Thursday, March 01, 2007

EDRI-gram latest

The latest EDRI-gram is even more packed with useful digital rights stories than usual, all of which are recommended reading. Ian Brown's contribution on the International Intellectual Property Alliance's latest Section 301 report, that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, is particularly worth a perusal.

"This "Special 301" procedure can lead to significant trade sanctions against countries that are judged to be uncooperative in the US drive for ever stronger intellectual property rights. It has been used over the last two decades to bully developing nations into signing quite inappropriate IP agreements such as the World Trade Organisation's TRIPS and "TRIPS plus" Free Trade Agreements with the US...

To their credit, ten EU nations are included in IIPA's hit list, which makes some extraordinary demands. Greece is told that immigrant street vendors involved in copyright infringement should be deported and that tax authorities should audit software licences for all firms. Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania are scolded for concentrating police, prosecutor and judicial attention on their societies' most pressing problems rather than on cases of copyright infringement, while Latvia is warned that it must fully staff its new IPR enforcement police division. Lithuania and Poland are also instructed to increase Customs operations against the import of infringing goods. Italy, Greece, Poland and Sweden are criticised for privacy laws that prevent ISPs disclosing the identity of their customers to right holders based upon an Internet Protocol address. Sweden is admonished for "society's high acceptance of filesharing" and its "notoriety as a piracy safe haven" - and yet right holders are "deeply concerned" about discussion of a compulsory licence to provide artists with compensation for filesharing. Poland's universities and lecturers are instructed to "cultivate a climate of respect for copyright" amongst their students, and Hungary told to "closely monitor" its high-speed academic network for copyright infringement. Spain's prosecutors, judges and law students apparently need some re-education in the value of intellectual property rights, while the Spanish government is ordered to reverse the "stunning" decision of the General Public Prosecutor that his staff have more pressing concerns than the criminal prosecution of peer-to-peer downloaders."

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