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Opposition Mounts in Europe to Three-Strikes Proposals

Michael Geist

Multiple reports today indicate that opposition is growing in Europe to plans for three-strikes policies that could lead to the termination of Internet access for some subscribers. In the U.K., protests are mounting over those plans in the recently introduced Digital Economy Bill. The BBC reports that thousands of people have signed a petition urging the government to reconsider its approach, while the Open Rights Group says it has seen a big spike in membership. The UK's Internet Service Provider Association has unsurprisingly voiced its opposition, stating "rather than focusing blindly on enforcement, the government should be asking rights holders to reform the licensing framework so that legal content can be distributed online to consumers in a way that they are clearly demanding." The Telegraph reports popular author Stephen Fry has lent his support to opposing the bill, vowing to urge people to sign the petition until a million people have signed on.

Meanwhile, European Union Telecom Commissioner Vivianne Reding has warned Spain against adopting a three-strikes model without a procedure before a judge. Reding added:

"The new internet freedom provision now provides that any measures taken regarding access to and use of services and applications must always respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. Effective and timely judicial review is as much guaranteed as a prior, fair and impartial procedure, the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy. We need to find new, more modern and more effective ways in Europe to protect intellectual property and artistic creation. Repression alone will certainly not solve the problem of internet piracy; it may in many ways even run counter to the rights and freedoms which are part of Europe's values since the French Revolution."

The Spanish telecommunications industry is reportedly puzzled by the comments since the Spanish government has made it clear it does not plan to adopt a three-strikes approach. Reding's comments — along with the protests in the UK — provide an important reminder that three-strikes remains highly controversial and is opposed by thousands of people as well as leading politicians.

By Michael Geist, Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law. More blog posts from Michael Geist can also be read here.

Related topics: Access Providers, Broadband, Law, P2P, Policy & Regulation, Telecom

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Comments

A New World deserves new laws Alessandro Vesely  –  Nov 29, 2009 11:26 PM PST

People who buy books or disks feel like paying for the supporting media rather than its content, even if they are perfectly aware that paper and vinyl cost much less than that. They pay for buying something, not thin air. While selling downloadable copies at about the same price of hard ones is questionable, DRM enforcement is "stupid and thoughtless", as Amazon apologized.

Put simply, the digital world is yet another new world. Just like UK laws didn't work for Americans then, they are not going to work for digital subscribers now. Pirates claim legal status, and I'm wondering how a digital Tea Party looks like.

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