Euro Commish passes anti-piracy plan

BRUSSELS, Belgium — As predicted (Daily Variety, Dec. 10), the European Commission adopted Wednesday controversial legislative proposals designed to tackle piracy on the Internet and other electronic networks that U.S. movie companies fear will fail to provide adequate protection for copyright holders against illegal copying of films and music.

Despite a concerted campaign to tackle the problem, international piracy costs members of the Motion Picture Assn. an estimated $2.5 billion in lost revenues every year.

The draft directive, which insiders say has been the focus of more lobbying than any other this decade, aims to adapt the existing EU legal framework to apply it to new digital technologies that make it easier to copy and transmit perfect copies of copyrighted material.

The commission’s draft directive has already been criticized by rights holders for failing to do enough to protect their property, and by hardware and online service providers for going too far, to the detriment of industry and consumer interests.

The MPA has worked closely with a broad ad hoc coalition of copyright holders in Europe — including the European Film Cos. Alliance, the European Publishers Assn. and the Intl. Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) — to try to strengthen the commission’s draft legislation, but so far it looks as though hardware and service providers are winning the battle.

While the MPA is keeping a low profile on the issue at this stage, perhaps preferring to let Europeans do the shouting, the European Publishers Council reacted swiftly to the announcement that the commission had adopted its proposals, warning Wednesday that, owing to intense lobbying from telcos, the proposed copyright directive has been diluted to the point where it is meaningless.

According to the IFPI, by delegating to EU member states the job of drawing up rules on private copying, the commission has made it more difficult for rights-holding industries — such as movies and music — to develop the technical controls they need to protect their works.

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