Artists Claim Law Will Not Help Them and Will Harm Consumers
The enforcement directive has been widely criticized for its lack of balance and over-broad scope, since it treats individuals who engage in unintentional non-commercial infringements the same as if they were major commercial counterfeiters.
Sponsored by a broad coalition of consumer groups, today’s rally takes place outside the EU Parliament in Strasbourg between 4:30-6:30pm as MEPs enter the building for the evening’s debate. Rally organizers include members of the Campaign for an Open Digital Environment (CODE), including the European Digital Rights Initiative (EDRi), the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR), the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), IP Justice and others.
Consumer groups aim to convince MEPs to either reject the bloated directive or to vote for amendments that would reduce it’s danger to ordinary consumers for non-commercial infringements.
“The proposed directive would allow recording industry executives to privately invade the homes of P2P file-sharers in order to gather evidence for civil prosecutions,” said Robin Gross, Executive Director of IP Justice, an international civil liberties organization that promotes balanced intellectual property laws.
Popular artists have spoken out against this directive and it’s backers’ claim that it protects creators:
“Prosecuting fans who share music files in order to prevent piracy is like outlawing sex to prevent pregnancy,” said Michael Franti, leader of the acclaimed hip-hop band Spearhead. “I do not support the spirit of this legislation because it does more to punish fans than it does to help artists and labels adjust to the expansive future of the electronic revolution. Fans, labels and artists alike are going to need to make changes in the way we buy, sell and market music, but the draconian nature of these laws is more of an attack on civil liberties than it is a solution to the changing times we are living in.”
“The EU Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive has nothing to do with protecting the interest of artists, or at least the overwhelming majority of us,” stated Italian rock/folk musician Alberto Cottica. “Rather, it seems like an effective tool to protect major recording companies, and it was these ‘majors,’ not artists, lobbying for it,” added Cottica, a member of the band Fiamma Fumana and previously with the Modena City Ramblers, an Italian recording group who has sold over 350,000 albums world-wide.
First introduced in January 2003 by the EU Commission, the proposed EU IP Rights Enforcement Directive was placed on a fast-track approval process by French MEP and the directive’s Rapporteur Janelly Fourtou. Fourtou is married to the CEO of one of the worldâ€™s largest music companies, Vivendi-Universal and will directly profit from this proposal’s adoption. Fourtou has pushed for its adoption through a rarely used “First Reading” emergency procedure, rather than permit it to be fully debated in the usual “Second Reading” procedure.
“As an artist, I am vehemently opposed to the European Union Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive,” exclaimed John Perry Barlow, song writer for the Grateful Dead and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Before imposing this directive, I hope the European Union will stop to consider who really benefits from it. If it is intended that artists and creators be compensated, if it is intended that culture be enriched, and that the right both to speak and to hear will be preserved, then this directive should never become European law,” added the lyricist who wrote over a quarter of the songs for the Grateful Dead, the most popular touring band in the US.
“The primary rationale for enacting the enforcement directive is supposed to be the reduction of distortions in the EU Single Internal Market by reducing disparities between national laws,” declared MEP Marco Cappato, who has tabled 5 amendments to the directive in order to protect consumers from its excesses. “However, this rationale does not apply to unintentional or non-commercial scale acts of infringement. Given the differences in Member States’ copyright and related right laws, and trademark laws, there are significant differences as to which acts constitute infringement under different national laws. For instance, when consumers create an MP3 copy of an audio CD that they have purchased and burn it on to a CD-ROM for personal use in their cars, this may be infringement in one Member State, but not in another. Furthermore, small businesses that in good faith use software that is later alleged to infringe copyright should not be targeted in the same way as commercial counterfeiters. Accordingly, it is appropriate to harmonise enforcement only at the level of intentional commercial infringement, since it is the only standard that is common across Member States, and is the relevant focus for removal of distortions within the Internal Market,” explained MEP Cappato of the Italian Radical party.
Immediately after the plenary debate on the directive and just before its final vote on 9 March from 11:30-12:00, CODE coalition members will hold a press conference at the EU Press Facility in Strasbourg together with Cappato and other MEPs who support narrowing the directive’s scope to commercial infringements.
CODE Rally Info:
Campaign for an Open Digital Environment (CODE):
Text of Proposed EU IP Rights Enforcement Directive:
Alberto Cottica Statement:
Michael Franti Statement:
John Perry Barlow Statement:
Word doc of all 3 Artist Statements:
IP Justice’s Top 8 Reasons to Reject the EU IP Rights Enforcement Directive:
MEP Marco Cappato Declaration:
Rally Media 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
IP Justice is an international civil liberties organization that promotes balanced intellectual property laws. IP Justice defends consumer rights to use digital media worldwide and is a non-profit organization based in San Francisco. IP Justice was founded in 2002 by Robin Gross, who serves as its Executive Director. To learn more about IP Justice, visit the website at http://www.ipjustice.org.