Wednesday 29 April 2009

Taiwan adopts "three strikes" law

Taiwan's legislature has passed an amendment to the island's Copyright Act aimed at discouraging digital copyright infringement over peer-to-peer networks and increasing the responsibility of Internet Service Providers. First off, the country has adopted the much debated ‘three strikes’ system where web users who continue to access unlicensed sources of content after receiving two warnings could lose their internet connections – or at least have access restricted. Whilst a number of countries have looked at this system, so far only France and New Zealand have seriously considered implementing 'three strikes' into law. In France the much criticised proposals are still working their way through the French parliament after a temporary set back when the government failed to get a majority in the National Assembley just before Easter. In New Zealand the Government is still trying to work out how to implement their new law.
The Taiwanese government has introduced the system in order to achieve its two stated aims of cracking down on internet piracy - without flooding the courts with lawsuits from foreign content owners against the providers of file-sharing services or individual file-sharers further overburdening struggling court. It seems the new law means that repeat offenders will have their internet access "restricted" rather than automatically cut off. That could mean temporary suspensions rather than long term denial of service, something that might appease consumer rights bodies as well as the ISPs who don’t want to lose customers (although they equally don’t want to be liable for customers' illegal downloading activities).
Commenting on reports that ISPs could cut off consumers who have downloaded illegal content by mistake, Margaret Chen, Deputy Director General of Taiwan's Intellectual Property Office (TIPO), told reporters:
"That's not really the point. These people are doing something they shouldn't be doing in the first place. Besides, there are lots of ways to restrict Internet access besides cutting it off entirely".
TIPO added that The P2P amendment will "significantly redress the problems of copyright infringement" in a statement. The new laws will also give ISPs ‘safe harbour’ protection although this is balanced by provisions ensure rights owners can have infringing content removed – Billboard says that the new law is based on the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision against Grokster and that the ISP liability amendment allows rights holders to either claim their rights via judicial proceedings, or else follow a "notice and takedown" procedure to have copyright infringing content removed.

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