|Author (Person)||Chapman, Peter|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.3, 18.1.01, p7|
A BATTLE over consumers' rights to make private copies of music, film and video has been reignited as MEPs prepare to vote on new EU rules governing copyright protection in the digital age.
Hostilities flared up this week as the European Parliament's legal affairs committee met to prepare its position on a hard-fought compromise thrashed out by member states last summer on the Commission's 1998 copyright blueprint.
MEPs, under pressure to complete their discussions on the issue before the spring, are reluctant to pick apart the governments' deal on one of the EU's most complex pieces of draft legislation.
But the music industry claims the wording of the proposals would leave it vulnerable to widespread digital-quality copying of recorded works via the Internet or the high-tech equipment already sold by electronics firms.
Under the terms of the ministers' deal, copies of such material could be made legally if the material is intended "for the private use" of a person. But industry groups want the wording changed to ensure users cannot make copies and then distribute them.
"A copy might be made by absolutely anyone. He could make hundreds of copies and pass them on to other people," said Frances Moore, director of the EU office of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. "Obviously that is not what the directive is supposed to say."
Moore, whose lobby represents leading record companies, argues that the text should make it clear that only copies made by an individual for his or her private use would be allowed.
The changes demanded by IFPI are bitterly opposed by rival groups currently bombarding MEPs, including Italy's Enrico Boselli, the man responsible for tabling a report on the issue for the Parliament's legal affairs committee.
On the other side of the debate is the European Fair Practice in Copyright campaign group, which represents consumer association BEUC, public service broadcasters and EACEM, the European equipment manufacturers lobby. Spokeswoman Petra Wikström claimed the changes demanded by IFPI would severely limit users' rights by, for example, prohibiting them from making copies on someone else's behalf.
"For example a parent might make a copy for a child or a librarian might print a page from the Internet for a user," she said, adding that disabled groups were also concerned that people with learning disabilities may be hit by any changes.
Also weighing in on the issue are the manufacturers of blank tapes, CDs and DVDs. The Recording media Industry Association of Europe, whose members include TDK and Kodak, claims proposed changes to the directive tabled by Boselli could lead to higher levies on their products, which are used to record content downloaded from the Internet.
The legal affairs committee is expected to vote on the Boselli report on 30 January - with the full session of the assembly giving its opinion mid-February.
A battle over consumers' rights to make private copies of music, film and video has been reignited as MEPs prepare to vote on new EU rules governing copyright protection in the digital age.
|Subject Categories||Internal Markets|