Intellectual Property Enforcement
According to the Swedish e-zine The Local, the Swedish Data Inspection Board now allows the Swedish anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån and the record industry group IFPI to collect the IP addresses of file-sharers.
In an earlier ruling EDRI-gram reported about, the Swedish Data Protection Authority said APB and IFPI broke privacy laws, because they were collecting personal information without permission. Only government authorities were allowed to create registers of criminal offences. The DPA now grants the organisations an exception from the law. APB and IFPI maintain they do not keep extensive personal files, but just pass on the IP addresses to providers or to the police.
From the rulings it seems the anti-piracy group collected the IP addresses itself, with a computer program. In the Netherlands and in Ireland,
Only twenty minutes were needed in the Spanish court of Seville in order to acquit the Spanish game programmer who was facing up to one year in prison for making a video-game that made fun of religious practices (see EDRI-Gram 3.19). After showing repent, and stating that his intention was not really to offend anyone, the judge decided to acquit him.
The case generated considerable interest outside of Spain. Up to Japan people created mirrors to download the game.
EDRI-gram 3.19, Spanish gaming programmer faces prison sentence
(Contribution by David Casacuberta, EDRI-member CPSR-Spain)
Apart from important budget/audit matters, there were three substantive issues discussed at the 2005 WIPO General Assemblies. The last few days were spent in closed "informal" sessions to hammer out agreements. All agreements were formally adopted by WIPO member states on 5 October 2005. With the report EDRI was also adopted as accredited observer to all the WIPO meetings.
1. How to proceed with discussions on a development agenda for WIPO.
A new committee, known as the Provisional Committee, will take charge of completing discussions on the outstanding proposals relating to a WIPO Development Agenda. The Committee will have two one-week sessions and will report to the General Assembly in September 2006. The deadline for submission of any new proposals shall be the first day of the first session of the Committee.
EDRI-member FIPR (the Foundation for Information Policy Research) has published a strong analysis of the proposed new EU intellectual property enforcement directive. According to FIPR, the proposed new directive is pushed by the UK Presidency, but will undermine basic freedoms. It will force all EU member states to criminalise incitement to infringe patents or copyrights. The directive is promoted by big drug companies and the music industry.
FIPR writes: "If passed, the police will have more powers against copyright infringers than they have against terrorists. At present, the EU cannot freeze assets if a suspected terrorist financier is a European citizen. Yet the Government wants to empower IP lawyers to seize the assets of EU citizens accused of aiding and abetting infringement -- such as the parents of children who might have downloaded music files."
On 1 August 2005 the Irish Minister for Trade and Commerce, Mr. Michael Ahern, announced a package of new IP legislation to be presented to parliament before the end of the year. Ireland needs to bring the public lending right and the artists' resale right into conformity with EU legislation and will simultaneously implement the new EU Directive on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice. The enforcement directive (2004/48/EC) has to be implemented before the end of April 2006.
On the website of the ministry, the Minister acknowledges that the new implementation of the EU Rental and Lending Directive is caused by the Commission proceedings against Ireland in the European Court of Justice. Ireland exempted all public libraries from a remuneration scheme for lending, "referring to our small lending pool, the expected modest benefits for authors in relation to collection costs, and our long-standing efforts to encourage greater use of public libraries."
On 27 January 2005 the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled on old case; the existence of the website napster.no, which Norwegian internet users could use in 2001 to find music files (not more than 170 in practice) on the Napster file-sharing system. The owner of the site is found guilty of accessory copyright infringement, for having contributed to make the copyright protected music files available to the public.
The Court states that it is beyond doubt that making a web-address known on a website does not constitute a 'making available to the public', regardless of whether or not the link refers to a web-address containing legally or illegally published material. Whether a web-address is expressed on the Internet or in a newspaper is immaterial.
If linking were to be considered as the 'making available to the public', the Court writes, every link, be it to legally or illegally published copyright protected material would require prior authorisation from the rightholder. This was exactly what the music industry claimed. But the court said this was too complicated a reasoning and therefore decided to only look at accessory liability.
The Spanish government has issued a press release announcing a new draft Intellectual Property law. The law aims to adopt the existing copyright and intellectual property rights to the context of IT and implement the European Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC).
The main changes are:
1. The right to "interactive disposition" which regulates the way authors offer their works on the Internet. 2. Libraries can present their contents in telematic media as long as they remain within a closed intranet. 3. Quotes of both text and audiovisual material are allowed as long as its main use is teaching/ research. It is legal to quote press and journals as long as there are no economic benefits from such quotes. If the quote serves a commercial purpose, previous authorisation from the owner is necessary.
While the Irish High Court set a precedent on 9 July by ordering two ISPs to hand-over the name and address data of 17 file-sharers, a few days later a Dutch judge forbade the hand-over of contact details of 41 customers. In both cases the music industry used the services of the US-based company MediaSentry.
The Irish High Court allowed for the demand from the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) on behalf of record majors. The ruling is not available online yet, but the Irish Times reports the judge "noted an undertaking by the record companies that the information would be used only for the purpose of seeking redress for alleged infringement of the copyright of sound recordings and granted the order on that basis." The Irish Times also reports that the judge was not impressed by BT's policy to immediately forward any complaints to their customers, with a demand to desist any future activity. Such a policy couldn't 'deprive the plaintiffs of their entitlement to seek damages'. It is expected that IRMA will now write to the 17 individuals accusing the recipient of illegally sharing music using the internet, seeking damages of up to 6.000 euro from each person for breaching copyright law and threatening legal action against anyone who refuses to pay.