Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Copyright proposals block innovation and free expression

I have an opinion piece in today's Irish Times arguing against current government proposals which would allow internet blocking and more. Here's an excerpt:
As currently drafted, the statutory instrument provides that the High Court may grant an injunction against an internet intermediary who is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing – but does not specify even the most basic details regarding how this power might be exercised.

What type of injunction might be granted? On what criteria? Against what types of intermediary – internet service providers, discussion forums, search engines, social networking sites, video hosting sites? Who will bear the costs of these injunctions? Who will be responsible if, as often happens, an unrelated website is wrongfully blocked?

This lack of detail makes it impossible to predict how this law might be applied, and means that clarification will come only after repeated and expensive trips to the High Court.

The Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (whose members include Google) has opposed the legislation, noting the proposal creates “business uncertainty for those running or considering establishing internet services from Ireland” in a way which may have “drastic consequences” for them: in short, it will act as a deterrent to the next generation of Irish internet businesses which may relocate to warmer legal climes. Significantly, the Department of Enterprise has not produced a Regulatory Impact Assessment of the measure.
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