Estonia Next In Line To Receive US 'Encouragement' To Adopt Harsher Anti-Piracy Laws

from the nice-little-country-you've-got-here dept

Numerous Wikileaks cables have highlighted the pressure that the US has brought to bear on several foreign governments behind closed doors in an attempt to get the latter to pass maximalist copyright laws. But it’s worth noting that plenty of arm twisting takes place openly. Here, for example, is a letter (pdf) from the American Chamber of Commerce in Estonia addressed to the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications of that country:

We find that the level of intellectual property protection in Estonia needs to be improved, both on the legislative and practical fronts. Estonian government should also focus more on investigating the commercial IPR infringements committed through the Internet, and not only breaches of law in relation with cyber terrorism. In addition, the government must follow the EU and national level debates that might have an impact on IPR legislative framework.

In other words, Estonia really ought fall into line like the other countries. Because if it doesn’t:

Insufficient IPR protection has a negative effect on the entire economic situation in Estonia. As long as the IPR holders cannot be sure that their rights are protected, the international groups are hesitant in having their R&D units in Estonia and it is likely that R&D projects are run in countries with more comprehensive IPR protection. Insufficient IPR protection can also be an obstacle for starting new production units in Estonia as the IPR holders feel that the risk of IPR infringement is too high in Estonia and therefore it is better to produce their products in countries where the IPR-s are better protected.

Although the letter touches on trademarks and other areas, its central concern is copyright infringement, especially on the Internet. Its list of demands — sorry, suggestions — is depressingly familiar: stronger protection; more criminal prosecutions; intermediary liability for ISPs and website owners; and an “effective mechanism of damage compensation, without having to go through lengthy, complicated or costly procedures for achieving redress through the courts.”

However, as an excellent post on the Estonian Public Broadcasting site explains, the letter’s underlying assumptions about lack of enforcement are simply wrong:

They claim, for instance, that there is poor intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement in Estonia. However, Estonia’s IPR laws and enforcement, at least in the commercial space, are quite adequate. Operations, including websites, that exist for commercial exploitation of unlicensed rights, are already illegal and get shut down. The operators can be imprisoned for up to three years.

The article goes on to point out one of the likely casualties of any harsher approach to copyright enforcement in Estonia:

if suing for non-commercial infringement is allowed, sooner or later, the pubs, restaurants and hotels offering free WiFi will be receiving legal threats and fines because someone downloaded something via their connection. It will be simpler for businesses to close their free internet access points, rather than face the legal harassment and risk of huge crippling fines that could result from one of their clients downloading something illegally.

When that happens, the Open Internet, an item of national pride in Estonia, will effectively be dead.

That’s an important point: copyright legislation does not exist in isolation, but can have serious knock-on effects on the digital life of a country — in this case, jeopardizing Estonia’s place in the vanguard of open wireless Internet coverage. Let’s hope the Estonian ministers bear that in mind when their visitors from the US Embassy come calling.

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Comments on “Estonia Next In Line To Receive US 'Encouragement' To Adopt Harsher Anti-Piracy Laws”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Those links talk about EstDomains, not Estonia. and while EstDomains may have participated in questionable activity, the CEO did get punished for it.

“The CEO, Vladimir T?a?t?in (also known as “SCR”), received a prison sentence for credit card fraud, document forgery, and money laundering.”

So a country has some people who have participated in illegal activity and you use that to label the entire country. With that logic, the U.S. is a country famed as a source for distributing aids tainted blood to hemophiliacs and what’s even worse is that no one in the U.S. got sent to prison for it. So the U.S. is even worse, their crimes make estdomains look like misdemeanors and they don’t even punish those responsible because big pharma gets the high court treatment.

So what’s your point again? That criminals exist in all countries but the U.S. has a history of not punishing big corporate criminals who get the high court treatment?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: American Chamber of Commerce?

The only legitimate organization representing the interests of the United States and its citizens ending in the words, “of Commerce,” is the Department of Commerce.

Everything else meeting that description is just a collective organization of corporations seeking protectionism and easier ways to insert their hands more deeply into your pocket. I.E., scum.

Anonymous Coward says:

“without having to go through lengthy, complicated or costly procedures for achieving redress through the courts.”

But when a restaurant or other venue is compelled to stop hosting independent performers without facing huge legal risks and potential liability or when bakeries are compelled to stop allowing children to make drawings on their birthday cakes without facing potentially huge legal risks and liabilities, they are forced to either comply with collection society complaints and demands and pay huge royalties or stop providing certain entertainment services or risk complicated or costly procedures to defend itself. When Veoh is faced with bogus lawsuits it is forced to undergo lengthy, complicated and costly procedures to defend itself.

Anonymous Coward says:

“…and an “effective mechanism of damage compensation, without having to go through lengthy, complicated or costly procedures for achieving redress through the courts.”

“When Veoh is faced with bogus lawsuits it is forced to undergo lengthy, complicated and costly procedures to defend itself.”

What’s good for them isn’t good for anyone else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Frankly I don’t see how Stonia is a lawless place, if they were they wouldn’t be able to implement such things as Estonia becomes E-stonia with digital revolution which is an electronic ID that is used for everything there they are decades ahead of the US in that, it seems every other country is ahead of the US.

This wouldn’t be possible in the US because the government is don’t trust its people and would use those things to harm them and the people know it, the loss of confidence is the single most damaging result of the use of force to solve their own problems is the thing that will destroy this once great country.

And the thing enabling that is of course the use of exclusionary powers like copyrights that are growing to become something that can’t be controlled anymore, it is even threatening society.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Thank you Lobbyists, Shills, and Trolls

It would seem there is a corollary to the Streisand Effect. Trying to bring as much attention as possible to a bad idea, can bring all of that intended attention to a good idea.

I would like to thank all of the trolls for working so hard in their efforts to maximize IP laws to their benefit. Without that effort, so many of us would not be communicating so much about things we otherwise would not have paid attention to.

I’m guessing that all of the political maneuvering that goes on in foreign countries has been business as usual for decades. We may have known that it was going on but never actually got to hear what was actually being said. Often, we the people, have worried that we are being watched by our respective governments, which in a lot of cases is true (i.e. TSA and Tweets). We the people, are waking up and realizing that our governments are much more worried about us watching them. Secrets are no longer so secret. The web is appropriately named for its ability to catch things.

Once again, thank you for all your hard work trolls. Just a bit of advice…. the interweb thingy is not like TV or Newpaper; when you state your position on it, people actually get to read it, research it, and then start talking to one another.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Thank you Lobbyists, Shills, and Trolls

One effect is that the younger generation are now clued up on these issues at a much earlier age. I didn’t really know anything much about copyright at 16 – but my daughter came to me asking if I knew about SOPA (and complaining about it). Considering that we’re not even in the US it would seem like the maximalists have just scored a massive long term own goal by alerting a whole generation to the politicalaspects of IP.

Now some will say that the 60’s generation betrayed their ideals when they reached the age to obtain power themselves – so we shouldn’t expect the younger generation to be any better – BUT I think that is a false analysis. The 60’s generation did in fact fix most of the issues that they originally got worked up about (in fact most of them got fixed before they even got to the reins of power). What we complain about now is mainly their negative reaction to issues that have arisen since.

So expect the current 12-28’s to fix IP law – but be really stupid and conservative about the next big thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Thats it, after all this,, every country who has gone on to sign this, is americas bitch, whenever i think of them, im gonna assume their as corrupt as america, until proven otherwise, the ones who refuse to sign, i will remember.

What fucking right does america think it has to dictate, and thats what that letter is, another conutries policy, either america’s the biggest douche, or theres something here were not getting, either way fuck it, and fuck you america, id normally say american government at this point, because i know its not all americans, but im startint to get really fucking fed up with this shit, so again i say fuck you america for your fucking arogance

vukovar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s what happens when you accept aid and support from the US. Look at the history of the Baltic States – the US supported and backed their separation from Russia, backs their membership to NATO, etc. Estonia also hosted some of the secret CIA interrogation centers. The paymasters in Tallin are getting the bill for all that.

vukovar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes I am serious – the separation was supported politially. Goling completly off-topic – militarily, they were on their own. NATO didn’t even want to extend membership because the Baltic States hold no strategic value and have a piss-poor military. If Russia wanted to flatten them, it would mean NATO would have to intervene under the joint defense agreements. Running a proxy war there wasn’t going to happen, so they were SOL.

The US has a nasty habit of doing that – encouraging uprising and/or independence, but then not lifting a finger in the resulting chaos. See Iraq, former Yugoslavia.

US Senator McCain: Estonia Can Be Sure of US Support
3 August (BNS)

Senator John McCain, a former presidential candidate of the Republican Party of the United States, thanked Estonia during his Tuesday meeting with Estonian Defence Minister Mart Laar and confirmed that Estonia could be sure of US support.

During their meeting, Laar and McCain discussed the situation in the United States in connection with the debate over budget cuts and its potential effect on the defence budget. They also discussed co-operation opportunities between the United States and Estonia; the situations in Russia, Afghanistan and Belarus; and issues connected to cyber defence. Laar gave a longer overview of Estonia’s activity in the cyber defence sphere.

McCain noted Russia?s actions in the accusation of its neighbours but expressed hope that it would not give any major results. “We know Russia and we know you,” the senator said.

Laar said that the meeting passed in a warm atmosphere and the senator recalled his visit to Tallinn. “Our views are close and our aims similar. It is good for Estonia to have such a good friend in the US Congress,” Defence Minister Laar said.

Violated (profile) says:

East of here

I would expect Estonia take Hollywood more seriously when Hollywood stops providing media months or even years behind most other countries.

I have heard many time from people in this region that they simply cannot buy the media they want to. Hollywood prefers the richer countries while the poorer are neglected.

Well it is easy to say any law needs improvement but Estonia should do what is best for Estonia.

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Ah I Get It Now

The Big Content Industry is one Industry I would love to see DEAD !!!
I imagine they must have hidden away tons of emails & digitized info like “Accounting” jobs for big blockbusters they claim lost money, ETC.
When their DIRT is released to the General Public I will have to buy a nice Bottle of Wine and make a Toast to their Demise.
Lick my dog’s dirty Butt MAFIAA………….
and the day will come when this Country sees both Democrats & Republicans lose out to New Parties who better represent their Constituents.
I am usually Liberal and my brother is very far right Conservative.Both of us hate the way this Government is.Neither one of us are happy at the choices we have for 2012 Voting.

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