Irish Gov't Trying To Sneak Through Massive Copyright Law Changes Via Questionable Legal Process

from the this-won't-look-good dept

Looks like the lobbyists have gotten to another government. Conor Lalor points us to the news that the Irish government is using a really questionable process to rush through massive copyright law changes today. As you may recall, last fall, a court recognized that Irish copyright law didn't mandate three strikes. This is perfectly sensible. Three strikes is a really dangerous concept that involves limiting basic due process, and turning ISPs into copyright cops for an entertainment industry that refuses to adapt.

However, the Irish government has responded to that legal ruing by trying to sneak three strikes into the law with no notice and no public discussion. Apparently, the current government is in its "final days," and the current group of politicians is pushing to get this done before the government changes over. Of course, a huge change to copyright law is supposed to involve public discussion and debate and a real vote. But that's not happening here. I don't fully understand the way the Irish government works, but this sure sounds like trying to sneak a massive copyright law change through a backdoor loophole:
The legislation is expected to be sanctioned by the present Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Mary Hanafin TD before Friday.

A statutory instrument is secondary legislation -- only the Oireachtas can pass primary legislation -- and as such is the only way changes can be made to legislation in such a tight timeframe.
Considering how controversial three strikes is, it's rather stunning that elected official in Ireland would sneak through such an anti-consumer change. It's also going to massively damage the view of Ireland as a "tech hub," since this sort of law is simply a transfer payment type of law, passing off one industry's failures to adapt on the tech industry. The article also quotes an Irish law expert who notes how this move seems to violate basic procedural rules for establishing new laws in Ireland:
Internet law expert TJ McIntyre says the legislation is premature in light of the Taoiseach promising a review of Irish copyright for the digital age. He said it is also premature in terms of a case taking place in the European Court of Justice between Belgian publishers group SABAM V Tiscali (Scarlet).

"What's happening in Europe is similar litigation over the obligation of ISPs to conduct filtering and the question is what does European law require regarding injunctions against ISPs?

"To my mind, you can't legislate in Ireland until we've seen the judgment from Europe.

"There are also procedural issues -- normally, if you legislate you have to have completed a regulatory impact assessment beforehand, as well as a public consultation. Also, if there's a breach found in a law then it would be normal to discuss it with the European Commission," McIntyre said.
Of course, when it comes to the entertainment industry, they never seem to care about actually following the rules in order to get their favored legislation passed. In the meantime, could those who usually chime in supporting everything the entertainment industry has to say explain what's wrong with actually going through the normal process to put a law like this in place? Is the industry really so afraid of allowing public debate on this issue that they have to sneak it through backdoor loopholes?

Filed Under: copyright, ireland, three strikes

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  1. icon
    jilocasin (profile), 24 Feb 2011 @ 8:48am

    I'm assuming that last question was rhetorical?

    I can only assume that the last question in the article was purely rhetorical.

    "Is the industry really so afraid of allowing public debate on this issue that they have to sneak it through backdoor loopholes?"

    Otherwise the obvious answer would be Yes.

    Anyone who is not directly involved in the industry (on the receiving end of the proposed payola) and who was paying even the most remote attention would see this for what it is;

    A shameless attempt to change the law so that other people would be forced to prop up their increasingly obsolete business model.

    If people in government would stop thinking according to their bank accounts and actually started doing what's best for their constituents and country then this would be a non-issue.

    Unfortunately we seem to have progressed deep into the era of Corporatocracy, government by the corporation for the corporation.

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