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Wednesday, February 10, 1999 Published at 19:56 GMT


Tougher Net piracy law backed

Hundreds of thousands of high-quality music files are on the Net

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

The European Parliament has voted to strengthen substantially legislation against Internet piracy following intense lobbying by the music business.

Consumer groups and the Internet industry oppose the new directive because it limits making personal copies and imposes new obligations on networks which might relay pirated material.

The legislation goes to the 15 governments of the European Union and then back to the parliament before being adopted.

Consumer groups accuse the politicians of bringing to an end legitimate digital copying for private use.

But the recording industry is delighted to receive legal backing for its battle against the spread of some 80,000 illegal music files on the Net.

Showbiz lobby

A day after Strasbourg was lobbied by a galaxy of show business personalities on Internet piracy, its politicians voted for the tougher laws, which address many of the industry's concerns.

The amended European Union copyright directive establishes the principle that authors, performers, producers and broadcasters now have a right to authorise reproductions of their work and control their use over the Internet.

It allows consumers to make copies of recordings for personal use as long as the rights owners are compensated. This could mean levies on blank tapes for recording and new technologies for charging for music sent over the Net.

Temporary copies of such sound files are held on the computers of telecommunications companies and Internet service providers, usually as part of caching technologies to speed up the flow of information over the Net.

They will only be exempt from the copyright law if they know the work has been authorised. The industry says this is unworkable and will lead to a slowing down of an already sluggish network.

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