Letters from the ISP front

"They are getting closer, I can hear their lawsuits at night"

Anyone who has been paying attention to the War on Piracy will have noticed that the emphasis has shifted from the user to the internet service provider.  As content owners discovered that attempts to enforce their rights against users backfired and/or had no noticeable effect, they began returning to the strategy of trying to make the service providers liable for the infringement committed by their customers.

The first barrage in the war took place when content owners managed to get Irish ISP Eircom to promise that it would disconnect repeat offenders.  Then an Australian copyright conglomerate (representing several U.S. content giants) sued iiNet for copyright infringement incurred by its customers, and we should get a ruling next week.

These lawsuits however are only a small part of the global strategy.  As it has been repeatedly posted here and elsewhere, the end-game for the content providers is of course to make ISPs liable through the inclusion of three-strikes clauses into copyright law.  New Zealand and France have attempted to do just that with mixed results, and in the UK we are currently experiencing a similar threat through the Digital Economy Bill.  But it is in ACTA where the final battle will take place.  The inclusion of three-strikes provisions in a wide-ranging bilateral agreement between some of the most developed countries in the world will almost undoubtedly spell the end of intermediary indemnity, and more importantly, it might well spell the end of ISPs as we know them.

Update: And to complicate things even more, Virgin Media says that it will use deep-packet inspection software to monitor potential infringing material.

Comments 4

  1. The E-commerce directive was a big step towards intermediary immunity for third party contents. We are now going a big step backward by making ISPs the judge and the jury of a complex matter: the online copyright protection.

    The ACTA secret negotiations represent a serious threat to democracy and privacy. As discussed by the scholar Paul Ohm, ISPs are business model is in danger, they need money and the Deep Packet Inspection that will be legally implied will in my view, give them the perfect excuse to digg dipp users' privacy.

    See more on the subject and the position taken by the UK ISP TalkTalk on the cost of the Three Strikes Bill: http://clarinettesblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/why-s

  2. You might be interested to know that the Irish Eircom settlement has not yet been implemented. The Data Protection Commissioner has intervened to express concern about the privacy implications of the proposed system, which the parties have not been able to allay. The matter is set to return to the High Court in the not too distant future.

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