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AEPOC: "Accepting Private Piracy Equals To Opening The Pandora Box"
By Mi2N
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AEPOC, the European Association for the Protection of Encrypted Works and Services, calls on the EU Parliament to put special attention to the side effects of the current draft of the Enforcement Directive on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRED2) and to ameliorate legal protection of copyright in order to build the basis for a prosperous scenario for the development of the EU Information Society: The proposed legislative text in its latest amendments expressively admits piracy committed by private users for non-profit purposes without any risk of sanction in the field of copyright and IPR violations.

Accordingly, the draft lays down a dangerous concept of 'legal piracy' - putting the future of artistic works and creation at stake, ultimately resulting in lesser consumer choice and fewer cultural diversity in Europe, and beyond.

Moreover, in AEPOC's field of concern such as Internet downloads, file-sharing and audio-visual works and services in general, a 'legal piracy' principle, being an apparent contraction, would invite criminal organizations and providers of pirate equipment to exploit this argument to more easily propose piracy enabling tools to end users.

AEPOC President Jean Grenier expressed his deep concern, "A vivid market place can only exist through the quality and choice of offerings, which need to be sufficiently remunerated in order to support a sustainable development. Accepting private piracy, though, equals to opening the Pandora Box: Especially in view of peer-to-peer copyright violations, private users would be specifically protected when acting illegally according to the current draft. This trivializes illegal behavior and would loosen dramatically existing legislation as in place in some EU Member Countries. Moreover, the penalty-free concept must be seen as an opportunity to criminal providers of piracy enabling technologies to take advantage of this scenario."

AEPOC believes in preventing illegal behavior in the first place through sufficiently deterring legislation while actual illegal acts must be adequately punished. A possible total abolishment of criminal sanctions in any EU Members State for anyone violating copyright without a direct commercial benefit, must though be seen as an intolerable step back from protection for rights holders - putting the EU in a controversial position as to the overall understanding of copyright and threatening the development of new innovative services and artistic creation in general.

While AEPOC's core field of interest is the protection of encrypted works and services such as Pay-TV related offerings, being mainly covered by the EU Directive on Conditional Access (CA), copyright-related issues such as Internet community platforms and peer-to-peer networks are also a major concern for AEPOC, besides any CA-infringement being at the same time an illegal act of illicit access to copyright protected content.

AEPOC welcomes the overall aim of the Directive as well as the explicit inclusion of services related to or consisting of Conditional Access, while stressing that a de-facto legalization of private piracy creates an unforeseeable risk to the development of the EU Information Society.

The proposed Criminal Enforcement Directive is aimed at ensuring the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights and to harmonize criminal codes throughout all Member States. The next phase of the approval procedure will take place during the EU Parliament plenary session from April 23-26, 2007.

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