Earlier this year, we wrote about how the Norwegian Consumer Council, an independent organization financed by the Norwegian government, was telling people not to sign letters
the recording industry was demanding ISPs send to users, which would put liability for file sharing on those users without any sort of due process. Now the NCC is back suggesting a special independent committee
to handle copyright infringement cases. From what's written, it sounds like it would act as a separate process for copyright holders to bring charges of copyright infringement, that avoids an expensive and overcrowded court systems, while still allowing individuals due process and a guarantee of other basic rights. The NCC proposes that this is a much better solution than, say, cutting off accused file sharers with no due process.
The idea definitely sounds a lot better than what's out there now -- but there could be unintended consequences as well. Here in the US, for example, we set up a special Federal Appeals court for patent lawsuits (CAFC), because of complaints about patent lawsuits clogging up courts where judges knew little about patent law, leading to bad outcomes. However, what happened was that CAFC became dominated by former patent attorneys (if not in numbers, in terms of influence) who significantly shifted the scope of patent law towards patent holders. In setting up a special court or arbitration system to deal with copyright infringement, there's a risk that it, too, could become dominated by interests focused solely on strengthening copyright law. While I definitely think it's a more interesting and productive proposal than most others out there, it's worth wondering if there would be unintended consequences. It still seems like the better long-term solution is for copyright holder to simply start embracing better business models.