SOPA in Europe – Dutch ISPs refuse to block The Pirate Bay
In a battle reminiscent of the UPC vs the record industry of 2010 and a foreshadow of what may happen in Ireland once a new statutory instrument amending the Copyright Act 2000 is signed into law, two of the largest ISPs in The Netherlands, KPN and T-Mobile, have said they will not be blocking subscriber access to The Pirate Bay.
This is despite the Court of the Hague ruling two weeks ago that ISPs Ziggo and rival XS4ALL have to block access to The Pirate Bay after a successful case by Hollywood-supported anti-piracy group BREIN.
According to torrent blog TorrentFreak, both KPN and T-Mobile argue that blocking websites is a threat to the open internet.
They suggest the entertainment industry focuses on new business models instead.
Following the ruling, BREIN began pursuing other ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay.
In Ireland in 2010, the recording industry began pursuing other ISPs following an out-of-court settlement with Eircom to implement a three-strikes policy. While UPC successfully defended itself in late 2010, the presiding judge Mr Justice Peter Charlton held that laws seeking to identify and disconnect copyright infringers were not enforceable in Ireland, despite being cognisant of the financial harm record labels are suffering due to illegal downloads.
This set in motion the train of events leading to the controversial statutory instrument that amends the Copyright Act 2000 to give courts the power to grant injunctions against ISPs.
Last week, the statutory instrument was due to be signed by Junior Minister in the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Sean Sherlock, TD.
However, its timing – just one week after SOPA and PIPA were rejected in the US following massive protests online – meant that there was considerable awareness in Ireland of the statutory instrument and a petition against the signing of the instrument dubbed ‘Ireland’s SOPA’ attracted 35,000 signatures.
Sherlock has held off signing the instrument until the matter is given a full debate in the Dail this week. Regardless of the debate, however, the conventional wisdom is that due to the Government's large majority any motion Sherlock puts forward is likely to pass.
While all of this was brewing last week, on Thursday Ireland was a signatory along with 21 other European nations of a major worldwide Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that contains similar measures to impose three-strikes remedies on ISPs.