AEPOC Extends Anti-Piracy Focus to Eastern Europe

21 April 2009

  • AEPOC convention in Prague looks at audio-visual Piracy in Eastern Europe

  • Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic highlights Piracy

  • Wholesaler of piracy equipment sentenced to jail for the first time in Germany

  • Improvement of CA-Directive set in motion

AEPOC, the European Association for the Protection of Encrypted Works and Services, supports the Eastern European countries to repel audio-visual piracy: AEPOC's commitment based on the "Budapest Agenda" was underlined in Prague on March 19 with the Association holding its recent Board of Directors meeting in the Czech Republic.

During the meeting an insight into the situation of audio-visual piracy in the country was given. The transition from analogue to digital has helped significantly to lower piracy, however, the issue continues to be a serious problem. The AEPOC meeting in Prague coincided with The Czech Ministry of Culture's 'Media Literary Conference' where the issue of Piracy was high on the agenda. Similar to AEPOC's viewpoint representatives from different organisations such as The Czech Anti-Piracy Union and the Ministry of Culture from Lithuania see a high level of cooperation of all stakeholders essential to help overcome piracy. Building increased awareness among the public is key to underline why piracy is so harmful as it puts cultural diversity, artistic creation and also social employment at stake, besides the risk for consumers to expose themselves to litigation when making use of illegal offerings.
AEPOC and its members companies, active in all European countries as well as in Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, North Africa and the Arab World, continue building strong relationships with EU bodies, national legislative and law enforcement units as well as partner anti-piracy associations to support this cooperative fight against audio-visual piracy.

Wholesaler of piracy equipment sentenced to jail for the first time in Germany

At the end of last year for the first time ever in Germany a dealer selling Pay-TV cards for pirate viewing was given a suspended prison sentence. The ruling resulted from a criminal complaint made by AEPOC member Premiere. In 2005, the dealer had traded over 1,400 pirated cards which, in combination with a certain pirate software programme available online, could be used to receive Premiere illegally at the time. The lower-court judgment delivered by the Court of Hamburg-Barmbek was limited to a fine, but the state prosecutor appealed that ruling. The Pay-TV pirate was subsequently given a suspended sentence to eight months in prison. In addition, the defendant was ordered to pay for all the legal costs incurred as result of the proceedings, which spanned more than three years in total. The Regional Court of Hamburg found the dealer guilty of selling around 600 of those illegal cards for more than EUR 33,000; 800 more cards were confiscated in a police raid in late 2005. The conviction was based on the Act for the Protection of Conditional Access Services [Gesetz über den Schutz von zugangskontrollierten Diensten (ZKDSG)], which is the national application of the EU Directive to protect CA services. In the field of Pay-TV piracy, this is the first time a defendant was sentenced to prison by a German court for such an offence. Even though the sentence was suspended, this case clearly underscores that the authorities and judiciary are becoming increasingly strict towards audiovisual piracy. Particularly in cases in which the card alone is insufficient for illegal decryption, it is very important for the state prosecutor to supply evidence of illegal use. In the case in question, the state prosecutor succeeded in doing so, since the sole purpose of the cards was to enable the use of the separate internet software in order to constitute a "means of circumvention" in the legal sense of ZKDSG. German courts had already prohibited the sale of so-called "blank cards", which were mainly intended to enable illegal viewing of Pay-TV when programmed to do so.

Improved enforcement of CA-Directive set in motion

The process to improve the enforcement of the Conditional Access Directive was set in further motion with the first meeting of the "High Level Expert Group", including representatives of all 27 Member States as well as stakeholders such as AEPOC member companies. The meeting took place on January 16, 2009 and continues to fulfil the considerable work programme set by the European Commission for the benefit of the Internal market for Conditional Access Services. AEPOC is in direct dialogue with the Commission and Member Commissioner Charlie McCreevy to identify further opportunities for cooperation to support this process.

Jean Grenier, President of AEPOC, said: "AEPOC is pleased to be able to offer support to individual countries in their fight against audio-visual piracy based on AEPOC's Budapest Agenda. We shall continue the dialogue with Eastern European countries, their national regulatory bodies and stakeholders to strive for a solid implementation of the Conditional Access Directive."

The next AEPOC meeting is planned for June 2009.

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