Back in February we reported on the IFPI forcing, via the Danish courts, an ISP to block its subscribers from accessing The Pirate Bay. This case was the third occasion where an industry lobby group had flexed its muscles to block a website, a similar measure was used to block allofmp3.com and mp3sparks.com. However, the legality of these actions under European law, specifically the Infosoc directive, is dubious at best.
Nevertheless, two of the largest opposition parties in Danish parliament think it is a good idea , despite the ineffectiveness of the block , to streamline the process, making it quicker and easier to do. A proposal (Danish) before the government seems to create a tribunal to handle these cases.
Whereas in the past cases have involved a rights holder suing an ISP and forcing a block through the courts, this proposal creates a tribunal to do it instead. This tribunal will apparently consist of members appointed by government ministers, who will then rule on blocks with no judicial oversight. Any sites blocked would have to go through the courts to appeal and the site would remain blocked unless and until successful.
If that was not bad enough, there is also talk of a secretariat that would handle ‘simple’ cases, so the appointed tribunal would not even have to hear the majority of cases. Cases would be put to the tribunal by copyright holders that feel they have had their rights infringed by the target site. As with the court cases, though, it’s extremely unlikely that the accused site will be invited or even made aware of any such proceedings, and allowed to state their case.
“This is a wet dream for organizations like IFPI,” is the view of Ole Husgaard, chairman of the Danish Pirate Party. “This isn’t even a law proposal, so there is not all the work usually done in our parliament when passing laws; this can be passed in a month or two. If it is, I would guess that we will have at least 2000 sites on the blocking list within 12 months – without a single court case having been decided, if any get started at all.”
He’s not alone in his pessimism. “It’s blatant censorship of course.” is the opinion of The Pirate Bay’s brokep. “It’s not in the interest of the citizens, so I hope the government understands that if they go against the people like that, they should be replaced. It is also not a huge step before they start censoring other stuff – let’s say political parties that have thoughts about changing the current government.”
As analysis of the Pirate Bay block has found it contrary to EU laws, it’s curious as to the motivation behind this proposal. The only rational one would be bribery , either legal or not , and so the question we are forced to ask is, are Danish politicians cheaper to buy than those in New York?