Copyright laws: pirates pushing for reform

Some of our readers may remember the Pirate Bay saga and the attempts of various government to control the material displayed by Internet Service Providers (ISP). For those of you who don’t, please refer to our blogs of 30 April, 20 May, 1 June, and 12 June 2009.

The Swedish Pirate Party (Pirat Partiet), which is pressing for reforming copyright law in a way that suits customers in a practical way (taking an entirely fresh approach, not dissimilar to what we suggested in our  Copyright 2010, albeit with somewhat different conclusions!), is planning to assist Pirate Bay by launching its own ISP, which would offer customers a series of broadband services in full respect of privacy. Details are in the link at the bottom of the article.

The issue of how to deal with uncooperative ISPs – either in Europe or further afield – has already been exercising the minds of Europe’s politicians. The European Commission tried and failed to have a measure introduced into the EU’s 5-year security plan last year (the “Stockholm Programme”), but did succeed in persuading the EU Council of Ministers in April to adopt a policy statement earlier this year which foresees the destruction of entire ISPs and web resources deemed to be behaving illegally, through “the revocation of Domain Names and IP addresses”. Interestingly, the USA has already managed to make an entirely legitimate European company disappear from the web using a similar strategy, without attracting much publicity or protest. This incident also did not seem to persuade EU politicians of the dangers of such an approach

It is also interesting that the European Parliament reacted very quickly to the Council proposal mentioned above. Only a few weeks after the Council adopted its text, the Parliament passed a Resolution stating that it:

 “considers that, in addition to the governance principles set out by the Commission, governments should also implement the following principles: protection of the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication by avoiding any regional measures, such as revocation of IP addresses or domain names in third countries.”

 Joe McNamee, Advisor of European Digital Rights, says:

 “the Pirate ISP will probably lead European politicians to the next stage in the game of digital whack-a-mole approach where legislators find disproportionate ways of “solving” particular symptoms of the general copyright malaise. Their policies have always failed miserably (by treating the symptom and not the cause) and always leave us with a whole new range of damaging unintended consequences”.

Launch of ISP: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/swedens_pirate_party_launches_its_own_isp.php

Council Conclusions: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/jha/114028.pdf

European Parliament resolution: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2010-0208

US destruction of European websites: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/us/04bar.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=enom&st=nyt

EDRi article on online censorship: http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number8.9/Cecilia-Malmstrom-censorship

Many thanks Joe for your contribution to this post!

Post written by Francesca Re         Manning of CAS-IP

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