Beware the EUCD!

The EU Council of Ministers has passed the European Union Copyright Directive, which will be enacted in the UK within 16 months.

This chilling piece of legislation threatens the academic community's ability to conduct research into cryptography (the cornerstone of many protocols used to exchange information on the Internet).

Equivalent legislation was passed in the USA in 1998 as the "Digital Millenium Copyright Act" (DMCA). The DMCA has already been used to:

The mere threat of prosecution under the DMCA has caused European programmers and academics to demand that Academic conferences be held outside the USA, so that they can attend in safety. Unfortunately, once the EUCD has been passed into law, it won't be safe for those involved in cryptographic research to remain in Europe, either.

The new law will enable the entertainment industry to charge more for CDs and DVDs, by making it illegal to circumvent planned restrictions on the use of its products. The intention is to lock playbacks of particular music or videos to particular people, and charge for each playback. We do not dispute that the people who make good music and films are entitled to be rewarded for their efforts. What they do not deserve is the artificial profits generated from sabotaging their own products so they can only be enjoyed by a single person, or a limited number of times, or in a particular region (this is already happening with DVDs).

What can be done about this?

The UK Campaign for Digital Rights has formed to ensure that by the time that the EUCD is passed into law, it has been revised to the extent that it no longer threatens academic research or the public's ability to make fair use of electronic books, music and videos. We are working together with industry, academics, the Foundation for Information Policy Research ( and similar organisations throughout Europe.

We are looking for volunteers to assist in lobbying Parliament, raising awareness and gathering support throughout the country.

For more information, see:, or email