[Politech] Love those Eurocrats! New advances in censorship and DMCAing [fs]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Wed Apr 07 2004 - 10:57:06 PDT

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    The GILC News Alert is the newsletter of the Global Internet Liberty
    Campaign, an international coalition of organizations working to protect 
    and enhance online civil liberties and human rights.
    [2] Showdown looms for controversial French digital economy bill 
    The French Senate is expected to start discussions soon on a proposal 
    that critics say will erode civil liberties online.
    The French digital economy bill (known as le projet de loi sur la 
    confiance dans l'économie numérique or LEN), which is supposed to help 
    France comply with a June 2000 European Union (EU) directive, includes 
    language that would make Internet service providers liable for content 
    on websites that they host. More specifically, they would have to "act 
    promptly" to take down material "after becoming aware of their unlawful 
    nature" or face legal retribution-a process that currently requires 
    judicial approval. The bill also essentially eliminates the doctrine 
    that email should be treated as "private correspondence," creating the 
    possibility that such messages can be more easily intercepted by third 
    parties. The French Senate is expected to debate the proposal on 8 April 
    2004; the National Assembly has already adopted a version of the bill.
    The plan have drawn fire from several quarters for months. Reporters 
    Sans Frontieres (RSF-a GILC member) has warned: "If the LEN is approved, 
    excessive Internet censorship is likely to ensue." Similar concerns have 
    been expressed by Imaginons un Reseau Internet Solidaire (IRIS-a GILC 
    member), which has started an anti-LEN petition drive.
    For an IRIS report on LEN (with in-depth analysis of key LEN provisions 
    and a proposal for modifications), click
    For more about LEN as well as the IRIS petition drive, see
    To read RSF's comments on the plan, click
    [7] European Parliament approves EuroDMCA
    The European Parliament has approved a proposal that would dramatically 
    expand the powers of intellectual property holders.
    The European Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive supposedly will 
    simplify the enforcement of copyrights, patents, and trademarks 
    throughout the continent. Among other things, the proposal includes 
    provisions that essentially will give intellectual property holders 
    broad subpoena powers to collect personal information. The plan also 
    will increase civil liability for infringements even if done 
    accidentally, unknowingly or for non-commercial purposes. The proposal's 
    general outlines have drawn comparisons to the much-maligned United 
    States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which contains analogous 
    The European Parliament approved the Directive last month by a vote of 
    307 to 185. Many groups blasted the decision; Robin Gross, the executive 
    director of IP Justice (a GILC member), charged: "Traditional civil 
    liberties, fairness, balance, and proportionality have all be thrown to 
    the wind in the over-zealous rush to pass this dangerous directive." 
    Similar concerns were aired by the European Digital Rights Initiative, 
    which warned that the plan's broad scope could be abused: "This 
    directive should be targeted at organised crime, not teenage 
    file-sharers and their parents." The proposal will now go the European 
    Council of Ministers, who are expected to adopt the measure soon, 
    leaving European Union countries about two years to implement 
    legislation at the national level in order to conform with the Directive.
    The IP Justice press release is posted at
    An EDRI commentary on the Directive is posted under
    Read "EU backs tighter laws on piracy," BBC News Online, 9 March 2004 at
    [19] International cybercrime treaty enters into force
    A controversial new cybercrime treaty has come into force, albeit in 
    just a few countries.
    The Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime, would, among other 
    things, require countries to authorize government agents to install 
    spytools on the servers of Internet service providers (ISPs) and thereby 
    intercept all Internet transmissions that come through their servers. 
    The treaty requires signatory nations to comply with foreign 
    investigators, even when they are investigating activities that are not 
    crimes on domestic soil. The Convention, however, does not require 
    countries to enact any specific procedural protections. Many groups have 
    severely criticized the treaty for years as a serious threat to online 
    While representatives from several dozen nations have signed the 
    Convention in 2001, few of those countries have actually ratified the 
    pact since then. Several weeks ago, Lithuania became only the fifth 
    country to ratify the Convention (joining Hungary, Croatia, Estonia and 
    Albania), thereby at least fulfilling the treaty's requirement that five 
    nations must ratify the treaty before it can become effective. However, 
    the Convention still does not have the force of law beyond those 5 
    countries. Despite a letter from United States President George W. Bush 
    late last year urging the U.S. Senate to "give its advice and consent to 
    ratification," the Senate has yet to take action. Moreover, there is no 
    word as to whether other signatories (notably Great Britain, France and 
    Germany) will ratify the Convention any time soon.
    A Council of Europe press release on this subject is posted at
    Read Estelle Dumout, "Council of Europe ratifies cybercrime treaty," 
    ZDNet France, 22 March 2004 at
    The text of the treaty is available via
    To read the text of President Bush's message, click
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