IPRED2 Passes First Reading
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If IPRED2 is implemented without clear limits, "aiding, abetting, or inciting" copyright infringement on a "commercial scale" in the EU will become a crime.
Penalties for these brand new copycrimes will include permanent bans on doing business, seizure of assets, criminal records, and fines of up to €100,000.
IPRED2's backers say these copycrimes are meant only for professional criminals selling fake merchandise. But Europe already has laws against these fraudsters. With many terms in IPRED2 left unclear or completely undefined - including "commercial scale" and "incitement" - IPRED2 will expand police authority and make suspects out of legitimate consumers and businesses, slowing innovation and limiting your digital rights.
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?