Tag Archives: Net Freedom
Last month CIMA looked at the SOPA bill and how it compared to similar laws in France, Spain, Italy, and Denmark. Since then, several other pieces of legislation have passed or are being considered, most notably the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). In recent days protests have broken out across Europe against ACTA.
ACTA is a multi-national treaty that aims to combat counterfeit goods and copyright infringement. The agreement was signed by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States in October 2011, and the European Union signed it in January 2012, but several member states have refused to ratify it, including Germany, the Netherlands, and Bulgaria. ACTA has been criticized by several net freedom groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which says, “ACTA is the new frontline in the global IP enforcement agenda.”
CANADA: Bill C-11, titled the Copyright Modernization Act, is currently under consideration in Canada’s House of Commons. The bill would provide incentives for ISPs to block users who infringe on copyrights more than once and could target sites that are not pirate sites but could be used for piracy.
IRELAND: Minister of State for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock has stated that he intends to enact a law without a vote in the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament) that would curtail access to websites and give power to the courts to grant orders against ISPs. Over 80,000 people have signed a petition in protest. Nicknamed “Ireland’s SOPA,” the announcement brought attacks by Anonymous to Irish government websites.
NETHERLANDS: The Dutch government announced plans to target ISPs that give access to file-sharing websites like Pirate Bay. The proposed law would target websites but does not criminalize those who download copyrighted material.
UNITED KINGDOM: The UK’s Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) shut down the file-sharing website RnBXclusive.com this week. This warning was posted on the site:
Wikipedia, Reddit, and hundreds of other websites are dark today. Google has blacked out its logo. These steps are in opposition to the controversial bills SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) that stand before the United States Congress. Facebook and other social networking sites also have stated their opposition to the bills.
What are SOPA and PIPA? SOPA is the House of Representatives version of an online piracy bill, and PIPA is the Senate version. Both bills allow intellectual property owners to shut down foreign websites for copyright infringement. The offended party could demand these sites be removed from search engines, denied payments from sites like Paypal, or block ISPs from allowing visitors to the sites.
Take a close look at SOPA. How does it compare to similar ideas in other countries? A few examples:
SPAIN–This month, Spain passed the Sinde law giving the Spanish government broad authority to impose strict penalties on website owners who have copyrighted material on their websites. Unlike SOPA, the law, which is named after Culture Minister Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde, targets only those who make money from copyrighted content. Copyright owners can complain to a government commission that can issue and order to block the website.
FRANCE–France passed the HADOPI law in 2009. Known as the “Three Strikes Piracy Law,” HADOPI cuts off internet access to users who have three violations of piracy in defiance of a European Parliament law specifically outlawing cutting off the internet without a court order. The legislation created the Haute Autorite pour la Diffusion des Oeuvres et la Protection des droits sur Internet (High Authority for the Diffusion of Works and the Protection of Rights on the Internet) that has the power to send an email warning at the first violation, followed by a mailed letter. The third violation can lead to an interruption of Internet access for up to a year.
ITALY–The Supreme Court approved a verdict by a lower court that allowed ISPs to block The Pirate Bay website, a site that has seen numerous attempts by governments across the globe to block. In October 2011 the Italian government proposed a “wiretapping” bill that would give anyone who thinks he has been offended by content to challenge the website in question. Wikipedia Italy responded in protest by going blank.
DENMARK–Several court rulings have blocked access to sites accused of copyright infringement. These include the Pirate Bay and Allofmp3.com. In the Allofmp3.com case, the court ruled that ISPs are responsible for the traffic they route.
The United Nations Public Administration Network has a good summary of Internet censorship developments in 2011.