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<title>IPRED2 - Open Letter, April 18th 2007</title>
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<h1>Open letter to MEPs, 2007-04-18</h1>
<p>
Dear MEP,
</p>
<p>
FSFE would like to alert you to a proposed Directive text which will
be voted on in the next Plenary session. Com(2006)168 criminalises
many socially useful and legitimate uses of technology and would
create bureaucracy, uncertainty, and fear which would reduce the
ability of European citizens and businesses to participate in the
information society. This undoes the benefits of advances in
computer technology which are making it easier and easier for
everyone to be involved in developing and distributing software and
information.
</p>
<p>
The proposed text:
</p>
<ol>
<li>
Creates overly broad crimes of "attempting, aiding or abetting and
inciting" infringements of many dissimilar laws including copyright,
trademark, and patents. This violates Article 49 of the The Charter
of Fundamental Rights by making disproportionate use of criminal
sanctions.
</li>
<li>
Makes enforcement so cheap and easy that police investigation will
become a tempting tool for businesses to use against
competition.
</li>
<li>
Lacks safeguards to prevent abuse or to limit the applicability to
socially harmful situations. The only two limits, those of
"commercial scale" and "intentional" are not defined.
</li>
<li>
Introduces intimidating degrees of punishment to areas where
individuals, community-based projects, and other small to
medium-sized groups which may not have sufficient money or lawyers
to defend their rights in court cases. This must be avoided in
areas such as digital technology where technology changes much
faster than EU law.
</li>
</ol>
<p>
We therefore ask the European Parliament to:
</p>
<ol>
<li>
Limit the criminal sanctions to trademark counterfeiting and what
the TRIPS agreement calls "copyright piracy"
</li>
<li>
Define "commercial scale" as being for financial reward
</li>
<li>
Define "intentional infringement" as being "bad faith"
infringements
</li>
<li>
Remove the criminalisation of "attempting, aiding or abetting and
inciting"
</li>
<li>
Remove automatic investigation and prosecution - enforcements of
rights should be at the request of the rights holder
</li>
<li>Add counter-balances to protect against misuse</li>
</ol>
<p>
Another organisation, FFII, has published draft amendments which
greatly improve the Directive proposal. FSFE expects to endorse
FFII's amendments when they are tabled for next week's vote.
</p>
<p>
For more information, you can contact FSFE's Brussels
representative, Ciaran O'Riordan, by phone to
discuss this in English, or to discuss it in another language,
contact Ciaran by email.
</p>
<p>
Ciaran O'Riordan,<br />
Brussels Representative, Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)
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