EU Approves Digital Copyright Law
After gaining what they viewed as acceptable changes to European Union legislation extending copyright protection to the Internet, copyright holders in Europe said they expect more of their works will become available on the Net.
The European Parliament approved the copyright directive on Feb. 14 with a few minor changes. The measure is expected to gain final approval from the EUs council of member state representatives. EU member states will then have 18 months to carry out the directive.
The measure implements two treaties providing copyright protection for digital works and bans the sale or use of devices aimed at circumventing technological protections, such as encryption, for copyrighted works. It also aims to harmonize copyright laws across the EU.
After months of lobbying, music and movie groups and other copyright interests did not gain all the amendments they sought, but managed to narrow an exception for private copying, a key concern.
"We are pleased that the parliament decided to act to keep private copying truly private and resisted strong pressure to weaken the legal protection of technical measures," said Ted Shapiro, general counsel at the Motion Picture Associations European office.
Member states will have the option of adopting a long list of exceptions to the copyright protections. A new battle over whether each EU member country should expand its current list of exceptions could emerge at the national level, said Olivia Regnier, senior legal adviser at the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a record industry association.
Njara Zafimehy, president of the European Digital Music Association, which represents online music companies, Webcasters and others, said the "directive tips the balance in favor of the right holders, in cases such as the private copying exception."
Consumer electronics manufacturer groups and others said they remain concerned about a provision they claimed could be used to limit language in the legislation that allows member states to step in if rights holders do not respect lawful exceptions to the copyright protections.
"No one is clear how this will be interpreted" by the member states, said Michael Hart, a lawyer representing these groups.