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Protecting electronic pay services against piracy

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Protecting electronic pay services against piracy

The objective of this directive on the legal protection of services based on conditional access (i.e. access in return for a subscription) is to protect electronic pay services against piracy. It prohibits all commercial activities involving the manufacture, distribution or marketing of smart cards (plastic cards with built-in microprocessors or microchips) and other devices which make it possible to bypass protected access to television, radio and Internet pay services.

ACT

Directive 98/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 1998 on the legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access.

SUMMARY

Scope

The directive covers all services supplied on the basis of conditional access, such as pay-television and pay-radio services, on-demand video and audio services, electronic publishing and a large range of on-line services that are available to the public on a subscription or pay-per-view basis.

Illicit activities

Each EU country must introduce laws to ban:

  • the production, import, sale, rental or possession for commercial profit of illegal equipment or software enabling the unauthorised access to a protected service;
  • installing, servicing or replacing illegal equipment for commercial profit;
  • advertising that promotes illegal equipment or software.

Penalties and remedies

Each EU country must ensure it enacts measures:

  • to introduce sanctions which are effective, dissuasive and proportional to the potential impact of the unlawful behaviour;
  • to ensure that service providers adversely affected by unlawful behaviour can go to court to seek damages and an injunction and, where appropriate, apply for the seizure of illegal devices.

Principles relating to the internal market

EU countries may not restrict the:

  • provision of protected services, or associated services, that originate in other EU countries;
  • free movement of conditional access devices, except those devices designated as illicit by the directive (i.e. any equipment or software designed or adapted to give access to a protected service in an intelligible form without the authorisation of the service provider).

Council of Europe Convention

In 2014, the EU took a decision to sign the Council of Europe Convention on the legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access, which entered into force in 2003. The signing by the EU of the Convention is likely to encourage other members of the Council of Europe to ratify. This would extend the application of rules similar to those in Directive 98/84/EC beyond the EU’s borders, and thus result in a law on services based on conditional access which would be applicable throughout the European continent.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 98/84/EC

28.11.1998

28.5.2000

OJ L 320, 28.11.1998, p. 54-57

RELATED ACTS

Council Decision 2014/243/EU of 14 April 2014 on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of the European Convention on the legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access. (OJ L 128 of 30 April 2014, p. 61-61).

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Second Report on the implementation of Directive 98/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 1998 on the legal protection of services based on, and consisting of, conditional access (COM(2008) 593 final of 30 September 2008).

On the legal protection of electronic pay services - Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee on the implementation of Directive 98/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 1998 on the legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access (COM(2003) 198 final of 24 April 2003).

Last updated: 23.09.2014

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