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Monday, 9 April, 2001, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK
EU ministers back internet copyright
The entertainment industry wants curbs on downloading from the internet
The new law brings EU legislation up-to-date, say officials
European Union ministers have given their final approval to new EU-wide copyright laws aimed at curbing internet and hi-tech piracy.

Not only is this directive the most important measure ever to be adopted by Europe in the copyright field, but it brings European copyright rules into the digital age

Frits Bolkestein, EU internal market commissioner
The copyright directive, as the law is known, was the EU's most lobbied ever piece of legislation, often pitting the interests of industry, artists and consumers against one another.

EU officials said it aimed to strike a balance between consumers and the entertainment industry.

Monday's approval capped months of lobbying by interested parties.

Irish pop band The Corrs were among those campaigning for tougher copyright laws.

Speaking during a visit to the EU Parliament last year, the group's Sharon Corr said:

"It's very important for the livelihood of artists who come after us and definitely for music culture in Europe."


The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which looks after recording artists, estimates there are more than 25 million illegal music files available on the internet.

Napster founder Shawn Fanning with his attorney
Napster: Lost the legal battle
The new legislation gives copyright protection for books, music and films on the internet.

It gives copyright owners the right to use encryption to block duplication and to limit the illegal downloading of audio and video files.

Free swapping of copyrighted music files, such as those provided by file-sharing firm Napster, until it was ordered to stop, will not be allowed.

But consumers will be able to download copies of music and film for private use, and it will be up to each EU country to decide whether they should have to pay for those services.

Member states have 18 months to ratify and implement the laws.

Artists have argued that if there is no curb on copyright infringement and piracy, creativity will be stifled.

But some consumer groups say such fears are exaggerated as only a small minority makes excessive use of copyrighted material on the internet.

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See also:

14 Feb 01 | Entertainment
EU votes yes to net piracy law
14 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Creators fight for copyrights
13 Mar 01 | Business
Napster deflects blame for delays
07 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Hollywood faces piracy battle
19 Sep 00 | Business
Digital rights and wrongs
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