An amendment designed to protect Internet users from the anti-piracy lobby has been rejected by President Sarkozy of the European Council.
The rejection goes against the will of the European Parliament, where 88% of the members already voted in favor of the amendment, which was originally destined to protect file-sharers from Internet disconnection under the ‘3 strikes' framework.
This was much needed, as in recent years, anti-piracy lobby groups have called for tougher monitoring of Internet users and are actively working to erode their rights further.
The amendment, drafted by Guy Bono and other members of the European Parliament, was supposed to put a halt to the march of the anti-piracy lobby. However, despite the fact that is was adopted by an overwhelming majority, with 573 parliament
members voting in favor with just 74 rejections, the European Council went against this democratic vote.
In September, Bono stated in a response to the vote: You do not play with individual freedoms like that, going on to say that the French government should review its three-strikes law. Sarkozy had other plans though, and in his position of
President of the European Council, he convinced his friends to reject the proposal.
After high-level discussions on the piracy situation in 2008, the Italian government has announced the signing of an agreement which will see it collaborate with the French on the issue. Of concern to those sharing files online, Minister of
Culture Sandro Bondi says Italy will follow the French model.
In 2003, Silvio Berlusconi’s government passed some of the most aggressive copyright laws in Europe, but ultimately the authorities didn’t give them the support demanded by the entertainment industries.
Then in January 2007, Rome’s top criminal court announced that downloading films, music or software from the Internet should not be considered a crime if done for no profit, backing the likes of the IFPI and MPAA into a corner with fewer
In October 2008 a technical roundtable got underway in Italy which promoted collaboration between the music, movie and ISPs. In basic terms, in part it was a discussion about the mechanics of implementing a 3 strikes response’ to
deal with piracy on P2P networks.
In a few weeks time, members of the European Parliament will vote on the Medina report, which proposes a wide range of anti-piracy measures and regulations. The report specifically mentions The Pirate Bay , and it approves actions by
national courts against the popular BitTorrent tracker.
The proposals in the report, drafted by the Spanish socialist Manuel Medina Ortega, show many similarities to the wish lists of the RIAA, IFPI and MPAA. The report calls for more responsibility and liability for ISPs, while copyright infringing
content has to be filtered from the Internet.
Even though the European Parliament has voted against so called three-strikes proposals twice before, this is also suggested as a viable measure against piracy. It's proposed that ISPs should disconnect subscribers who share copyrighted
content, based on information provided by the entertainment industry.
In addition, national courts are encouraged to take action against BitTorrent sites such as The Pirate Bay . Apparently, the report deems BitTorrent sites to be illegal - which is a bold statement without any legal backup. Last year, Italy
imposed a nation wide block on The Pirate Bay, but this was reversed in court due to a lack of jurisdiction; this might change if the new proposals are adopted.
In a draft of the report we read The activities of websites that are part of the peer-to-peer phenomenon and which allow downloading of protected works or services without the necessary authorisation are illegal, and no exception can be
applied to them. So the activity of internet users who send files to their peers must be regarded as an illegal act of communication to the public without the possibility of exceptions being applied.
Of course, we encourage all of our European readers to write to their representatives in the European Parliament, as this is clearly not the right path to take.
The shutdown of Napster forced the development of decentralized networking. When targeting centralized networks no longer bore fruit, the entertainment industry tried flooding networks with corrupt files. When the file-sharing community responded
with verified files, lawsuits became the norm. When lawsuits failed to make a dent in the P2P population, the next great vision of copyright enforcement came forth: 3 strikes and you're outta here!
France was the first country to drive this policy forward. While the 3 strikes policy has yet to become law in France, New Zealand was the first to sign it into law. The domino effect extended to Italy, which has indicated a willingness to follow
the French model.
Ireland's largest ISP Eircom was forced into a similar agreement, when it finally relented to the IFPI. It appears the ISP was attempting to put up a legal fight, but settled 8 days into litigation. It was the first time an ISP was sued for
copyright infringement and forced to adopt the policy.
In Germany, the tide appears to be turning decidedly against the entertainment industry. As reported by P2P Blog.com and the German blog Spreeblick, German ISPs are breathing a sigh of relief after an statement from Secretary of Justice Brigitte
Zypries sided with their cause.
I don't think that (Three Strikes) is a fitting model for Germany or even Europe. Preventing someone from accessing the Internet seems like a completely unreasonable punishment to me. It would be highly problematic due to both constitutional
and political aspects. I'm sure that once the first disconnects are going to happen in France, we will be hearing the outcry all the way to Berlin.
The French government have now passed a "three strikes" law against Internet violators who file-share and download or upload copyrighted material.
According to the bill, known as Hadopi -- as it proposes a High Authority for the Diffusion of Oeuvres and the Protection of Rights on the Internet -- a new government agency, Haute Autorité (High Authority), will be
established to monitor and investigate file-sharing complaints made by copyright holders.
If the agency rules that infringement occurred, it will send out a warning letter to the Internet service account holder, also suggesting they check if their connection -- especially via WiFi -- is secure as hijacked service will not be a
defence. A second letter will follow if there's another offence within a year. And if there's a third, the government body can order the Internet Service Provider to cut off access.
The new agency will also have wide berth with regard to who gets cut off and for how long. However, businesses will get a pass if the offender is an employee, a move that may not pass muster with the French constitution, just as the EU Parliament
ruled that approach violates established civil and privacy laws.
TechDirt notes that perhaps the oddest part of the law is the Hallyday Clause , named for senior citizen French rocker Johnny Hallyday, a tax-dodging expatriate in Switzerland since 2006. The portion of the bill that uses his name says
that downloading copyrighted material of those sheltered from taxes by living outside France or not properly paying taxes will bring a lesser punishment than downloading artists who fulfill tax obligations.
The French National Assembly has rejected a law that threatened to suspend the Internet access of those caught downloading copyright works without permission.
Deputies in the National Assembly rejected a compromise text proposed by a joint commission of lawmakers from the Assembly and the Senate, just hours after the Senate had approved it.
In the mostly empty chamber of the National Assembly, 15 deputies voted in favor and 21 voted against, according to local news reports.
Conflicting versions of the law were voted by the French National Assembly last week and the French Senate last year, forcing the government to appoint a joint commission composed of members of the two houses of the French parliament to reconcile
the differences in a final text.
Now that the Assembly has rejected the compromise text, it must once again be debated, and perhaps amended, by both chambers of the French parliament.
Taiwan has just approved new legislation which effectively bans the use of P2P technology to facilitate the distribution of copyrighted works online. The legislation also requires ISPs to start a ‘3 strikes’ regime for file-sharers.
Taiwan passed revisions to its copyright laws which hit file-sharing pretty hard. The amendment makes it a crime to use P2P technology to facilitate the distribution of copyrighted works online, which sounds like pretty bad news for Taiwanese
torrent sites who previously operated in a legal gray area.
For ISPs, the legislation provides a double-edged sword. The plus side is that in future ISPs will be exempt from taking responsibility for the copyright infringing actions of their customers, under a DMCA-style ’safe harbor’ provision, coupled
with a ‘takedown’ system for alleged infringing content.
The downside is ISPs will have to introduce a ‘3 strikes’ regime for subscribers accused of infringement by copyright holders. After the third ’strike’, the ISP can take a range of measures against the user including throttling or disconnection.
France's anti-file sharing legislation is back on the table in France as debates began again Wednesday in the nation's parliament.
The provisions of the latest submission would create a state-run agency to first warn users by e-mail if found guilty of engaging in Web copyright violations, followed by a certified postal letter if violations continue and then, suspension of
Internet service. The previous bill would've made users continue to pay for service, but has now been removed from the law's language.
Opponents argue the new Internet Piracy Bill is intrusive, violates citizen privacy, would be difficult to put in place, is easy to get around by savvy Web users and sharing sites, and also would generate no new revenue for the artists, producers
or telcom companies saddled with overseeing Internet suspensions. There are also concerns regarding those accused of piracy who may well be innocent, hackers using their service, yet still find their Internet service cut off.
The European Parliament has cast its final vote in favor of an amendment that will prevent member states from implementing three-strikes laws. Disconnecting alleged file-sharers based on evidence from anti-piracy lobby groups restricts the rights
and freedoms of Internet users, according to the amendment.
In a vote, 407 Members of Parliament voted in favor of the amendment while only 57 were opposed. The amendment of the Telecoms package is now likely to be signed into law.
This is a step in the right direction, and it clearly goes against Sweden’s IPRED and France’s HADOPI laws. Let’s hope this will at least prevent other member states of the EU following the lead of these two countries.
Three strikes is out in France. And probably dead, too. After being passed last month by French lawmakers, the graduated-response HADOPI law has been ruled unconstitutional by the nation's Constitutional Council.
HADOPI, named for the high authority organization that would administer the law, would force Internet service providers to cut-off access for accused copyright infringers after the third warning was issued.
The Register reports the court said the law conflicted with France's 220-year-old 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, articles 5, 9 and 11.
Freedom of expression and communication is all the more valuable that its exercise is a prerequisite for democracy and one of the guarantees of respect for other rights and freedoms and that attacks on the exercise of this freedom must be
necessary, appropriate and proportionate to the aim pursued, the council wrote.
So now, the law exists, but is toothless; entertainment rights organizations may still send out letters, as they have in the past to alleged copyright violators, but cannot threaten an ISP service cut-off and will have to pursue other legal
TorrentFreak notes that France's HADOPI also ran counter to the European Parliament, which found that that disconnection of accused infringers violates fundamental rights and freedoms of Internet users. The Constitutional Council did state that
an Internet connection may be severed if a court rules that the accused actually conducted illegal file-sharing.
But the battle for Internet control in France isn't over yet. The government is also seeking to pass LOPPSI, a bill designed to filter Web content.
France's highest constitutional authority ruled in June that Internet access is a fundamental human right, killing the three-strikes provision in the so-called Hadopi anti-piracy legislation. Today the infamous anti-piracy bill is back and in its
revamped form has just been adopted by the Senate. 3 Strikes is back on the table. Again.
The Constitutional Council had taken a similar stance to that of the European Parliament, deeming the proposed “3 strikes” regime for dealing with illicit file-sharers unconstitutional. They said that individuals must have a fair trial and
striking an individual from the Internet is something only a judge can do after a hearing.
So now in modified form the bill is back. Moving the decision to disconnect file-sharers away from the Hadopi agency to the courts, the new version of the law addresses the objections of the Constitutional Council by presenting 3 strikes cases to a judge, who will fast-track decisions in around 5 minutes per case.
The new structure is as follows. When an individual is warned about an infringement for a third time, the Hadopi agency will report the offender to a judge. After a hearing the judge will have the power to cut the individual off from the
Internet, issue a fine of up to 300,000 euros, or even hand out a 2 year jail sentence.
ISP account holders who find themselves accused over the infringements of a 3rd party could be found guilty of negligence , risking a maximum 1,500 euro fine and a 4 week disconnection.
The revamped bill was adopted today by the French Senate and in the next few weeks will head to the National Assembly for its adoption.
The details of the revised 3 Strikes proposal have been released by the New Zealand government, and despite public demands that Internet disconnection be taken off the table, it still remains. The only change of substance addresses guilt upon
accusation concerns, where ISPs and copyright holders previously determined copyright infringement, so that now the govt's own Copyright Tribunal makes the decision and metes out punishment.
The latest revision to Section 92a of the Copyright Act reads:
Phase 1- First Infringement and Cease and Desist Notice Procedure
Where a Rights Holder (RH) considers on reasonable grounds that there has been online copyright infringement of one or more of its works, RHs may invoke the section s92A procedure by sending a first infringement notice to an ISP. The notice will
contain sufficient details to allow the ISP to identify the subscriber. This notice must then be forwarded by the ISP to the subscriber.
If there is further copyright infringement by that subscriber, a RH may send, via the ISP, a cease and desist notice. The subscriber will have an opportunity (30 days) to reply to either notice by way of a response notice directly to the RH with
their name and contact details attached. Upon receiving a response notice, a RH will be required to accept or reject it and inform the subscriber accordingly.
Phase 2- Obtain Copyright Tribunal Order
Where a RH considers on reasonable grounds that there has been further (repeat) copyright infringement by a particular subscriber after a cease and desist notice has been sent, and the subscriber concerned has been provided with an opportunity to
respond by way of a response notice, a RH may apply to the Copyright Tribunal to obtain an order requiring the ISP to provide the name and contact details of the alleged copyright infringer (the subscriber).
Phase 3- Copyright Tribunal
A RH may then register an infringement complaint with the Copyright Tribunal which will ensure that the infringement complaint complies with requirements in statute/regulation. A RH may then notify the subscriber that an allegation of repeat
copyright infringement has been lodged against them. The subscriber will have an opportunity to respond to the allegation and to elect to proceed to mediation. The Copyright Tribunal will be convened unless agreed otherwise. The Copyright
Tribunal, in addition to available relief by way of damages, injunctions, account of profits or otherwise, may consider ordering a subscriber to pay a fine or an ISP to terminate the subscriber's internet account.
The Internet Society of New Zealand (InternetNZ), a non-profit organization dedicated to unfettered access for all, says the latest proposal is a mixed bag that tries to combine the benefits of a notice and notice approach with the toxic
remains of a termination regime. Also, issues of ISP definition and safe harbor do not appear to have been addressed.
ISP Karoo, based in Hull, has changed its policy of suspending the service of users suspected of copyright violations.
The about face was made following a BBC story outlining the firm's practice.
Karoo issued a statement saying that it has been exceeding the expectations of copyright owners. The firm will now adopt a three strikes rule, in which suspected file-sharers will receive three written warnings before action is
We have always taken a firm line on the alleged abuse of our internet connections, said Nick Thompson, director of consumer and publishing services, in the statement: It is evident that we have been exceeding the expectations of
copyright owners, the media and internet users. So, we have changed our policy to move in more line with the industry standard approach.
Karoo - the only ISP in the area, which has no BT lines - long held a policy of suspending service of suspected file-sharers. In order to get their service restored, customers had to sign a document promising not to repeat the offence.
Andrea Robinson, a Karoo customer, told the BBC that a day after her service was cut off, she received a letter from the firm claiming that she had been using the peer-to-peer file-sharing service BitTorrent to download the film Terminator
On calling Karoo, she was told to visit the company's offices to resolve the issue. They gave me a form to sign to get reconnected. The form basically said 'if I admit my guilt you'll reconnect me'. So I didn't sign it and walked out.
Jim Killock, executive director of the digital rights activists The Open Rights Group, told the BBC that it is totally unfair to disconnect people without notice: In fact, disconnection is something that should only even possibly be
considered as a result of court action .
There's a disturbing new development in Australia. A law proposal was disclosed to the public that would get ISPs to spy on the contents of all communications to monitor for compliance. Presumably, the amendments would get Australian ISPs to
monitor their networks for p2p activity and hand all their information to copyright holders.
The Electronic Frontier Australia commented in a consultation response:
EFA's submission addresses our key concern that the proposed legislation provides a very broad exception to the prohibition on interception of network communications for the purposes of ensuring that a network is
‘appropriately used'. This is a very broad category that means that all network operators in Australia will be able to monitor the substance of communications that pass over their network for compliance with their Acceptable Use Policies – the
terms of which could include nearly anything.
This proposed changed threatens to radically alter the ability of network operators to intercept, store, and disclose information passing over their networks. There are no safeguards to prevent disclosure to law enforcement agencies or third
parties. It is entirely possible for these new provisions to be used to examine P2P filesharing data for copyright violations, for example, and to disclose any captured information to copyright owners.
In other words, these amendments could be used to get ISPs to do all the dirty work for the copyright industry.
Section 5(1) effectively provides that network protection duties includes monitoring the content of communications in order to ascertain whether the network is being appropriately used. Because of the broad
undefined nature of the term appropriately used and the fact that many AUPs may contain restrictions not on protocols or services that internet uses may use but upon the purpose for which those communications are being made, this provision
opens the bulk of network communications to potential interception and continuing surveillance.
At best, this law should be a frightening prospect to all internet users, not just file-sharers as this is a huge infringement of personal privacy. While Canada is currently in the midst of mulling lawful access once again,
at least the scope was far narrower than this. Even the US, home of the much despised DMCA didn't go this far. Even the French three strikes law required some action from rights holders. To date, this appears to be the worst ISP law proposal
we've ever seen followed closely by Austrian newspapers wanting to use data retention to enforce copyright.
The law proposal will be debated in the Australian parliament in December.
Seven million people could be criminalised under government plans to crack down on internet piracy, to be included in this autumn's Queen's Speech.
The illicit downloading of music and films on the internet, a practice engaged in by one in 12 of the population, could lead to severe restrictions on internet access and a fine of up to £50,000.
Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, is said to be persuaded by the argument for tough laws to curb illegal file-sharing after an intensive lobbying campaign by influential people in the music and film industry.
But Tom Watson, the former minister for digital engagement, today criticises the proposed crackdown as extreme and calls for a more measured approach that would target those who uploaded illegal content, rather than the millions who downloaded
His intervention comes in the week after the Pirate Party, announced it would fight the next general election in Britain. The new Pirate Party UK was reported to be recruiting as many as 100 people every hour since its launch last week. Among its
supporters was Stephen Fry, who applauded the new party on Twitter. The organisers said they now had 259 fully paid-up members, although hundreds more had shown an interest in joining.
When the Digital Britain report was published in June, the Government appeared to row back from a hardline stance on illegal downloading. But a consultation document on the latest plans, which could be tagged on to a Bill in the next Queen's
Speech, makes it clear that ministers favour tough sanctions.
Under the proposed laws, Ofcom, the industry regulator, would be given powers to require internet service providers to collect information on those who downloaded pirate material. The data would be anonymous, but serious repeat infringers would
be tracked down through their computer ID numbers. Individuals would be hit by restricted internet access – from slowing down broadband to blocking access altogether – and could face fines of up to £50,000.
Andrew Robinson, the leader of the Pirate Party UK, said that the new laws would be a gross intrusion into civil liberties, and would penalise people in the same household as those who had broken the law.
Robinson, a graphic designer and part-time musician, is planning to stand in his home constituency of Worcester, where the Labour MP Michael Foster is defending a majority of 3,144. He said: This is about proving to the major parties that
there are so many votes to be had in adopting policies like ours. The pro-copyright lobby is very powerful.
People who persist in swapping copyrighted films and music will have their internet connections cut off under new laws to be proposed by the government.
The measures also include taking the power to target illegal downloaders away from regulator Ofcom and giving it to ministers to speed up the process.
The decision to cut off peer-to-peer filesharers is unexpected since it was ruled out by the government's own Digital Britain report in June as going too far.
But today the government will take the unusual step of proposing much stricter rules midway through the Digital Britain consultation process. Illegal filesharers will still get warning letters but if they continue to swap copyrighted material
they could have their internet connection temporarily severed, although it may be possible to retain basic access to online public services.
In the UK, privacy groups are likely to challenge any similar legislation as contrary to human rights law.
The surprise move will intensify speculation that Peter Mandelson reached a secret deal to protect the film and music industries with Hollywood mogul David Geffen earlier this month.
The business secretary met Geffen, founder of Asylum Records and the man who set up DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg, at a private dinner with members of the Rothschild banking dynasty at the family's holiday villa on Corfu.
Following that meeting with Geffen, a long-term and outspoken opponent of online piracy, Mandelson instructed officials at his Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), charged with tackling online piracy by June's report, to clampdown
even harder on the pirates.
Internet service providers (ISPs) have reacted with anger to new proposals on how to tackle internet piracy.
UK ISP Talk Talk said the recommendations were likely to breach fundamental rights and would not work.
TalkTalk's director of regulation Andrew Heaney told the BBC News the ISP was as keen as anyone to clamp down on illegal file-sharers: This is best done by making sure there are legal alternatives and educating people, writing letters to
alleged file-sharers and, if necessary, taking them to court. But introducing measures to simply cut people off will not work, he said.
Disconnecting alleged offenders will be futile given that it is relatively easy for determined file-sharers to mask their identity or their activity to avoid detection, he added. There are also concerns that the method of identifying
offenders using the IP address of a specific machine may punish those who share a web connection.
Don Foster MP, the Liberal Democrat's culture and media spokesman, told BBC News that Lord Mandleson's move was reckless and dangerous. There are many families whose children, unbeknown to them, might be illegally downloading but now
their own access could be put in jeopardy by Lord Mandleson's proposals.
Foster acknowledged that online piracy was a major problem in the UK but said overriding the opinion of Lord Carter and two Secretary of States was bizarre.
A bill has passed France's lower house of parliament that would cut off Internet access to surfers who download illegally.
About 1,000 French Internet users a day could be taken offline under the bill. Surfers who ignore email warnings and a registered letter could see their online connections suspended for up to a year, and they could also face up to $435,000 in
fines or jail time.
The Senate approved the bill in July, and the National Assembly followed suit with a 285-225 vote. The bill must clear at least one more vote to become law.
With the legislation, French Internet subscribers would be asked to install special software to enable authorities to track down and identify those suspected of illegal downloads.
The law is expected to come into force by the end of the year.
The results of a new poll reveal the extent of opposition to Peter Mandelson's proposals for tough sanctions against alleged file-sharers. The survey, commissioned by the Open Rights Group, shows that not only is the public in favor of due
process, but a third would be much less likely to vote for political parties supporting these proposals.
Driven largely by the big-label international music business, proposals for disconnecting alleged file-sharers are now common in many countries. Having achieved some kind of momentum in France, the lobbying shifted focus to the UK, with Mandelson
advocating harsh punishment for persistent infringers, or more accurately, those that are persistently accused.
Opposition to such plans are widespread, but until recently, public opinion hadn't been tested in a measurable way. Today we have a much clearer idea, as results from a YouGov poll commissioned by the Open Rights Group have been released.
A significant 68% of those surveyed felt that individuals accused of illicit file-sharing should have the right to a fair trial before their accounts were disconnected or otherwise interfered with as punishment. Just 16% of respondents said they
would be happy for Internet users to have their accounts automatically suspended once their ISP had received a number of accusations.
While 44% said the proposals would not influence their vote, just under a third of respondents (31%) said they would be much less likely to vote for a political party that endorsed disconnection from the Internet without a trial. Just 7%
said they were more likely to support a party bringing in such sanctions.
Jim Killock, executive director at the Open Rights Group, feels that the government is out of step. Our conclusion must be that this is a politically unwise move, that will be unpopular and a vote loser for its architects, he said, noting
that such measures will fail to meet their objectives. [They] won't make a single penny for artists, or help online music businesses get off the ground, he added.
Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw has revealed that controversial measures to tackle illegal file-sharing will be watered down following fierce opposition.
He told the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee that rights holders will have to obtain a court order before punishing persistent offenders by reducing or cutting off their internet connections.
Earlier this year, business secretary Lord Mandelson said that internet service providers would be forced to hand over information on customers who used illegal sites heavily to music companies and film studios so that they could take action.
Giving evidence to MPs, Bradshaw also said that those targeted would also have the right to appeal against the decision. Those concessions will be seen as an attempt to assuage the concerns of those who believe the proposed remedy is
France's top constitutional court has approved a revised plan to penalize those accused multiple times of infringing intellectual property.
Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, applauded the French court's decision. Today's decision is an enormous victory for creators everywhere, Glickman said. It is our hope that ISPs will fully
honor their promise to cooperate and that the French government will take the necessary measures to dedicate resources to handle the enormous task ahead.
Under the law, a new agency will be created that will issue termination notices to Internet service providers, and they will in turn cut off access to customers accused of piracy. But first, in cases where the agency wants to terminate service,
it must first go through some kind of judicial review.
One of the ways the law was revised to gain acceptance by the French court is to require a judge to review each case before anyone's Internet access is shut down.
The European Parliament has given the green light for member states to cut persistent file-sharers off from the net.
It has dropped an amendment to its Telcoms Package which would have made it hard for countries to cut off pirates without court authority.
It follows pressure from countries keen to adopt tough anti-piracy laws. The French government has just approved plans which could see pirates removed from the net for up to a year.
An amendment to the European Parliament's forthcoming telecoms legislation was designed to protect citizens against being automatically cut off from the net.
Amendment 138 read: Any such measures liable to restrict those fundamental rights or freedoms may only be taken in exceptional circumstances...and shall be subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention
for the Protection of Human Rights.. including effective judicial protection and due process.
Dropping it effectively means that individual countries would be able to ask internet service providers to remove users deemed to be persistent pirates without needing a prior court order.
Peter Mandelson, the business secretary, warned internet users that the days of consequence-free illegal filesharing are over as he unveiled the government's plan for cracking down on online piracy.
He confirmed that the internet connections of persistent offenders could be blocked - but only as a last resort - from the summer of 2011. He added that a legislate and enforce strategy was the only way to protect the intellectual property
rights of content producers.
The strategy, which will be officially set out in the government's digital economy bill in late November, will involve a staged process of warning notifications with internet suspension as a last resort. The legislation is expected to come into
force in April next year.
The effectiveness of the warning letters to persistent illegal filesharers will be monitored for the first 12 months. If illegal filesharing has not dropped by 70% by April 2011, then cutting off people's internet connections could be introduced
three months later, from the summer of that year.
If we reach the point of suspension for an individual, they will be informed in advance, having previously received two notifications - and will have the opportunity to appeal, Mandelson added. The British government's view is that
taking people's work without due payment is wrong and that, as an economy based on creativity, we cannot sit back and do nothing as this happens.
There would be a proper route of appeal for those that do have their internet accounts suspended, Mandelson said. He added that he did not want to see internet service providers unfairly burdened by the new system. ISPs and
rights-holders will share the costs, on the basis of a flat fee that will allow both sides to budget and plan, he said.
The staged roll-out of the strategy will see Ofcom assess the effectiveness of the warning notification system on cutting illegal filesharing, backed by the threat of legal action by rights holders and content companies, in about April 2011.
Cutting off illegal filesharers' internet access was originally ruled out in Lord Carter's Digital Britain report released in June. However, in August Mandelson's department for business innovation and skills launched a consultation document that
proposed considering taking a tougher stance, including suspending internet connections.
TalkTalk, the UK's second largest ISP, owner of the Tiscali and AOL brands and operator of the Dont Disconnnect Us website, went much further.
The approach is based on the principle of 'guilty until proven innocent' and substitutes proper judicial process for a kangaroo court. What is being proposed is wrong in principle and it won't work in practice. We know this approach will lead
to wrongful accusations, said Andrew Heaney, TalkTalk's Executive Director of Strategy and Regulation.
According to a report this morning, TalkTalk is now threatening to launch legal action if Mandelson makes good on his threats and implements any disconnection scheme without due process.
Comment: File sharing is bad. Your proposals are WORSE
From Shaun who wrote to his MP, John Healey
I ask you again: Who voted for this seemingly nasty (obviously completely technically illiterate) piece of work to decide this issue on our behalf?
No ordinary UK citizen (none NL member) did, that's for sure.
You know we are supposed to have a (semblance at least, of) democracy in this country, not should have to accept some unelected stooge deciding what IS going to happen via dictat, without any reasonable discussion.
Roll on the next election next year (not long now Mr. Healey) when he will be REMOVED from power for sure along with the NL repressive machine in general, who are the WORST most AUTHORITARIAN government I have ever known in
my life. I used to think Mrs. Thatcher was bad, but it seems to me that she was a kind and gentle soul compared to you lot.
Now, file sharing is bad. Your proposals are WORSE however. As a software writer for 25 YEARS I have been a victim of that, and piracy many times. Every software program I have ever worked on has been shared on the net, or
(in the older days) on some bulletin board or other. As said LEGAL remedies exist already for piracy.
But certainly NO ONE should be disconnected from ANYTHING without CONVICTION in a COURT OF LAW after DUE PROCESS, and certainly not on the orders of people like the odious unelected Mandelson who seems to be trying to
somehow SHORT CIRCUIT our legal rights and protections to due process.
THIS MR. HEALEY IS WHAT IS UNACCEPTABLE ABOUT ALL THIS. It is a human rights violation for sure.
If disconnection is to be used as a tool to reduce piracy, it should be declared as an option for legal punishment in statute and imposed ONLY AFTER a court of law has PROPERLY decided that is the most appropriate sanction
in a particular case. Remember INNOCENT people in the family or workplace might well suffer too because of such impositions.
NOT TO MENTION that it is TOO EASY to hijack someone's WI-FI network even if it is protected, especially if one is using WEP keys, which can take just a few minutes to hack! There is LOADS of software and info online about
how this is done. Unfortunately WEP keys are in use in many locations (as in fact they are in our house) because some older wireless networking equipment simply doesn't support more advanced encryption. Some routers, such as the one issued by
SKY, have the default WPA2 keys and SSID values PRINTED ON A LABEL UNDERNEATH the router. So anyone in the house legally such as a tradesman, or neighbour can simply write the key down after looking at the underside of the device, and the whole
network is then theirs to command and use as they see fit.
But it seems these technical FACTS are a bit too complex an issue for the technically simple minded Mr Mandelson, who then would want to ignore such inconveniences, including those of DUE PROCESS. Not to mention that ISPs
often get it wrong, about the ownership of IP addresses at particular times when people are using dynamic ones, which can change several times a day in some cases. Not to mention some corporate business networks which funnel tens, hundreds, or
perhaps occasionally even thousands local IPs to one single public facing static IP, via DHCP services on routers. (These are 192.168.x.x type IP addresses, and only the PUBLIC IP is visible to the outside and appears to be one single computer to
it.) Sad that it may seem, the internet DID NOT evolve to suit the purposes of the likes of Mr. Mandelson, or media companies. It was created for academia, and the US military, inconvenient as this might be. His approach to this is completely
DISGRACEFUL Mr Healey.
I think you people are on a suicide mission to lose the next election.
Good idea I think.
Please read my email carefully Mr. Healey. After 25 years in the software business I know what I am talking about. Unlike the unelected Mr Mandelson.
Europe is set to get a major facelift of its telecommunications regulation after negotiators reached an agreement to pass a raft of new laws, addressing an array of topics from net neutrality to online piracy.
The negotiators, representing the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers compromised on aspects of the Telecoms Reform Package, which will now become part of national legislation in every EU country, with a
deadline of May 2011.
The Telecoms Reform Package had dragged on for six months because of the debate over a provision relative to the three strikes laws targeting Internet users suspected of unlawful file-sharing of copyrighted material. Under the newly minted
compromise, any decision to sever Internet access to clamp down on digital copying of music and movies must be subject to a legal review.
The promotion of legal offers, including across borders, should become a priority for policy-makers, said Viviane Reding, the EU Telecoms Commissioner: Three-strikes -laws, which could cut off Internet access without a prior fair and
impartial procedure or without effective and timely judicial review, will certainly not become part of European law.
With the piracy sanctions issue resolved, the European Parliament and Council of Ministers are expected this month to adopt the telecommunications package, which among other provisions will create a new EU telecommunications regulator, the Body
of European Regulators for Electronic Communications.
A vote is on the reforms is due by the end of the year.
The UK government will press ahead with plans to restrict internet access for illegal filesharers, it was confirmed in the Queen's Speech.
As expected, a Digital Economy Bill will aim to compel ISPs to penalise those persistently observed infringing copyright via peer-to-peer networks.
If the overall level of illegal filesharing, as assessed by Ofcom, does not fall by 70 per cent by April 2011 in response to a system of repeated warning letters, provisions in the Bill will be triggered that enforce technical measures .
The most persistent infringers will have their access suspended.
The UK government has offered up its Digital Economy Bill, which includes massive changes to copyright law, including the power of the government to effectively change the law at will with little to no oversight. Basically, it would let the
Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, change copyright law through secondary legislation, which requires no Parliamentary approval. As people are noting, Mandelson has had to resign from elected positions twice in the past in disgrace, and is now
in an unelected position. And he's the guy who gets to change copyright law at will? That does not seem right. On top of that, the bill doesn't even specify three strikes for users. Instead, it requires ISPs to notify users with warnings
-- and to notify copyright holders that they did notify users -- and if file sharing is not reduced by 70% in a year (with no indication of how this is measured), then the government will tell ISPs to start kicking people off the internet.
Furthermore, Minister for Digital Britain Stephen Timms, who introduced the new bill, claimed that 99% of ISPs are broadly supportive of the bill. That's funny because BT and TalkTalk -- two of the largest ISPs in the UK -- have loudly
complained about the plans (with TalkTalk threatening to sue, and BT saying that this solution is not the way forward ) and the ISP Association, which represents ISPs in the UK has loudly slammed the bill as unworkable and backwards
While many have been quick to criticise and deride the lack of specific information and targets in the recently announced Digital Economy Bill, it seems that the UK's games publishing community is amongst the first to wholeheartedly applaud the
government's latest moves.
While there are still doubts about whether the bill will survive a change in government, ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association) has voiced its approval of the Digital Economy Bill, as outlined in this week's Queen's
Speech, which it clearly sees to be a step in the right direction for gaming in the UK.
We are delighted with the commitment made today by the UK Government to tackle the widespread problem of online copyright infringement and intellectual property theft, through more effective legal action and consumer education, said Mike
Rawlinson, Director General of ELSPA.
Some of the biggest names on the web have written to Peter Mandelson to express grave concerns about elements of the Digital Economy Bill.
Facebook, Google, Yahoo and eBay object to a clause that they say could give government unprecedented and sweeping powers to amend copyright laws.
We urge you to remove Clause 17 from the bill, the letter read.
However, the government has said it believes the clause will future-proof online copyright laws .n The law must keep pace with technology, so that the Government can act if new ways of seriously infringing copyright develop in the
future, a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The consortium believe that if Clause 17, as it is known, is approved it will give any future Secretary of State the ability to amend copyright laws as they see fit. This power could be used, for example, to introduce additional
technical measures or increase monitoring of user data even where no illegal practice has taken place, the letter read. This would discourage innovation and impose unnecessary costs representatives of the firms wrote.
Others have suggested that the clause could be used to tweak laws so that search engines could not publish summaries of news stories in their results. The consortium of companies say the clause is so broad ranging that it could risk legitimate
consumer use of current technology as well as future developments .
While there is less will to penalize file-sharers in Spain, the same cannot be said about the sites that facilitate their downloading. New legislation is being mulled could allow them to be disconnected, without the need for a court order.
The new Sustainable Economy Law, sponsored by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, includes draft amendments to legislation to protect intellectual property against piracy on the Internet .
It is proposed that new grounds for disconnection will be added to safeguard intellectual property rights . This will hand competent bodies the authority to require Internet service providers to supply information on customers who
are deemed to be breaching copyright.
El Pais reports that there will not be an emphasis on disconnecting individual Internet users, but instead the focus will be on sites providing links to copyright works, of which there are several hundred in Spain.
In a statement, Spain's Minister for Culture, Ángeles González-Sinde, said that sites offering links to copyright works could be taken offline without a judicial order, an announcement which has met with firm opposition from
France's controversial three-strikes law aimed at taking down illegal downloaders appears to have suffered a delay while the government seeks mandatory approval of the law from an independent authority.
France needs an opinion from the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) to enact the law writes Paid Content. So far, CNIL has chosen not to issue a decree, reports La Tribune, thus effectively blocking the
implementation of the law, which was scheduled to be put into motion this month.
This could mean a delay of three months until the law, also known as the Hadopi Law, is enacted.
New Zealand introduces 3 strikes law into parliament
A New Zealand anti-piracy measure that includes a three-strikes plan of attack against copyright infringers has been introduced to Parliament.
The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill proposes an amendment to the Copyright Act of 1994 by repealing section 92A, which would have allowed the termination of infringer's ISP accounts with no court action.
The new legislation would require ISP's to provide three warnings to infringers before copyright holders are able to bring the matter before a Copyright Tribunal, which would have the power fine an infringer up to $15,000. Copyright owners will
also have the ability to request that a District Court terminate an infringer's ISP account for up to six months.
The bill's main backer, Commerce Minister Simon Power, said that the legislation … puts in place a fair and balanced process to deal with online copyright infringements occurring via file sharing. He added, It's important that account
holders are given a reasonable time to stop infringing before enforcement takes place.
Power hopes that the bill can be passed into law sometime this year.
The High Court in Dublin has given the go ahead for the music industry and ISP Eircom to implement a 3 strikes-style regime for suspected file-sharers. The private arrangement between the industry and the ISP had been held up over a legal
objection, but that has now been waved aside by a judge.
In February 2009, IRMA – which controls 90% of Ireland's recorded music and represents the labels EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner – reached a private agreement with Ireland's largest ISP, Eircom, which would see them implement a 3
strikes-style arrangement for dealing with alleged pirates.
A leaked documen provided background information on how the deal would operate: IRMA would supply IP addresses they believed to be connected with infringements to Eircom (collected by anti-piracy company, DtecNet) and the ISP would send warning
notices to its customers who were allocated those IP addresses at the time of the alleged illicit file-sharing. Any customer receiving a third warning would be served with a termination notice and disconnected by Eircom.
However, the implementation of this groundbreaking agreement had been held up by a legal objection surrounding the legal standing of an IP address. But at the High Court in Dublin, Mr. Justice Charleton gave his ruling on the case and decided
that an IP address is not personal data and gave the green light for the Eircom/IRMA 3 strikes arrangement to go ahead.
This announcement now paves the way for IRMA to go after other Irish ISPs to force them to implement the same type of arrangement.
New Zealand's Copyright (Infringement File Sharing) Amendment Bill, which allows for large fines and six month Internet suspensions, has just received its first reading in Parliament, to unanimous support.
Back in 2008 the New Zealand Government proposed the introduction of new law to combat illicit file-sharing. Section 92A was immediately the subject of protest from several corners which led the Government to go back to the drawing board.
Commerce Minister Simon Power later introduced The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill which replaced the earlier proposals with a modified regime to deal with illegal file sharing.
In common with efforts by the entertainment industries to change the law around the globe, the major feature of the Bill is a so-called 3 Strikes regime which will enable copyright owners to claim damages and make requests to the District
Court for infringers to be disconnected from the Internet for up to six months.
The Bill will extend the jurisdiction of the country's Copyright Tribunal, which will hear both sides – rightsholders and file-sharers – and will be empowered to rule on cases of alleged infringement.
The Bill has now been referred to the Commerce Select Committee and will report back to Parliament in six months.
Following pressure from the US Government, Canada is preparing to ram through a revamped copyright bill that will have disastrous consequences for consumers.
In 2008, Canadian lawmakers proposed a new anti-piracy bill dubbed C-61. The plans met great opposition from the public and were eventually wiped from the table later that year prior to the federal elections. Last year, the Government decided to
consult the public on what they would want from a new copyright bill.
In that consultation the public made it clear that stricter copyright laws are not welcome. However, it seems that this has had very little effect as Canada's Prime Minister is about to announce a new , even more draconian law. Michael
Geist, prof. E-commerce Law in Ottawa, described the bill as the most anti-consumer copyright bill in Canadian history.
The effects of a draconian copyright bill in Canada can be far reaching. Things Canadians take for granted, like copying your music from your computer to your music player and vice versa, can be deemed illegal with this new bill, Gary Fung
of IsoHunt told TorrentFreak.
ISPs can be forced to handover private information of users on a whim without due process. They may be further encouraged to throttle P2P traffic, even for entirely legitimate uses like game files distribution. The new bill also is unlikely to
provide fair exceptions for breaking DRM for purposes that doesn't violate copyright, which unfairly prohibits one's tinkering with electronics he owns, Gary added.
Gary's warnings are justified. Although it is not completely clear what the details of the new bill will be, it is expected that it will be the Canadian equivalent of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This means that copyright takedown
request become a censorship tool while consumers lose several fair use rights.
Four of the world's largest record companies have failed in an attempt to get the three strikes rule enforced against illegal filesharers in Ireland.
Warner Music, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and EMI brought the case against UPC, one of Ireland's largest broadband providers, in order to establish a legal precedent that would force internet service providers to cut off illegal filesharers'
But the Irish high court ruled that laws to identify and cut off internet users were not enforceable in Ireland.
In a judgment published today, Justice Peter Charleton said that laws were not in place to block the internet connections of those accused of sharing copyrighted content. However, he acknowledged that the creative industries are being blighted by
This not only undermines their [the creative industries] business but ruins the ability of a generation of creative people in Ireland, and elsewhere, to establish a viable living . It is destructive of an important native industry.
New Zealand's Parliament has voted into law new sanctions against those who share files over the Internet.
The new three strikes piracy law, which passed 111-11, allows copyright owners to send evidence of alleged infringements to ISPs, who will then send up to three infringement notices to account holders.
If the warnings are ignored, the copyright owner can take a claim to New Zealand's Copyright Tribunal, where the panel can set judgments up to US$11,733 against each account holder.
Another provision in the law allows copyright holders to eventually apply through a court to have alleged repeat offenders' connections suspended for six months, with or without a conviction or proof.
The bill, the National Government's compromise solution to the controversial Section 92A illegal file sharing legislation in 2009is called the Government's Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill.
The legislation was supported by all New Zealand political parties except the Greens and independent members of Parliament Chris Carter and Hone Harawira.
Reaction against the law has been waged by various groups, including one called Opposing The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing)
Opponents argued the law means Internet surfers could be disconnected without sufficient proof of charges and that it might unfairly punish businesses or families when the downloading was done without their knowledge by an employee or family
member or by someone hacking into their connection.
The Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Council has denounced three strikes laws that would cut off Internet users as a penalty for copyright infringement. The advice comes in a Report to the UN General Assembly on the
Protection and Promotion of Freedom of Opinion and Expression.
While blocking and filtering measures deny users access to specific content on the Internet, States have also taken measures to cut off access to the Internet entirely. The Special Rapporteur considers cutting off users from Internet access,
regardless of the justification provided, including on the grounds of violating intellectual property rights law, to be disproportionate and thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Special Rapporteur calls upon all States to ensure that Internet access is maintained at all times, including during times of political unrest. In particular, the Special Rapporteur urges States to repeal or amend existing intellectual
copyright laws which permit users to be disconnected from Internet access, and to refrain from adopting such laws.
The Special Rapporteur also acknowledged the importance of protecting Internet intermediaries from liability in order to protect human rights. Internet intermediaries should only act to limit the rights of their customers following a legitimate
Following last year's failed High Court bid to force an ISP to adopt a 3 strikes-style regime to deal with pirates, the Big Four record labels are set to get their way through a change in the law. If adopted, proposals published by the Irish
government would allow copyright holders to hold ISPs liable for infringements and take out injunctions against them.
The High Court said that laws to cut off file-sharers were not enforceable in Ireland.
It is not surprising that the legislative response laid down in our country in the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, at a time when this problem was not perceived to be as threatening to the creative and retail economy as it has become in
2010, has made no proper provision for the blocking, diverting or interrupting of internet communications intent on breaching copyright, the judge said in his judgment.
By not having this legislative mechanism in place, Justice Charleton said that Ireland is not in compliance with its obligations under European law. The only thing the courts can force an Internet host to carry out, he said, is the removal of
Now, through its Consultation on Amendment to Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000, the Irish government is taking steps to change legislation to close this apparent loophole.
It must be emphasised that this proposed amendment is not about the introduction of a statutory regulatory regime in relation to copyright infringement such as the French 'Hadopi' system or the 'Three strikes' regime set out in the Digital
Economy Act in the United Kingdom, notes the proposal.
Nevertheless, while they do not implement a statutory regime, adoption of the proposals could yield a similar result.
The proposals are open for public consultation with a closing date of July 1st, just over a week away.
France and New Zealand have already signed this three-strikes approach into law, and a recent proposal from the Italian government shows that they are considering doing the same. However, unlike we've seen thus far, the Italian plan is not
exactly the graduated response that other countries have adopted.
One of the most worrying changes for the public is that Internet providers have to disconnect subscribers upon receiving a single infringement notice. The legitimacy of the notification is not verified and the appeal options appear to be limited.
In addition, the proposal also allows interested parties who are not the copyright holder to file complaints. To prevent pirates from sneaking back online, ISPs are further required to keep a blacklist of all copyright offenders.
The one-strike disconnection proposal and the backlist are obviously worrying for Italian consumers, but the draft legislation also targets online service providers. For instance, the proposal specifically requires ISPs to censor content deemed
to be copyright infringing. If they fail to do so, they face both civil and criminal liability.
In addition, all companies that provide services or sell goods online would have to actively prevent direct or indirect copyright infringement. This could spell trouble for Google, which refers users to a lot of copyrighted material through its
search engine and hosts this content on YouTube. Also, it would require companies like eBay to check if users own the copyrights to the goods they sell online.
The record industry in July will start sending ISPs offending IP addresses for graduated responses in piracy cases.
Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, said most of the participating ISPs are on track to begin implementing the program by July 1. The ISPs that have joined up with the RIAA are Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon,
AT&T, Cablevision and Comcast.
The program requires that ISPs send out one or two educational notices to those customers who are accused of downloading copyrighted content illegally. If the customer doesn't put a halt to the practice, the ISP is then asked to send out
confirmation notices asking that they confirm they have received notice.
Legal expert Doug Lichtman, a UCLA law professor spoke to an adult industry seminar about these copyright alerts. Calling them warm 'nastygrams,' Lichtman told the adult industry that they should adopt the system, and that file
sharers could be persuaded to be come paying consumers.
In a few months millions of BitTorrent users in the United States will be actively monitored as part of an agreement between the MPAA, RIAA and all the major ISPs. Those caught sharing copyright works will receive several warning messages and
will be punished if they continue to infringe.
Starting this summer, the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) will start to track down pirates as part of an agreement with all major U.S. Internet providers.
Last year the parties agreed on a system through which copyright infringers are warned that their behavior is unacceptable. After six warnings ISPs may then take a variety of repressive measures, which includes slowing down the offender's
connection and temporary disconnections.
The new plan was announced under the name Copyright Alerts last year and will be implemented by all parties by July 12, 2012. As this deadline nears, the CCI today unveiled several key players who are going to lead the group.
Unsurprisingly, the Executive Board is exclusively made up of representatives from the RIAA, MPAA and the ISPs. There is no representation for internet users or consumer rights.
However, the no doubt powerless, Advisory Board does include public rights advocates including Jerry Berman, the Chairman of the Internet Education Foundation and founder of the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Gigi Sohn, co-founder of
The French government is counting the costs of taking over copyright enforcement from the private sector..
Hadopi, the body charged with hunting down copyright infringers under France's three-strikes law, has sent a million warning e-mails and 99,000 registered letters. This has only resulted in a scant 134 cases being examined for prosecution, and so
far, zero cases have led to disconnection.
At a reported cost of 12 million Euros covering 60 employees, the whole exercise has been described as unwieldy, uneconomic and ultimately ineffective and a failure by the French culture minister Aure'lie Filippetti. It would appear that
the agency is now standing on the trap-door in the minister's office, waiting for someone to pull the lever.
Filippetti told Le Nouvel Observateur that Hadopi had also failed to foster legal content to replace illegal downloads.
The French government has now launched a consultation to re-examine Internet piracy.
For years entertainment companies have put huge efforts into campaigns to inflict so-called three strikes campaigns on errant Internet users who download music and movies for free. The ultimate sanction of disconnection has always been
touted as necessary in order for people to take things seriously but over in France, a country that pioneered graduated response, it seems that the music biz now wants to ditch disconnections in favor of fines.
After more than five years of lobbying this ultimate punishment was built into the French Hadopi scheme but despite the issuing of more than a million warnings, people just aren't being disconnected. Not only is the measure unpopular and open to
challenge, just last summer Culture Minister Aure'lie Filippetti described account suspension as a disproportionate sanction against the end goal.
So, with the disconnection option now pretty much dead in France, what could replace it as a deterrent? Getting hit in the pocket, it seems.
UPFI, (Union of Independent Phonographic Producers), said that it agreed with the opinion of French music rights group SACEM that a disconnection regime should be replaced with warnings along with fines of 140 euros.
In fact the French website Numerama have been told by sources familiar with the matter that it has already been 99% decided a new law will replace the internet suspension sanction with administrative fines (which means they would not be issued by
a court after due process, but issued automatically by an administrative body). Numerama editor Guillaume Champeau told TorrentFreak:
Discussions remain as to how to set the thing up in the law ; the automatic fine system could be handled by a dedicated administrative authority, such as the current Hadopi's Rights Protection Committee; or by the Superior Audiovisual Concil,
which is the current administrative body for television and radio.
The new law will be debated in Parliament in early 2013.