Copyright Monopoly Enforcement Gets To Trump Human Rights, Yet Again

Opinion

Australia's administration has introduced a Data Retention bill, learning nothing from the court rulings that declare the practice to be in violation of fundamental rights. They plan to log everybody's correspondence and movements - with the idea of using that data to enforce the copyright monopoly.

copyright-brandedOn December 14, 2005, the European Parliament approved legislation that was more Stasiesque than anything previously imagined.

Citizens would have every piece of communications logged for a minimum for six months, including from where it was made, so that this could be used against the citizens if need be. Who people talked to, how, from where, and when. In effect, since your mobile phone communicated more or less all the time, every footstep you took through a European city was not only monitored, but recorded for the specific purpose of using it against you.

The legislation – the Data Retention Directive – caused an outrage, and rightly so. But the gears of justice turn slowly. On April 8, 2014 – almost ten years later – the European Court of Justice – the highest court in Europe – ruled that the legislation violated a number of fundamental citizen rights, including the presumption of innocence, protection of personal data, and the right to privacy. It didn’t just declare the horrible law invalid from that point on – the European Court of Justice ruled that the law had never even existed.

It should come as no surprise that the copyright industry was one of the primary pushers for this legislation. In combination with the typical over-implementation of the IPRED directive, which would give the copyright industry police-like powers to demand logs from Internet Service Providers. They would use this power to find people who had violated their distribution monopolies in sharing knowledge and culture among each other. This two-pronged approach would allow the copyright industry to act as a private police force: force ISPs to save logs of all correspondence, and get the legal right to demand it (a right even the Police didn’t have for crimes at that petty level).

The copyright industry has never cared for human rights. Every single debate you go to, they talk about “balancing” fundamental rights against their right to profit. It is not just audacious, it is revolting. First, there is no right to profit for a commercial enterprise, and second, the reason we call the fundamental rights “fundamental” in the first place is that nothing gets to be “balanced” against them.

These are rights on the same level as the right to life. Yes, they’re that fundamental. And the copyright industry cares that little.

This week, about ten years late, Australia introduced Data Retention of the same model. Or at least that’s what most people think. The bill has been introduced, and yet it hasn’t, because nobody is allowed to read the details of what data is actually required to be retained in the bill yet. (Raise your hand if you’ve heard this kind of story before – an administration playing hide-and-seek with legislative details.)

And just as unsurprisingly, the first thing that pops up as purpose for this violatory legislation is copyright monopoly enforcement.

Violating fundamental human rights wholesale for entire countries at a time, with the idea of enforcing an entertainment distribution monopoly for a cartoon industry. It’s so disproportionate it wouldn’t even be funny in a cartoon; it’s so out of touch with reality that we’ve even left the Onionesque.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

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