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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Pirates to face harsher penalties
Popular rapper Eminem
Copies of Eminem's new album are available online
People who pirate CDs and DVDs could soon be facing much harsher punishments for circumventing copyright.

Software makers and entertainment companies are lobbying the European Union to adopt new laws that would make it easier for them track down and catch pirates, and to ensure that any who are caught face stiff penalties.

The new laws will complement an existing law that criminalises circumventing technologies used to protect copyrighted works.

Critics of this law say it only harms consumers and does little to tackle the real problems of piracy.

Crime and punishment

Last week anti-piracy organisations, including the Business Software Alliance and the Motion Picture Association, presented a five-point plan to the European Union asking for its help in tackling counterfeit software and pirated movies and music.

The plan asks that all the industrial disc stamping machines, used by both legitimate and illegitimate pirate CD/DVD makers, put identification numbers onto all the discs they turn out.

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Popular films are being pirated online too
The move would help anti-piracy groups track the source of counterfeit software and discs said Lisa Peets of legal firm Covington and Burling, which is legal counsel for the BSA.

The plan also asks the EU to make it easier to mount surprise searches of offices and factories suspected of using or making counterfeit software.

It also asks for the penalties for piracy to be made much harsher.

"It would give us the tools we need to catch people who are infringing copyrights and ensure they are adequately punished," said Ms Peets.

Interscope, the record label of Eminem, has brought forward the release of the rapper's latest album because so many copies of it are available online.

Music control

The new law, known as the Enforcement Directive, would complement the existing EU Copyright Directive which most member states are due to adopt by the end of 2002.

The Copyright Directive has been criticised by some who say it will only irritate consumers, push up CD prices and criminalise many of the things that people now take for granted.

In the future consumers will find it very difficult to make copies of the music they own or even to listen to the music on more than one device, said Martin Keegan, spokesman for the Campaign for Digital Rights.

The group works to show how consumer rights are being eroded.

"The directive takes copyright from being about industrial registration to directly having real world effects in people's bedrooms and living rooms," said Mr Keegan.

See also:

27 May 02 | Entertainment
21 May 02 | Entertainment
23 May 02 | Science/Nature
20 May 02 | Science/Nature
12 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
20 Feb 02 | Business
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