Europe has put up suggestions for what you might like to say here. (If you’re going to do this, make sure you contact their Brussels or Strasbourg offices rather than their Irish office.)