EU passes anti-piracy directive

28 Apr 2004

The EU has adopted its long-awaited ‘Enforcement Directive’, designed to improve tools for fighting piracy and counterfeiting in the region.

Software industry watchdog the Business Software Alliance (BSA) welcomed it as a first step to curtailing the growth of piracy, which threatens national economies and creative industries across the European Union.

The BSA hopes the directive will help promote creativity, innovation and employment in the EU by introducing new enforcement tools that tackle piracy such as searches, seizures and injunctions. In addition, there will be a right of information allowing judges to order certain persons to reveal the names and addresses of those involved in manufacturing and distributing the illegal goods. The directive also requires member states to provide meaningful remedies against infringements, including damages that will strongly deter piracy, which currently stands at 35pc of all software in Western Europe.

However, although the directive lays out harmonised rules and aims to iron out irregularities, it is largely limited to the civil sphere. The BSA argues that criminal sanctions are also an essential element of effective enforcement.

Francisco Mingorance, director of Policy, BSA EMEA commented: “Clearly we appreciate the efforts of the EU in recognising the seriousness of the piracy problem but the work of Member States is only just beginning. With so much to gain, we urge them to implement the Enforcement Directive quickly – just as we urge the EU to fulfil its promise to the creative industry and to adopt harmonised, deterrent-level criminal rules as a matter of priority.”

Each Member State, including those accession countries joining on 1 May, now have 24 months to ‘transpose’ the Directive’s rules into national law.

The software industry has long argued that a reduction in the piracy rate by even a small percentage would lead to more jobs and tax revenues for local economies. A recent IDC study indicates that a 10 percent reduction in the European piracy rate by 2006 would create 200,000 new jobs and generate over €20bn in new tax revenues.

By Brian Skelly