The European Parliament has, for the fifth time this year, voted against the “three strikes” law, and this time it’s for good. Earlier today, members of Parliament voted to retain amendment (138/46), which states that restrictions to the fundamental rights and freedoms of Internet users can only be put in place after a decision by judicial authorities. The vote was a landslide: 407 in favor and only 57 against.
However, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) recently released the yearly Special 301 Report that added Canada and Spain to the list of countries that fail to protect intellectual property. Downloading torrents for personal use is perfectly legal in Spain, and though the EU has voted to essentially protect file sharers’ rights, the United States says that 2 billion tracks were downloaded in Spain in 2008, which is causing the USTR to push for more severe legislation.
In the report, the USTR calls for “notice-and-takedown” procedures to be used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which would cut internet connections of repeat file sharers. But with the EU vote, that kind of enforcement could take some time to become reality. France is attempting to implement the “three strikes law” supported by President Nicolas Sarkozy, but Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net, explains that:
“It started with the declaration of [EU] Commissioner Viviane Reding considering access to Internet as a fundamental right. The massive re-adoption of amendment 138/46 (…) is an even stronger statement. These two elements alone confirm that the French ‘three strikes’ scheme, HADOPI, is dead already.”
It seems as though the EU is sending a clear message: individual rights of Internet users are more important than the protection of intellectual property. As we’ve mentioned before, there are alternatives to file sharing for listening to free music. But these types of laws would affect everyone, file sharer or not, as they require ISPs to monitor Internet usage in order to find which people are breaching copyright.
What is more important to you: protecting intellectual property, or internet freedom?