Ireland’s SOPA: no reprieve – SI not going back out for consultation

8 Feb 2012

Last-minute hopes for a controversial statutory instrument dubbed Ireland’s SOPA going back out to the public for consultation have been dashed. The instrument is due to be signed shortly.

Rumours had emerged that the considerable furor surrounding the change to the Copyright Act 2000 that led to more than 80,000 people signing a Stop SOPA Ireland petition and 1,300 people pledging to visit their TDs on the matter had brought about a last-minute change of heart.

Sources suggested that a decision to put the legislative change back out for public consultation was due to be announced by Minister Sean Sherlock later today.

However, a spokesperson for Sherlock’s office at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said this was not the case.

She said the statutory instrument was issued to the Cabinet last night; a mere formality because it appeared in Dail business last week.

She said Sherlock’s permanent secretary said that a new consultation was “definitely not the case” and the legislative change is “expected to be signed pretty soon.”

Once signed, the battle between internet service providers (ISPs) and record labels will be out of the Government’s hands and firmly in the hands of the courts.

The entire matter harks back to a court case between UPC and IRMA (the big four music labels) in 2010, in which the presiding judge Mr Justice Peter Charleton pointed out that existing legislation did not give him the power to grant injunctions against ISPs because the European directive had not been fully transposed.

Now courts will have the power to grant injunctive relief to rights holders seeking the removal of copyrighted material from websites and remedies such as three strikes warnings before consumers’ broadband access is removed.

But the battle does not end there. Across Europe on 11 February thousands are expected to protest the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) treaty, which also contains measures to grant similar powers in 22 European countries.

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