The European Parliament in its first reading of a bill on online piracy has voted to approve amendments suggested by the European Legal Affairs Committee designed to strengthen the position of copyright holders. MEPs (Ministers of European Parliament) voted that rights holders should receive fair compensation for the private use of downloaded material, with the exception of printed music. On the controversial issue of how to control the pirating of music and written material, the amendments stipulate that private copying should be authorized by writer or permitted by law and must have no economic significance for the rights holders. This amendment has been contested between libraries, research institutes and telecommunications companies and groups representing artists, publishers and producers. MEPs decided on tougher action to deter piracy, but voted to allow member states flexibility where copying was not for indirect, economic or commercial advantage. A number of amendments aimed at outlawing hacking devices were also adopted. The Single Market Commissioner, Mario Monti, is quoted in the proposal document as saying the aim of the bill is to guarantee the high level of protection of intellectual property necessary to encourage creativity and investment within the European Union. The bill is however, a long way from becoming law. The amended document now goes to the Council of Ministers, who will probably make a number of recommendations and pass it back to the European Parliament for a second reading. Once the bill is eventually passed, member countries will have three years within which to bring their laws in line with its directives.