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The internet will win.
-- evil_giraffe 
10/04/09 at 01:29 
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 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 20/01/12 at 15:33
Because of the internet I, and thousands of other people, know that an hour or two ago the "press officer at the European Commission representation in Ireland" sent the following to the operators of satirical blog:

"Dear Broadsheet

I am the press officer at the European Commission representation in Ireland. It looks like you are facilitiating hate mail which could be the subject of a Garda investigation (hate email is illegal, last time I looked).
Since “Dirky” left a comment on ‘Who Is Barbara Nolan?’ inviting people to email her, hate mail has been arriving in this office, possibly ochestrated, as the messages are similar. Examples available. Please tell me how you will deal with this?" his/#comments

For fuck sake like.

The press officer. Do they send out mails like that to all media organisations?
 From : number10 Posted : 22/01/12 at 22:02
Reads like a very pleasant note to me! Must be nice guys in that press office...
 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 24/01/12 at 09:44
Information Technology law issues with a focus on freedom of expression, privacy and other fundamental rights. Brought to you by TJ McIntyre.

Ireland's SOPA: A FAQ

What's this all about?

Long story short: the Irish government plans, before the end of January, to bring in a law which would allow Irish courts to block access to websites accused of infringing copyright (and possibly do other things as well).

Isn't that a short time for parliament to examine it?

The Irish parliament won't have a chance to debate it before it's passed. The law is to be brought in by a statutory instrument, something which requires only the stroke of a minister's pen.

Who's responsible?

The law is the responsibility of the Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation where the key person is junior minister Sean Sherlock.

What will the law say?

We don't have a final text yet. But the key part is likely to be similar to a previous draft which said:
3. The Act of 2000 is hereby amended by the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (5) of section 40:
(5A)(a) without prejudice to subsections (3) and (4), the owner of the copyright in the work concerned may apply to the High Court for an injunction against a person who provides facilities referred to in subsection (3) where those facilities are being used by one or more third parties to infringe the copyright in that work.
(b) In considering an application for an injunction under this subsection, the court shall have due regard to the rights of any third party likely to be affected and the court shall make such directions (including, where appropriate, a direction requiring a third party to be put on notice of the application) as the court may deem necessary or appropriate in all the circumstances.

Can we have that in English please?

Certainly. This will give the Irish courts an open-ended power to grant orders against ISPs and other intermediaries who provide facilities which might be used to infringe copyright. This could include hosting providers, social networks, forums, video hosting sites - potentially most online services.

What will these intermediaries be required to do?

We don't know. At a minimum this will probably allow courts to require ISPs to block access to alleged infringing sites (such as The Pirate Bay). Over and above that it becomes impossible to say - the language is so vague it might, for example, allow a court to require an ISP to introduce a three strikes system or to block certain ports. However, once copyright plaintiffs get hold of this power you can expect it to be pushed to its absolute limit.

Will the sites to be blocked have a right to be heard?

Maybe. The draft language does say that affected third parties might be given notice of applications to block them. On the other hand, in 2009 an Irish High Court judge was happy to allow Eircom to block The Pirate Bay without any notification or chance to be heard which doesn't bode well for the future.

What sort of standard will be used to decide if a site should be blocked?

Your guess is as good as mine - the draft is completely silent on this point.

Isn't this rather vague?

Yes. By failing to provide any real detail, the proposed law leaves the future of the Irish internet essentially in the discretion of Irish judges.

Could this harm Irish industry?

Yes - including the latest push to establish Ireland as a centre for cloud computing. Here's what tech journalist Adrian Weckler had to say:
With their billions of users, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter inherently find some copyright protected material leaked onto their web services. The new law will give music and movie firms the legal footing to get ISPs blocking. That may not go down too well with Google and Facebook, which are two of Dublin's biggest employers. It probably won't sit easily, either, with the IDA, which may have to alter its pitch to large US social media firms who may have been thinking of setting up in Ireland. (That includes Twitter.)

So where's the Regulatory Impact Assessment? Surely we need more detail about the impact this law will have?


Would this vagueness breach the European Convention on Human Rights?

Quite possibly.

If nothing else will it at least stop illegal downloads and protect Bono's pocketbook?

No. Blocking is easily circumvented. But don't take my word for it - here's what UK regulator Ofcom had to say:
For all blocking methods circumvention by site operators and internet users is technically possible and would be relatively straightforward by determined users.

So why is the government pushing this law now?

In a 2010 decision the High Court held that European law required Ireland to introduce blocking into domestic law, and that Ireland was in breach by failing to provide for court ordered blocking.

Doesn't that decision mean that blocking must be introduced?

Maybe. The law in this area is extremely complex, particularly since the European Court of Justice has given an important decision restricting the use of blocking in the meantime. That decision found that filtering would be impermissible if it undermined freedom of expression and blocked lawful communications - something that is inevitable if this proposal is adopted.

From a practical point of view, the European Commission - which monitors implementation of EU law - doesn't seem to think Ireland is in breach and hasn't taken any action against Ireland for failure to introduce blocking. Irish telecoms group ALTO have also put forward a different view arguing that this law is unnecessary.

However, even if we assume that EU law does require some form of blocking then it should not be introduced in a way which
• short circuits the democratic process and without proper scrutiny by the Irish parliament; and
• introduces untolerable uncertainty for Irish online businesses and fundamental rights.
What can I do about it?

If you live in Ireland and you want to stop this proposal then you should let Sean Sherlock (email) (twitter @seansherlocktd), the senior minister Richard Bruton (email) and your TDs what you think of it. Phone their offices if you can - one phone call will outweigh 20 emails. has more you can do.

If you live outside Ireland, you might still email Richard Bruton and Sean Sherlock to let them know the effect this will have on Ireland's reputation as a place to set up technology businesses.

One more thing - is it really true that the music industry wants the Irish taxpayer to pay for supposedly lost sales?

Yes. I hope you brought your wallet.
 From : number10 Posted : 24/01/12 at 12:55
I am interested in TJ's group, Digital Rights Ireland. Do they think digital rights are more important than any other rights? Not sure where I stand on all of this but what is clear is that it is the job of Government to mediate between conflicting rights - e.g. the right to free speech .v. the right not to have slanderous untruths disseminated. There are very few 'rights' that are not in some way qualified...
 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 24/01/12 at 13:06
Always with the slanderous untruths. Time and time again.

What's that got to do with anything?

I say we ban pencils and paper to prevent slanderous untruths.
 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 24/01/12 at 14:07
It's a new method of defaming people. So what?

The last post is about legislation purporting to regulate copyright infringement, but in reality drafted in such a way as to allow those in authority attempt to prevent access to a huge amount of information.

I say "Attempt to" because I don't think it's possible.
 From : number10 Posted : 24/01/12 at 18:46
That reference was just an example of conflicting rights. As I said I am not sure where I stand on the issue, but it does seem obvious to me that it is the job of 'government' to create the framework where different competing rights are balanced. You are due to publish a novel next week. Without any prior consultation, someone turns it into an ebook and makes it available for free download, issues a press release to that effect and publicises it effectively. It is now out there and can be passed around via any and every platform which facilitates the transfer of digital files.

1,000 people download it free in the first month and 100 buy it. It continues in the same vein. By the end of the year, 11,000 people have got digital copies free and 1,100 have paid for it. So - you've been shafted...

Who can you turn to? Is it right that there is no one? What are you supposed to do? Or say?

Aw, shucks?

What do you think, Evil?
 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 25/01/12 at 07:52
How is the change in the law outlined above going to stop that?
 From : number10 Posted : 25/01/12 at 10:40
I'm not sure. If it happened with physical copies of the book being printed without permission, you'd get an injunction straight away and that'd be the end of it. What's wrong with the idea that you, as a writer, are entitled to the same protection of your copyright - or whatever you want to call it - in the digital arena as you are in the physical world? Either you accept that there is an entitlement to protection there or not. And the next question is: how do you structure things so that this can be effected?
 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 25/01/12 at 12:03
"Either you accept that there is an entitlement to protection there or not."

Yeah, there is.

"And the next question is: how do you structure things so that this can be effected?

Put a law in place that means (if you can afford the lawyers) you can force NTL to block user generated sites because every now and again they infringe your copyright. Problem solved right?

(the sites likely to be blocked are also (and very often primarily) used by artists (who generally can't afford lawyers) for the purpose of sharing material over which they waive any intellectual property rights)

(the only people against whom an injunction can be enforced are those who are readily identifiable and based within the jurisdiction of the courts (transparently run Irish websites and ISPs)

(the establishment in Ireland (politicians, “Journalists”, the select few who own/control the traditional news media, music industry parasites, “PR consultants”, estate agents, “bust old money”, senior Union Leaders, etc) hate and fear web 2.0 (with good reason), these people can afford lawyers)

(this thread is full of copyright material)
 From : number10 Posted : 25/01/12 at 12:27
You're only saying what you don't do. Which surely is part of the problem. If the only answer to the 'you' we spoke about is 'fuck off you don't matter' - then that's hardly adequate. by the way, Google track everything you do, to feed what they think you want and need to better their chances of selling ads aimed at you. Or am I wrong in saying that? They could equally track the use of music if they were minded to, only to a different economic purpose than fattening their profits.
 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 25/01/12 at 12:31 of-winning-an-ernst/

Ernst and Young pop up in the news regularly, but no one ever reminds us of the fact that they were auditors of Anglo Irish Bank at a time when Sean Fitzpatrick was concealing up to €120 million of “irregular” personal loans by transferring them to Irish Nationwide at each financial year end.

Why is that?
 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 25/01/12 at 12:33
I don't understand your last post.
 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 25/01/12 at 12:40
Wait…you’re proposing that the courts enjoin Google to monitor the browsing history of all Irish users and pass this onto third parties for the purposes of extracting royalties to fund those who can afford to enjoin Google?


*Goes to google “How to fake an IP address”*
 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 25/01/12 at 13:11
Anyway no one’s gonna apply this law to Google (they can afford lawyers you see).

Eircom, UPC, Perlico, ESAT etc, might be forced to block access to Rapidshare,,, various torrent sites…but anyone who can’t figure out how to get around that is already using itunes.,,,,,,,, Namawinelake,,,, and can expect regular bullying solicitors letters however.
 From : tricky Posted : 25/01/12 at 13:39
you're right, that people are afraid of google, and infact the Irish government more then most. But they regularly ride roughshod over peoples rights without giving a flying fuck. The worst example of this was "google books" where essentially they said, we're going to put the full text of every book in existence into our database unless you SPECIFICALLY tell us that you don't want it there.
 From : tricky Posted : 25/01/12 at 13:40
also fwiw Evil, google already do that. they just keep the information for themselves.
 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 25/01/12 at 22:44
Every word ever committed to print archived in one location, accessible from every location and searchable in split seconds.

Mind blowing.

Somebody steal it so Google don’t control it!
 From : number10 Posted : 26/01/12 at 00:25
The point you seem to miss EG is that there would be far less books available if people weren't getting paid for producing them. Writers need to be able to earn a living - or at least a stipend for what they do.

There are many ways to fund art. The system of patronage under which much of the great visual art was produced until the modern era was successful in certain respects but it was also hugely restrictive. The democratization of the arts relies hugely on the understanding that the artist is entitled to payment for the work - and for the copying of the work. When it comes to books in particular, publishers have to believe that they have a fighting chance of getting their money back and maybe even making a bit of a profit if they're to keep investing in new writers.

Puncture that proposition seriously, and the number of (quality) books being commissioned falls. The number of (quality) novels being written falls. And so on. And for why? So that Google can make more money?

Everybody gets squeezed - except the telecoms.
 From : evil_giraffe Posted : 26/01/12 at 02:00
I'm not missing that point. I'm not discussing that point. This thread is not about that point. It's a separate point. That point is elsewhere.

I appreciate that it takes time to create a work of art (as we've come to define it) and that it is necessary for an artist to feed his (her) children during this period.

But the proposed legislation will have no effect on that point.

I don't know why you keep referring to books either. The theft of novelists' labour hasn't fully taken off yet. (It will though). (Maybe you chose it because novelists can't put on concerts?)

For the last century a huge proportion of the the labour of those who dedicated years of their lives to writing a novel or recording an album or making a film has always been stolen by those who have the power to decide what should be made available to the public at large.

These people are no longer necessary.

Maybe art doesn't have to be epic or expensive?

People were banging drums in caves for a long time before the idea that doing so should entitle you to lifestyle far removed from the people who you grew up with.

D'ya remember, back in the day, when "Artists" used to proclaim that "The money isn't important to us"? Why don't we hear that any more?

Maybe we'll look back at the early 70's as the golden age of cinema and try to recreate a world where to make a film you had to first sell an idea to a small group of wealthy people in small part of the world.

It doesn't matter though.

No matter how much we pine for times past, they're still times past.

It can't happen.

Whether or not it can is not the point.

The point is that we have an unfathomable ocean of information at our fingertips.

Who's to say where things will go from here?

No more blockbusters, no more epics, no more masterpieces?

Yeah, that sounds unpleasant, but we still have an unfathomable ocean of information at our fingertips.

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