EU Politicians Send Letter To US Congress Warning Of 'Extraterritorial Effects' Of SOPA And PIPA

from the trouble-ahead dept

Since SOPA and PIPA are US bills, the focus has naturally been on the US response to them – notably in the list of major sites that participated in the blackout, or who have otherwise protested against the proposed legislation. But it's important to remember that the whole rationale of these new laws is tackling copyright infringement outside the US.

A letter to the US Congress, written by a group of European Parliamentarians worried about the "extraterritorial effects" of SOPA and PIPA, offers a different perspective on the bills. For example, it leads with a reference to the EU-US Summit, held in Washington on 28 November 2011 - probably something ignored by most people at the time and since. Here's what the letter says:

The European Parliament, in its joint motion for a resolution on the EU-US Summit of 28 November 2011, objects the proposed legislation by stating:

"Stresses the need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names;"
The joint statement (pdf) of that Summit had the following section about the Internet:
We share a commitment to a single, global Internet, and will resist unilateral efforts to weaken the security, reliability, or independence of its operations — recognizing that respect for fundamental freedoms online, and joint efforts to strengthen security, are mutually reinforcing.
SOPA and PIPA threaten to cut right across that commitment.

Most of the letter goes over the by-now fairly well-known deficits of the bills, but also points out a particular issue for Europe:

Companies wishing to offer online services will be forced to monitor all communication on their platforms and filter anything which could possibly be an infringement of IPR. The methods of monitoring would almost certainly challenge people's fundamental rights. Considering the world wide character of the internet, European companies will be forced to adhere to US standards to prevent DNS blocking. Article 15 of the European E-Commerce Directive prohibits obligations for the general monitoring of their services. The European Court of Justice has recently ruled in the Scarlet/SABAM case that monitoring and filtering of communication online is a breach of fundamental rights such as privacy, freedom of communication and freedom of information and should not be applied to halt infringements of IPR.
It's not clear how that clash between jurisdictions would be resolved: if online services in Europe monitor all communications, they will be breaching European law; if they don't, they may run foul of SOPA/PIPA. Inevitable legal incompatibilities between the two jurisdictions are also hinted at at the close of the letter:
Concluding, SOPA and PROTECT IP will create tensions across the Atlantic in a time where we need to work more closely together. We ask you to vote against SOPA and PROTECT IP and to work with us on effective laws, which enable a fair remuneration of artists and creators online, without violating fundamental rights or fragmenting the free and open internet as we know it. We also believe in close cooperation in promoting internet freedom world wide, in line with our foreign policy objectives.
It's true that the number of politicians signing the letter is small, so its impact is likely to be correspondingly weak, but it seems that Europe's top politicians are also starting to wake up to SOPA and PIPA, as this report on EurActiv indicates:
Ryan Heath, spokesperson for the EU's digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes, told EurActiv that the EU executive was closely monitoring the developments in the US.

"Today's protest clearly shows that digital issues are now mainstream political issues," Heath said.

"While we acknowledge the importance of combating illegal content online, the means to achieve this objective must be effective, proportionate and preserve the advantages of an open Internet. We expect the extra-territorial impacts of any US legislation would be minimised."
Good luck with that.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Kirion (profile), Jan 19th, 2012 @ 2:09pm

    There is an anti-SOPA price written by russian minister of communications in today's Vedomosti paper (it's basically russian WSJ)
    http://www.vedomosti.ru/opinion/news/1480343/kodeks_povedeniya_v_seti

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2012 @ 2:42pm

    if online services in Europe monitor all communications, they will be breaching European law; if they don't, they may run foul of SOPA/PIPA.

    Solution: Block all communications with the US. No privacy violations, no SOPA violations. If they complain, tell them you did it to comply with US law.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 19th, 2012 @ 2:48pm

    Freetards

    "We share a commitment to a single, global Internet, and will resist unilateral efforts to weaken the security, reliability, or independence of its operations recognizing that respect for fundamental freedoms online, and joint efforts to strengthen security, are mutually reinforcing."

    Definitely written by freetards. Cant be trusted. /s

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2012 @ 2:50pm

      Re: Freetards

      Neelie is actually cool, she doesnt buy in to all the drama from the entertainment industries. she's more like "Show me verifiable data!".

       

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    •  
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      weneedhelp (profile), Jan 19th, 2012 @ 2:50pm

      Re: Freetards

      "Concluding, SOPA and PROTECT IP will create tensions across the Atlantic in a time where we need to work more closely together. We ask you to vote against SOPA and PROTECT IP and to work with us on effective laws, which enable a fair remuneration of artists and creators online, without violating fundamental rights or fragmenting the free and open internet as we know it. We also believe in close cooperation in promoting internet freedom world wide, in line with our foreign policy objectives."

      Un freaking believable. Who did the US send this to? Wait...what... they sent it to us? (face-palm)

       

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    Cen Blackwell (profile), Jan 19th, 2012 @ 3:20pm

    Amazed!

    Following the eventually anti-democratic way in which the EU parliament dealt with ACTA, I'm frankly amazed at this step. SOPA / PIPA must indeed be terrible to prompt this response.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2012 @ 5:34pm

      Re: Amazed!

      knowing our EU politicians, they are probably only pissed they didn't come up with it...

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2012 @ 11:09pm

      Re: Amazed!

      What are the odds that the EU has decided that enough is enough? Might we expect that they will no longer be crawling pussycats when somebody puts something like ACTA in front of them? Have they started to develop something like a backbone?

       

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    fogbugzd (profile), Jan 19th, 2012 @ 6:29pm

    Lemmings Anonymous

    So, SOPA/PIPA not only alienated US Congressional allies, it also agitated enough of the European countries to create some foreign backlash. ASCAP made European leaders look like lemmings that were content to follow the US off the cliff. Maybe those days are over.

    Next, will appearing in a 301 report be seen as a badge of honor and indicate a willingness to stand up to pressure from the US media lobby?

     

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    The Luke Witnesser, Jan 20th, 2012 @ 4:50am

    Here lies the truth about SOPA/PIPA that even TechDirt has yet to report: what MPAA, RIAA, and Hollywood execs do not want you to see.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJIuYgIvKsc
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzS5rSvZXe8

    The truth behind why these big companies responsible for SOPA and PIPA are also responsible for piracy itself is far more insidious than even their outmoded business model.

    Hint: can you say, do as I say so I can crush you under heel?

     

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    nasch (profile), Jan 20th, 2012 @ 8:20am

    No clash

    It's not clear how that clash between jurisdictions would be resolved: if online services in Europe monitor all communications, they will be breaching European law; if they don't, they may run foul of SOPA/PIPA.

    Since they're not under US jurisdiction, SOPA would not be binding upon them, and there would be no conflict for European companies. Their US-based ad networks and payment processors, on the other hand, would be forced to abide by SOPA.

     

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    PB, Jan 20th, 2012 @ 8:37am

    Please provide a non-Scribd link to the letter.

     

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    btrussell (profile), Jan 20th, 2012 @ 9:20am

    "But it's important to remember that the whole rationale of these new laws is tackling copyright infringement outside the US."

    I thought the purpose was to prevent Americans access to sites outside the US that may have infringing content/links to?

    The GAFF
    Great American Firewall of Freedom!

     

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