Tough anti-piracy laws in Denmark have notably caused some serious problems for The Pirate Bay, as ISPs there were forced to block the world’s largest tracker. The law allows outfits such as IFPI to shut down sites with relative ease but this imbalance towards rights holders will be addressed in a new report due soon.
While in most countries the IFPI needs to pressure governments or ISPs in order to close Internet connections used for piracy, in Denmark laws may already allow it. Recently Clement Salung Petersen Ph.D, an assistant professor from the Center for Corporate Responsibility at the University of Copenhagen noted that Danish legislation is very much biased towards the rights holders. By contrast, Internet users and website operators receive a pretty raw deal.
“It must be assumed that it is already in accordance with current Danish law that in principle it is possible to close an Internet connection that has been used to infringe copyrights,” says Peterson. “But the law does not take into account the very significant conflicting interests that will prevail in such a case,” he added.
The problem is the unbalanced approach to a potential disconnection. In Denmark an Internet user’s interests are not considered when making a decision to close a site or connection – they are not even involved in the process and therefore have no opportunity to defend themselves. Furthermore, should a connection or site be closed in error, there is little chance for claiming compensation. “It’s obvious that this runs counter to some basic legal principles,” says Petersen.
One of the problems lies in the way the Danes implemented the EU 2001 ‘Infosoc directive‘, which differs greatly from the manner in which other EU countries have handled it. Under Danish law, ISPs can be made responsible for the copyright violations of their subscribers, which is why ISPs can shut down a customers Internet connection or close a website so easily.
Now, according to Comon.dk, in the latest draft report from the Ministry of Culture Conference on piracy, having previously ignored the problems the Danish government has now included the concerns of Professor Petersen, as it tries to decide whether or not to introduce new legislation against users who share copyright material on the Internet.
The draft is also set to look at some of the demands being put forward by the IFPI and other similar groups, including their 3 strikes initiative. Another IFPI proposal is that individuals should be made responsible for whatever happens on their Internet connection, whether they carried out any infringements or not. This suggestion was put forward after legal action by IFPI against two women failed last year, with the pair successfully arguing a ‘wireless defense’. The women said they had no knowledge of the alleged infringements and therefore shouldn’t have to pay any damages. The court agreed and acquitted them of all charges.
To avoid this type of outcome in future cases, the IFPI wants to change the burden of proof so that instead of the rights holder having to prove that an individual engaged in piracy, it is up to the individual to prove that he didn’t and that the responsibility for infringement lies with a 3rd party.
The final version of the report will be published in the spring.