Europe considers harsh piracy law

Tuesday, 16 March 2004, 2:06 PM EST

The European Parliament approved a controversial piracy law that would allow local police to raid the homes and offices of suspected intellectual-property pirates, search their financial records and even freeze suspects' bank accounts.

The European Union's directive covers selling everything from pirated CDs and counterfeit toys to fake Chanel and Viagra.

Organizations that suspect their intellectual property has been violated can obtain search-and-seizure orders and injunctions. The measure passed last week by a vote of 330 to 151, but not without some last-minute brokering by European Parliament President Pat Cox. Various industry groups had pushed for a tougher directive that would have included the threat of criminal sanctions. Consumer-rights groups such as the European Consumers' Organization charged that the law was overly broad and would re-create the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in Europe.

By Mat Schwartz at Wired.

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