EUCD / Information Society Directive

Under the EUCD, it is a criminal act to circumvent encryption to access a copyrighted work. The work can only be accessed via "approved" software. Thus, the public cannot choose the software they use to play a DVD, or open an encrypted document, even if they have a legal right to view the content of that DVD or document. Also, the public has no way to make use of the "fair dealing" rights that they are given by copyright law (called "fair use" in the US). The approved software might not provide a means to exercise these, so the public still has it's rights, but it's illegal to exercise them. The European Parliament have given the content industry a legal way to override the law of EU states.

One negative implication is that Free Software DVD players are now classed as "protection-defeating devices". Writing or owning such software is a criminal act, even if you only use it to view DVDs that you have legally purchased! These restrictions make it inconvenient for people to use Free Software.

The EP have already adopted the EUCD, so all EU states have to implement these changes to national law. This is a battle that we lost, BUT, European directives are reviewed every three years. The Free Software community, and other civil liberties groups and librarians associations must fight the EUCD at it's review. We must get our rights back.

Ireland was the seventh EU state to implement the EUCD. The ten countries joining the EU in 2004 have already implemented it as part of their accession process. It is currently being implemented by EU member states. More information about the implementation of the EUCD by EU states is available in a report by the Foundation for Information Policy Research (September 2003).

Letters written by members of IFSO to MEPs are recorded on our documents page.