The proposed law at the centre of the European Parliament debate would give news, book, music and film publishers a very high level of protection against piracy in digital media and would effectively prevent temporary copying of information on the Internet in cache servers.
But if the draft directive does become law, a whole raft of people and organsiations -- from surfers to ISPs -- could unwittingly become criminals.
ISPA UK, the Internet Services Providers Association, has repeatedly asked for a clearer legal framework for the Internet and urged the Government to abolish these amendments to the draft directive. An ISPA spokesperson was not avaialble for comment.
Fearing huge losses from lost royalties, the European music industry -- backed by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) -- this week petitioned euro MPs to re-jig the directive to take into account the growth of new technologies such as the Internet. Stars including Robbie Williams, The Corrs, Jean-Michel Jarre and the Spice Girls inked the petition which was handed to euro MPs yesterday. Adrian Strain, director of communications at the British Phonographic Industry told ZDNet that it "was the right move". But he added, "we are by no means gloating on the success".
"European Parliament has largely supported the amendments except one. This is a good step forward," he said.
However, some observers fear that euro MPs -- many of them technically unsavvy -- were heavily bombarded by lobbyists, in particular record companies representing big, influential names in the music industry.
Although European Parliament has agreed to nearly all of the updates, the copyright directive is small step further along the winding route to becoming law.