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Censorship Government Your Rights Online

Italy May Censor Torrent Sites 194

An anonymous reader writes "Following a Pirate Bay block more than a year ago, Italy continues its attempts to censor torrent sites. The Italian Supreme Court has ruled that copyright holders can now force ISPs to block BitTorrent sites, even if they are hosted outside Italy. The torrent sites which 'hold' copyrighted materials are accused of taking part in criminal activity. It seems someone should enlighten Italian jurists about technology."
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Italy May Censor Torrent Sites

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  • by mrpacmanjel ( 38218 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @07:00AM (#30591896)

    This is extremely worrying.

    Let me get this straight. In previous rulings copyright holders were denied the blocking of sites on the grounds of free speech and censorship.

    The Supreme court gets involved and blocking P2P sites suddenly becomes a good idea?

    We have a Supreme court in the UK and something similar happened recently with "Unfair" bank charges.

    Two (maybe one was an appeal?) court cases were held to decide whether bank charges fell under UK consumer law and thus can be challenged that bank charges were excessive. Both times the courts agreed this was the case.

    The Supreme court got involved and funnily enough ruled that this was not the case which now means banks can charge what they like.

    Since Lord Mandy went on holiday and "bumped into" into Mr Geffen - the recommendations of the digital communications report and the concerns of ISPs were completely ignored. It appears the "3-stikes" legislation is to go ahead after all.
    The EU took a dim view of this policy and warned the UK it was illegal and against the EU principles of free speech and human rights.

    I'm pretty sure the EU slapped-down France the first time France tried to implement this policy too.

    However, recently:
    1)France recently tried a second time and no comment from the EU has been heard.
    2)Lord Mandy's propsed legislation appears to be going ahead.
    3)Italy are ready to censor the internet.

    What happened to suddenly make all these points "agreeable" and not challenged by the EU ?

    There must have been intense lobbying and money used by copyright holders to silence the many critics of these proposals.

    It appears our "democracy" is firmly under the control of commercial entities.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @07:20AM (#30591962)

    Unlike the US, this decision DOES NOT GENERATE A PRECEDENT. this means that applies just to this case, according to italian regulations.

  • by lbbros ( 900904 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @07:35AM (#30591996) Homepage

    This is for US/UK people, to clarify things: the Corte di Cassazione (aka the Italian Supreme Court) is indeed the maximum level of interpretation of the law, but its decisions do *not* set precedents. They are mostly used as a guidance, but judges/prosecutors aren't forced to follow such an interpretation (i.e., there is some kind of discretionality).

    It is worth to know here that the same court rejected an accusation on the grounds of copyright infringement because there was no profit involved.

    And no, this has nothing to do with the government. The judicial system is definitely of different views with regards to the government.

  • Re:Not the point ... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Psicopatico ( 1005433 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @07:43AM (#30592014)

    This ruling is just the confirmation of an original one enacted last summer (and promptly suspended) which imposed all major ISPs to block traffic at DNS level.
    Any user using OpenDNS or his own DNS (or GDNS today) wouldn't be affected.
    This is nothing more than the perfect italian way to make politics: life goes on just like before, but the big guys can say that something has beeen done.
    (Yes, i live in italy and feel ashamed of that)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @07:52AM (#30592046)

    So basically you're saying that if something can be used in an illegal fashion it should be illegal and to have it banned one must only point that out? Fascinating..

  • by Kijori ( 897770 ) <> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @07:57AM (#30592066)

    Since Lord Mandy went on holiday and "bumped into" into Mr Geffen - the recommendations of the digital communications report and the concerns of ISPs were completely ignored. It appears the "3-stikes" legislation is to go ahead after all.

    I think you're absolutely right to be worried. I'm going to talk about the UK situation since that's what I know about, but the situation EU-wide is largely as you describe: governments are caving to copyright owners.

    Before saying anything else, it's worth making clear that the "3 strikes" legislation contains nothing to do with three strikes []. It is totally silent on the specifics of the chances that have to be given to internet users before they can be cut off and leaves the question entirely to a "code" that has not yet been written and so cannot be reviewed before the bill becomes law. You can read more about this at the link I gave above. The "new" bill pays lip-service to the Government's "commitment to human rights", and seems to be relying on this "code" to avoid the criticism of the EU. However, as the link above makes clear, it gives the Secretary of State a get-out clause to get past the code if he wants to, with little to no oversight or controls.

    There's a lot of confusion, even on Slashdot, about the content of the bill. To break down the sections on Copyright infringement (taken from []), the new process in case of alleged infringement is:

    1. The rightsholder for example a record company determines that the user is infringing. The bill does not set out how this is to be done; the company is in effect free to determine guilt any way they see fit. As has been shown by the cases that have gone to court, this determination is often made on the back of weak or non-existant evidence.
    2. The rightsholder sends a letter to your ISP
    3. Your ISP sends you a warning letter. This will contain information of the time of the infringement and the IP address of the computer that committed it. It will also contain information on securing your network.
    4. If the rights holder judges that infringement has continued after a period of time (not defined in the bill) they may require your ISP to throttle your connection, prevent you from accessing certain resources, or disconnect you completely.
    5. If you believe this was done in error, you can appeal. This appeal would not go to a court, but to a First-Tier tribunal. This would be your first chance to deny the accusations, and could come after the punitive measures had been taken.

    This goes absolutely against the presumption of innocence that is such an important part of a modern democracy.

    If this all sounds a bit worrying, there is some good news. The bill is entering its committee stage on the 6th of January, and this is the best chance to change it before it reaches the House of Commons, at which point its progress will be faster and more subject to the party whip. So please, write to a Lord [] and explain to them why the measure is bad, either morally or because - as has even been admitted by the impact assessment - network security means the wrong people will be punished, and what they can do to change it - i.e. go to the open committee session starting on the 6th and change the bill.

    Things are advancing very quickly, and I appreciate that not everyone has time to read the 300+ pages of the bill, the debates, the notes and the impact assessment, so if anyone has any questions on their contents please ask and I will answer them. Otherwise, please write in before it's too late, and spread the word - either online or offline - about the travesty that is the Digital Economy Bill.

  • by selven ( 1556643 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:06AM (#30592774)

    You're repeating the debate the 10001st time already, and the rebuttals are well ironed out:

    1) Some people actually want to support the artists.
    2) Artists make most of their money from concerts and merchandising anyway.
    3) Your song being on increases your popularity and people will be more likely to go to your website, giving you ad revenue.
    4) We can't stop copyrighted content from appearing on the public P2P networks days or even hours after it is officially released, and copyright law has to respect this basic technological reality.

  • Re:MOD PARENT UP! (Score:5, Informative)

    by selven ( 1556643 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:09AM (#30592798)

    If you leave out the pay step in a restaurant, the restaurant loses money. If you leave out the pay step in a software purchase, the software company stays the same, as if you never touched the software at all.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich