EU in web U-turn to allow member States to ban illegal file sharers

23 Oct 2009

Despite a recent amendment affirming internet access as a “basic human right”, the European Parliament has done a complete U-turn and is intent on allowing EU countries to ban illegal file sharers from internet access.

In recent months, the French Constitutional Court overturned the controversial HADOPI legislation that introduced a “three strikes” regime in France for persistent copyright infringers, which would eventually result in the perpetrator losing their internet connection.

The HADOPI legislation, the French Constitutional Court ruled, goes directly against a decision in the European Parliament – Amendment 138 – whereby disconnecting alleged copyright infringers would violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of internet users.

Amendment 138 states: “Measures taken regarding end-users’ access to or use of services and applications through electronic communications networks shall respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, including in relation to privacy, freedom of expression and access to information and the right to a judgment by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law and acting in respect of due process in accordance with Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

Three strikes, and out

The U-Turn will be good news for proponents of three-strikes type rulings, especially the record labels, and will result in countries like the UK to press ahead with tough legislation aimed at protecting the earnings of rights-holders.

Earlier this year, Ireland’s largest telecoms provider, Eircom, struck a deal with the big four record labels – Warner, EMI, Sony and Universal – to ban illegal file sharers from internet access after three warnings.

Over six years, sales of music CDs in the Irish market went from €146 million to €102 million in 2007, according to IRMA, which represents the Big Four.

By John Kennedy

Photo: The European Parliament is now intent on allowing EU countries to ban illegal file sharers from internet access.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years