March 2, 2004

Consumer Rights Rally at EU in Strasbourg on 8 March:

Coalition Urges Rejection of Controversial EU IP Directive

An international coalition of civil liberties and consumer rights groups are holding a digital rights rally and press conference to oppose the controversial European Union Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive on the eve of its final vote in EU Parliament.

The meeting is set for 8 March, 2004 in Strasbourg, France, where a broad coalition will urge EU Members of Parliament to reject the controversial directive due to its excessive treatment of users and consumers for minor and non-commercial infringements.

Members of the Campaign for an Open Digital Environment (CODE) including IP Justice, European Digital Rights (EDRi), the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR), the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) and others have joined to rally against the EU IP Enforcement Directive.

Consumers oppose this directive because it treats them as if they were large commercial counterfeiters – even for a single, unintentional, non-commercial infringement. The powerful new enforcement provisions it creates to combat infringement apply even to people who believed their activities were lawful.

First introduced in January 2003 by the EU Commission, the proposed EU IP Rights Enforcement Directive has undergone a complete re-drafting behind closed doors in so-called informal trilogue meetings chaired by French MEP and Rapporteur Janelly Fourtou. Mrs. Fourtou has, together with the Council, now placed the Directive on a fast-track approval process, which schedules adoption by the EU Council only four days after the publication of the amendments for the EU Parliament’s Plenary. Public consultation has been sacrificed in an attempt to pass a disputed piece of legislation in a “First Reading” procedure, which is intended for uncontroversial reports, when the directive should be fully debated in a “Second Reading” procedure.

Consumers and users from all over the EU are invited to attend the meeting in Strasbourg on 8 March to support upholding traditional civil liberties against the over-zealous enforcement of intellectual property rights. The meeting will be held just outside the EU Parliament Building at 16:30-18:30, when the Members of Parliament arrive for the evening’s debate. More details about the 8 March meeting and press conference at the EU will be announced as they become available at

Top 8 Reasons to Reject the EU IP Rights Enforcement Directive: (also see French РFran̤ais РTop 8 des motifs de rejet de la directive EU IP)

1. The directive’s scope is much too wide: it should be limited to intentional commercial infringements only. Certain types of intellectual property rights such as patents should be excluded in their entirety from the scope of the directive.

2. The directive lacks balance and proportionality since average consumers face the same treatment as major commercial counterfeiters for minor infringements with no commercial impact.

3. The proposal provides no definition for “intellectual property rights”, although the directive applies to all types of intellectual property. Since EU Member States define “intellectual property rights” differently, it is unclear which rights actually apply.

4. The directive permits Hollywood attorneys to hire private police forces to invade the homes of alleged infringers. Known as Anton Piller orders, these measures were previously only available in extremely rare cases in the UK against large commercial infringers. But the directive permits rightsholders to carry out these private raids against citizens throughout the EU for minor infringements that involve no financial motivation or benefit at all.

5. Mareva injunctions, which permit rightsholders to freeze the bank accounts and other assets of alleged infringers before a court hearing, become EU law under this proposal.

6. The directive creates a new “Right of Information” that allows rightsholders to obtain personal information on users of Peer-2-Peer (P2P) file-sharing software. Similar broad subpoena powers created under the controversial US Digital Millennium Copyright Act have been abused by the recording industry to obtain personal information on thousands of consumers in the US.

7. Internet Service Providers’ (ISPs) servers and equipment can be seized and destroyed without any notice or court hearing for the allegedly infringing activity of their customers.

8. Directives of this importance must undergo adequate debate and consideration by the entire EU and not be rushed through on a “First Reading.” This proposal should properly be sent into a “Second Reading” where its controversial provisions can be publicly considered.

Photo courtesty of Photo Parlement EuropeenMedia Contacts:

IP Justice/CODE: Robin Gross
phone: +1 415 553 6261

FFII: James Heald
phone +44 14 83 57 51 74
mobile +44 77 89 10 75 39

FIPR: Ian Brown
mobile +44 79 70 16 45 26

EDRi: Andreas Dietl
phone +32 2 660 47 81
mobile +32 498 34 56 86

Italian Law Professor Giovanni Ziccardi
Phone: +39 340 79 66 516

More information and commentary available at