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Censorship Your Rights Online

The EU's Answer To The DMCA 40

blowdart writes: "You thought the DCMA was bad? Well EU Directive 2001/29/EU is due to be passed into individual country law next year. According to an article on, it will make it "a criminal offence to break or attempt to break the copy protection or access control systems on digital content such as music, videos, eBooks, and software", and was passed without public debate. According to, if the directive is applied in law without changes, we in Europe may face our own versions of Dmitri Sklyarov's prosecution. It gets more draconian, legitimate copying activity, such as teachers copying materials for their students or blind people making Braille copies of their work, could also become illegal, as could encryption research. The actual directive is available in HTML. So, who knows enough about european law to tell us if we should be worried or not?"
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The EU's Answer To The DMCA

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  • How come no comments?
    • Obviously it's a conspiracy. Why else do you think there hasn't been any public debate yet?


    • How come no comments?
      Imagine that you've spent months making fun of those blimey idiot 'merikans for coming up with gormless laws like the DMCA and SSSCA, then one of your own outdoes both with one law. Oh the shame!
  • The text of EU Directive 2001/29/EU is available
    here []. Unfortunately it is not free.

    I'm amazed our friends across the pond have not squawked about this yet.

  • how about this story gets reposted? something was wrong with slashdot's servers if only two people commented on such an important issue...
    • Yeah, repost! :) I only managed to catch it in "older stuff"
      • Yeah, repost! :) I only managed to catch it in "older stuff"

        &lt AOL />

        For anyone who's interested, the Canadian government is currently considering changes to our copyright law (DMCA-style). However they at least had the decency to ask for public comments. The deadline for sending in comments was Oct 22, but it's still worth reading some of the material here [] and here []
  • by sjb ( 25744 )
    I thought it was the DMCA... Digital Millenium Copyright Act?
  • It's a pity this story was somehow left off the front page, because eurorights [] could certainly do with some publicity.
  • I remember Alan Cox didn't want to go to the US because of the DMCA. Is he going to have to leave the UK now? Where can a person go to avoid this kind of crap, and still have decent net connectivity?
    • Brazil and Mexico look pretty good from that perspective. And the nice thing about Brazil is: it's Brazil.

      But the US corporations will still send their lobbyists/graft goons in, like they tried to do during the Brazilian abrogation of monopoly rights to the AIDS drugs manufacturers, to quell any excess of freedom.
    • You still have time to prevent this from happening in Canada []. We have similar connectivity to the USA and are very close in proximity. Our laws prohibit personal weapons but are much more lax in digital expression at this time.

      Check out this article [] on or the government's submissions page [] on the issue. We're engaging in "Copyright Reform" -- submit your opinions.

  • by europrobe ( 167359 ) < minus bsd> on Sunday October 28, 2001 @05:38AM (#2489206) Homepage
    Did you read the directive at all? I followed the provided link, and look what I found:

    (48) [...] In particular, this protection should not hinder research into cryptography.

    Article 5

    2. Member States may provide for exceptions or limitations to the reproduction right provided for in Article 2 [...] in respect of specific acts of reproduction made by publicly accessible libraries, educational establishments or museums, or by archives, which are not for direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage.

    3. Member States may provide for exceptions or limitations [...] in the following cases [...] uses, for the benefit of people with a disability, which are directly related to the disability and of a non-commercial nature, to the extent required by the specific disability.

    (End qoute)

    Which shows that neither teachers copying for students, nor Braille copies, nor encryption research will become illegal.

    Why, oh, why doesn't the submitters read their own sources?

    Also, it's important to note that the directive is not law, it's simply a template for the national lawmakers to make their own laws. It allows for considerable flexibility in interpreting, so no two coutries are likely to have the same laws anyway.

    • Whilst you are quite correct to point out the part about cryptography, I think you're interpretation of the other quoted section may be a little off.

      Both of them start with this quote:

      "Member States may provide for exceptions or limitations"

      Note the word may. It does not state that these exemptions are covered from the start. These exemptions will only be put into place should the government of each particular country choose to do so.
      • Yes, but this is the way EU directives work. You could look at it another way: In the time before this directive, member states were free to do basically whatever they wanted in this area - including outlawing Braille copies or whatever. They still are, so nothing have actually changed here.

        The writers of the directive could have practically outlawed encryption, but they chose not to. The fact that they did not outlaw the act of outlawing encryption does not mean they want encryption to be outlawed.

        Get my point?
        • "Get my point?"

          Alas no, now you've just gone and rightout confused me ;0)

          My interpretation is this:

          The directive outlaws copying etc.
          The directive in the clauses quoted says that members states may allow eductional establishments etc to copy stuff for non-commercial purposes if it chooses to

          My understanding is therefore that the directive does make it illegal for academic copying unless a specific contradictory law is passed.
          • Ok, I hope I can make it a bit more clear like this:

            The directive is not law. It is a DIRECTIVE for the national lawmakers on how to write the law in that particular country. So, if the directive says a member state MAY include exceptions for educational purposes, it means the member state probably WILL.

            The wording MAY simply is a heads-up to the member state that it should be aware of the (unintended) effects of blindly adopting the exact wording of the directive itself, but instead phrase their national law so that these side effects are avoided. IF the member state phrases the law so that a special provision for educational (or whatever) purposes is not needed, then the state does not HAVE to include one.

            Directives are written this way since judical culture differs considerably between the member states. It will allow more flexibility between the states.
    • Did you read the directive at all? I followed the provided link, and look what I found:
      Which shows that neither teachers copying for students, nor Braille copies, nor encryption research will become illegal.

      Indeed we (members of the UK Campaign for Digital Rights) have, in some depth. Unfortunately, all the exclusions you refer to are optional, and need not be implemented by the various member states. It is to be expected that the EU governments will come under the same lobbying pressure from the Recording and publishing industries that the US Government did with the DMCA (which also contains what look like exclusions for academic research, etc, which are rendered almost entirely ineffective in practise by means of some cunning legal tricks).

      There is evidence for the same legal trickery already in the EU directive - the exemptions allow you to make use of a circumvention mechanism for the non-infringing purposes you'd expect, but do not exempt anyone from prosecution/lawsuits should they create one.

      Alan Cox is indeed extremely concerned about the EUCD, and you should not be at all surprised if you find him, in the not too distance future, speaking about the EUCD in terms far from glowing, at conferences aimed at the European software industry. I would recommend you read some of the resources at: [] (our parent site) before leaping to your own conclusions about how inoffensive the EUCD might be.

      (See the summary of one of our recent IRC meetings [] - unexpurgated transcripts are linked therefrom - for further evidence that Alan Cox is taking the threat of the EUCD very seriously indeed).

      See also the articles linked from the CDR's EUCD links page [] (apologies for getting this link wrong in my earlier post to this thread).

      Expect also to see a lot more from the Foundation for Information Policy Research ( [] on European Copyright Legislation over the next month or two.

      If implemented with some revisions, and all the exemptions in full force, the EUCD would be considerably less threatening to musicians, the Free Software Movement, academics, and others than the DMCA. However, at present, we could very easily find ourselves (in Europe) faced with cases similar to Sklyarov's, Felten's, and the DeCSS case if the EUCD is allowed to be pushed through without substantial lobbying to counter that of the Recording and Publishing Industries. I see no evidence whatever (DMCA, SSSCA, FTAA's DMCA-alike - see []) that the recording and publishing industries are to be trusted not to seek to turn the EUCD into a carbon-copy of the DMCA when it comes before the legislature of the EU member states.

      Julian T. J. Midgley
      Campaign Co-ordinator
      UK Campaign for Digital Rights

    • (48) [...] In particular, this protection should not hinder research into cryptography.

      It shouldn't, but it will.

      2. Member States may provide for exceptions ... libraries, educational establishments or museums, or by archives, which are not for direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage.

      3. Member States may provide for exceptions ... for the benefit of people with a disability, which are directly related to the disability and of a non-commercial nature

      They may, but they cant.

      The simple fact is that they are attempting to prevent millions of anonymous individuals from making copies. The only way to prvent that is with a total lockdown. If anybody gets an effective exemption then the entire system falls apart.

      It doesn't matter how nice they try to make it sound. There are only two possibilites. Either you place draconian restrictions on everybody, or the system doesn't work. The people advocating this are NOT going to implement a system that doesn't work.

      The USA's DMCA isn't simply a bad law. It represents a very nasty set of interests. They are attempting to restrict freedom and technology in order to protect existing megacorps and profits. They already killed DigitalAudioTape (DAT) technology with the stupid laws they pushed through.

      If you want to get an idea where it is going take a look at a proposed USA bill called the SSSCA. It says all electronic devices must contain approved rights management software. Any attempt to disable it is a SEVERE crime. In otherwords you go to jail for 5 years and are fined $500,000 for deleting a .DLL file on your personal computer.

      There's two options here:

      If they win all information (music, programs, books, images, webpages) will arrive in a rights management package. You do not own anything you buy - you licence it. You will have to pay per use. You cannot move your files to another computer. You can't lend/sell anything you bought to anyone. Every electronic device will have to support any crazy restriction dreamed up by the content provider (can you say RegionCodes?). Research will be illegal. Creating or altering your own software or hardware will be illegal. Altering anything you bought will be impossible or illegal - remixing a song, altering an image for wallpaper, making a parody, anything.

      The other possiblity is they lose and we embrace individual freedom and open technology. Anyone can make any kind of hardware/software. Anyone can alter/use content they bought in any way they see fit. If I buy a song I think I have the right to play it backwards if I feel like it!

  • The UK Campaign for Digital Rights [] was established back in August to bring the small matter of 2001/29/EU (or the European Copyright Directive(EUCD []))to the attention of the general public, after people started discussing it at "Free Sklyarov" protests in London.

    Our mailing lists (archives available from contain the meat of the discussion to date []. We are currently part way through a campaign [] against copy protected CDs, designed to get the public thinking about the copy-protection mechanisms and legislation before we hit them with the full details of the EUCD.

    For more information about 2001/29/EU, see our EUCD issues pages [].

    Come and join the party... ;-)

    Julian Midgley
    Campaign Co-ordinator
    UK Campaign for Digital Rights

  • Look here too (Score:2, Informative)

    by musicmaster ( 237156 )
    Instead of you can better look at []. The site of the UK branch is much more developped as the central site.
  • European law is the same as any other law, I guess. In Norway, we often append these laws to our own, because we're an EEC country, and they seem to often be interpreted in the strictest possible sense.

    I guess it's time to abandon the US and Europe altogether. Heh, that leaves us Syria and Uruguay or something. =)

    • I guess it's time to abandon the US and Europe altogether

      Don't forget Switzerland: located in the heart of western Europe, not (yet?) an EEC member, very nice people, watches, chocolate, mountains, lakes: what could one want more?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      For several years the EEC (European Economics Community) has been called the European Union. Norway has never been a member - they voted not to join in a referendum. Norway is a very buttoned up country with dismal speed limits and draconian laws against having fun and sky high alcohol taxes. It is the thought of Latin ways that frightened them away from the EU. The anal retentive government loves to adopt EU legislation tho. The Crown Prince has just married a hooker heh heh.
  • huh, I submit a story, it gets published, but not on the front page!

    It's a conspiracy! I blame the DCMA!

  • To the moon alice! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WyldOne ( 29955 )
    pretty soon the only place where ideas are not forbidden
    • actually not a bad idea. i've been thinking of a high-tech "outlaw" colony for a while, but unfortunately they would come after us.. with a railgun.

      maybe we should join osama's forces? .. noo, they're too religious, in the bad sense of the word.
  • 1. Temporary acts of reproduction referred to in Article 2, which are transient or incidental [and] an integral and essential part of a technological process and whose sole purpose is to enable:
    • (a) a transmission in a network between third parties by an intermediary, or
    • (b) a lawful use of a work or other subject-matter to be made, and which have no independent economic significance, shall be exempted from the reproduction right provided for in Article 2.

    So using Elcosoft's software for lawfull uses (transferring from one PC you own to another you own, from you PC to you PDA, ...) can not be forbidden by the copyright holder. Seem much more reasonable to me than DMCA.

    Additionally, article 5, item 1.c, specifically addresses the teacher case, 3a the scientific research case (and even putting copyrighted material in a scientific article), 3b the blind people case, ...

    Article 6, item 4 says that anti-copy protection can not prevent authorized copies (such those mentioned before)

    Read it, it is interesting, and not that long (skip the 62 "whereas"es, they are not)

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.