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Europe's regulatory gridlock [media copying legislation]

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As media-copying sprouts, European Union legislation is failing to keep pace. To protect copyright holders, the European Commission (EC, Brussels), the legislative arm of the EU, has put several new directives on the table. But these initiatives have yet to be approved by the European Parliament (Strasbourg, France), let alone be adopted by its member states. The initiatives concerning counterfeiting and copyright are the most salient, although neither one mandates the imposition of digital rights management (DRM), which, in the view of some, is essential to ensuring that copyright holders get paid for each and every easily made digital copy created-when, for example, a song is downloaded to a mobile phone or computer hard drive. The new directive against counterfeiters was proposed by the EC at the end of January 2003. Under the proposed law, counterfeiters in Europe would face criminal sanctions and fines amounting to double the proper retail value of each item they pirated, plus the illicit profits they reaped on the sale of copied goods. The proposal must be debated by the European Parliament and ministers from the 15 national governments. If passed, EU rules require that it eventually replace existing national legislation against counterfeiting.

Published in:

Spectrum, IEEE  (Volume:40 ,  Issue: 5 )