The Nuclear Weapon of Digital Rights Law

The European Union is close to passing legislation that makes the DMCA look like child's play.

Few examples of technology-related federal legislation have stirred up more controversy in recent years than the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and now the European Union is considering a similar, yet far more sweeping act—one that could extend to virtually all kinds of intellectual property protections—which critics describe as "nuclear weapons of IP law enforcement." A coalition of over 50 civil liberties groups is opposing draft legislation titled the European Union Directive for the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights. The draft legislation will be considered for passage into law throughout Europe by the European Plenary March 8th through 11th.

The provisions within the directive have produced scathing attacks from the civil liberties groups opposing it. For example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted material opposing it under the title "European Union Considers Warped Intellectual Property Directive." Two specific provisions within the directive, titled Anton Pillar Orders and Mareva Injunctions call for recording industry executives to have the right to raid the homes of P2P file sharers.

"This goes far beyond the DMCA, which mainly focused on copyright protection," says Robin D. Gross, executive director of IPJustice, an international civil liberties organization. "If you make a copy of a CD and give it to your mother, there are provisions within this directive for recording industry officials to raid your house, and there are similar provisions for doing things like freezing your bank account before there is any kind of hearing."

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