European Convention on the legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access

(ETS No. 178)

Open for signature by the member States of the Council of Europe and the other States party to the European Cultural Convention, and by the European Union, in Strasbourg, on 24 January 2001.

Entry into force: 1 July 2003.

Summary of the treaty

The Convention seeks to protect operators and providers of paid radio, tv and on-line services against unlawful reception of such services. It supplements a similar European Union directive by extending protection throughout Europe.

The States Parties to the Convention undertake to make it a criminal offence to manufacture, import, distribute, sell, offer for hire, possess or install decoders or smart cards enabling access to be obtained unlawfully to the above-mentioned services. They will also prohibit promotion, marketing or advertising of illicit devices.

The penalties provided for by the Convention include seizure and confiscation of the devices or material and of any profits or financial gain resulting from the unlawful activity.

The aim of this Convention is to help European providers of audio-visual and on-line services to reduce financial losses sustained as a result of electronic and computer piracy, in the interests of both service operators and the public.