Is Assisting With Assisting With Assisting With Potential Copyright Infringement Illegal?
from the perhaps-in-Sweden dept
With a Swedish court trying to shut down The Pirate Bay by forcing what it thought was the site’s main ISP to block it, many folks are talking about how quickly the site came back, and the site’s rather defiant response to the attempt. There’s also some buzz about the fact that an antivirus company, Avast, has started blocking The Pirate Bay as being “malicious.” While Avast defends the decision, it certainly makes me question Avast’s competence as a security company (Update: Avast now says it was a false positive and has been fixed — but that wasn’t what the company said originally). It should be looking at actual malicious behavior — not just blocking a site that you could go to where you might possibly if you did something dumb get some malicious files on your computer. Why not just do what a security product is supposed to do and stop the actual maliciousness from occurring, rather than blocking the entire site?
But, more to the point, this highlights one of the slippery slope problems with The Pirate Bay ruling and others. When you start to blame the tools for the problem, where do you stop? Peter Sunde made this point with a short Twitter message about the order against the ISP (I think that’s what it’s about):
It’s now decided that Assisting with assisting with assisting of eventual copyright infringement is a crime.
Indeed. This is the problem when you allow for some sort of “inducement” or “contributory copyright infringement” standard. Where do you stop? The Pirate Bay itself doesn’t infringe on copyrights. It’s the users who do. But, the courts blamed The Pirate Bay. And when that didn’t work, it went after the site’s ISP, who is so tangentially related to the actual infringement that it’s ridiculous to put the burden on it. Who’s next? Already we have the entertainment industry trying to get individual ISPs to block their customers from The Pirate Bay. Basically, it seems like anyone in the chain, no matter how loosely connected can now get pulled into this as potentially violating copyright law.
Update: A separate point raised in the comments: apparently the court only told the ISP to block access to a small list of specific content, but without being able to do that, it just blocked the whole site.