Will Germany cut off Internet users without a court ruling?
A German MP is in a hurry to make his name by tabling a copyright enforcment law before Christmas. The law will be a variant on the graduated response – 3-strikes – model, where Internet users are sent warnings after which their Internet access will be cut off. Only it is missing the second ‘strike’ so German activists are calling it a 2-strikes law. The proposal is that
users who are alleged to have infringed copyright will be sent a warning notice; if they receive a second allegation, they will be immediately cut off the Internet, by their broadband provider - without a court order.
The German MP - Siegfried Kauder from Angela Merkel’s CDU party – announced his intention at a rights-holder event last week. Herr Kauder is a member of the Legal committee in the German Parliament. He is quoted as saying that he will draft the law with a statutory three-week cut-off.
He is reported as saying that this will be brought in as a “small law” - at which point one has to ask whether he has any idea what Pandora’s box he is opening?
According to Netzpolitik, the German coalition agreement states that “we will not consider any legislative initiative involving Internet restrictions for copyright protection”. Netzpolitik’s Markus Beckedahl asks cynically whether they will get around this by trying to get a private (non-legislative) agreement.
Well, maybe if the Germans took a good look at the British attempts to get agreements between ISPs and rights-holders, they would ditch that idea very quickly. Even after the law has been passed, the British system , fast setting up a multi-layered copyright enforcement bureaucracy, is plainly unworkable. The rights-holders know that, which may be why the German rights-holders are presenting Herr Kauder with a proposal that slams down the cut-off and tries to avoid any agreement!
The other obvious issue with Herr Kauder’s proposal is that it so plainly violates European law. Article 1.3a of the Telecoms Package is quite specific that cutting users off the Internet for copyright enforcement purposes, must not happen without a prior, fair and impartial hearing. Rights under the European Convention of human rights, must be guaranteed by the German State. Naughty, naughty, Herr Kauder!
Sources for this article:
To learn more about article 1.3a in the Telecoms Package, see my book The Copyright Enforcement Enigma: Internet Politics and the 'Telecoms Package'
Please attribute this article: Monica Horten (2011) German MP wants 2 strikes before Xmas http://www.iptegrity.com 27 September 2011 .