Norway is expected to reveal its new proposals to tackle file-sharing sites that offer copyright material which could include changes to copyright law to allow sites to be blocked, reports TorrentFreak.
After rights holders in the country tried to get various sites including The Pirate Bay blocked at the ISP level and putting legal pressure on ISPs like Telenor (Norway’s largest Internet service provider) in court, rights holders found that the law didn't support what they were trying to accomplish. In November 2009 a court ruled that Telenor had no legal obligation to block the world’s most infamous torrent site. In February 2010 a subsequent appeal was rejected because it had no basis under Norwegian law for the claim. Trade groups IFPI and music rights outfit TONO later called for legislative change to "close the holes" in the country’s Copyright Act.
In May 2011 Norway's Ministry of Culture announced that it had put forth proposals for amendments to the Copyright Act which would "..give licensees the tools they need to follow-up on copyright infringement on the Internet, while protecting privacy." Key proposals would change the law so that rightsholders would have an easier time identifying infringers from their IP addresses and would allow ISP-level blocking of sites deemed to be infringing copyright.
This month the Norwegian government is expected to present a new anti-piracy plan, but those who opposed site blocking and internet openness are already expressing opposition.
"One of the greatest advantages of the internet is its openness. It concerns us if the government is willing to restrict this," says Tore Tennøe of the Technology Council. "If the measures are indeed as they have been outlined, it will be a step towards more heavy-handed control. It’s something we’re used to seeing in countries that we do not like to compare ourselves with."
Torgeir Waterhouse, Director of Internet and new media at IKT Norway, thinks that blocking measures will only enjoy short-term effectiveness and will be easily circumvented. He also expresses concern about government plans to make it easier for rightsholders to link harvested IP addresses to individuals more easily.
"In practice, this means that everyone who has recorded a song or composed a text will have the opportunity to monitor other people online," he told NRK.no. "If you include all the licensees, we quickly arrive at between 1 and 2 million people who will get this opportunity. "It is unrealistic to believe that the Data Protection Authority will have the capacity to conduct a thorough audit of all who are engaged in this business, and therefore this may soon threaten privacy."
We will have more on this story as the Norwegian government officially reveals the changes it plans for the Copyright Act in the country. Stay tuned.