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Internet Trials

The policy debate doesn't always happen within the official policy fora such as  European Commission consultations, or European Parliament committees. Especially when it comes to the Internet and online content. Certain interest groups  take it into other venues. The courts are being called on the interpret the law, and the caselaw is used by courts all around Europe in the context of their judgments.   This section looks at instances of legal action against Internet providers by private interest groups, or actions by Member States who are implementing laws and initiatives. Iptegrity's concern, as ever, is the protection of the open Internet and free speech. In the courts, this will be addressed in the context of the right to freedom of expression or privacy.


If you are interested in copyright caselaw  you may like my book The Closing of the Net which discusses the UK copyright blocking judgments and the Megaupload case in New Zealand.

 

If you are interested in copyright policy, you may like my previous books A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms and The Copyright Enforcement Enigma - Internet Politics and the ‘Telecoms Package’

The overblocking of Wikipedia because of one image on the IWF database, serves as a timely warning against more widespread filtering.

Filters put in place by UK ISPs to comply with a blacklist of child pornography websites have resulted in widespread blocking of the Wikipedia. In some cases, UK users cannot edit Wikipedia pages, in others it seems they cannot view it at all. The intended target of the block is a single image of an album cover from a German rock band called the Scorpions, which is hosted on some Wikipedia pages.  The over-blocking of Wikipedia  affects O2,  Virgin Media, Sky/Easynet, Plusnet, Demon, and TalkTalk.

When I checked it – I am on Demon Internet – I get a notice telling me

Read more: UK ISPS lock out Wikipedia in filtering error

A Belgian  court has agreed with an Internet service provider that filtering content by scanning packets against a database of songs from the company 'Audible Magic' is impossible.

 

The case concerns the ISP Scarlet, which was being sued by the Belgian collecting society Sabam. Last year, the judge had ordered Scarlet, a small ISP, to implement filtering so that copyrighted music content would be identified and downloads prevented. Sabam had brought in the US company Audible Magic and claimed that its technology would work in this context, especially to deal with peer-to-peer downloading. Under the decision, which was handed down on 20 October, the judge has now agreed with Scarlet, that implementation of this kind of filtering is impossible. Scarlet has been released from an obligation to pay fees to Sabam. A further hearing has been scheduled for October next year.

The decision is significant in light of the political discussions within the EU on filtering, and the attempts to weaken provisions in the Telecoms Package to enable filtering ( I will be writing more on this soon.)  It's interesting to note that Sabam was backed by IFPI,  the  recording industry association which is backing other law suits in Europe, including the Eircom case in Ireland and the case against the Pirate Bay in Italy. 

Update: I've now had sight of the court decision. Audible Magic withdrew in April this year, because they could not make their technology work on Scarlet's network, due to an incompatibility in the technology. Scarlet has been asked to look at other filtering technologies. Incredibly, it received a quote of 900,000 Euro from Allot, for a deep packet inspection system that would  'control' peer-to-peer traffic for15,000 users. It it a little hard to understand why the court would insist that it pursues this line, given that these kind of costs must represent a significant percentage of its revenue.

The Pirate Bay has won a reversal of an Italian court ruling which had ordered all Italian ISPs to block access to the site. According to a report in the French newspaper Liberation, the decision was announced on  25th September 2008, by the same court in Bergamo which made the original ruling. The court has apparently decided that the block was unlawful, and it has been lifted. No more details are yet known, but the issues appear to be jurisdiction and whether or not there was contributory infringement on the part of the Pirate Bay. It is understood that the new ruling  will be looked at by a Tribunal of three judges. 

 As previously reported by iptegrity.com, the original ruling had meant that  Italian Internet users who attempted to access the Pirate Bay, were re-directed to a police notice, hosted on a UK server from Reactive Networks, the same hosting company as used by IFPI . The Italian law suit was filed by an IFPI-affiliated anti-piracy organisation. The Pirate Bay had decided in August to appeal against the ruling. 

It is reported that Pirate Bay traffic increased from Italy as a result of the block.  

 The story is also reported on Torrent Freak.  

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States v the 'Net? 

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

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Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. She is a policy analyst specialising in Internet governance & European policy, including platform accountability. She is a published author & Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on  Internet Freedom. She has worked on CoE, EU and UNDP funded projects in eastern Europe and the Caucasus. In a voluntary capacity, she has led UK citizen delegations to the European Parliament. She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012.

Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy (and related issues on Brexit). Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity

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The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review