Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dutch equally at risk of Internet censorship


I find it strange that the Dutch wikipedia has not organized a similar protest at the court decision in the Hague against the Internet access providers XS4ALL (pronounced access for all) and Ziggo. The action, brought about the copyright Foundation Brein, means that these providers have 10 days in which to block  access to the Swedish Pirate Bay site plus a number of other domains and subdomains supplied by Brein. 

What concerns me the most is that the judge gave Brein the right to add to this list without having to go back to court again. XS4ALL says they will appeal. 

I'm not advocating piracy of content. But I do believe that the Brein Foundation has imposed an unacceptable level of control over what I can and cannot see. This is the same complaint that has closed Wikipedia in English today. This sets a major precedent. 

If Brein can do it, may the the rights organisations BUMA/STEMRA as well?  In my eyes, BUMA lost all credibility following a corruption scandal last month. At least in that case the public broadcaster Powned did a piece of original investigative journalism and recorded a conversation between BUMA board member Jochem Gerrits and the lawyer of composer Melchior Rietveldt who claims BUMA owes him at least €1m in lost copyright fees. In the course of interview, Gerrits offered to raise the matter in return for keeping a third of the money to be paid out. 

It seems incredible that the Dutch government is able to grab some of the headlines with an international debate on Internet freedom held together with Google last year. Yet when a judge in the "city of justice"  as The Hague likes to promote itself, passes this ludicrous finding there is no comment from the government at all. Nor press or media attention on anything like the scale we're seeing about SOPA.  It negates most of what was in Rosenthal's speech speech last May. The silence is doing a lot to destroy the guarantees that Holland has been dishing out of Internet freedom if you host your content on servers in the Netherlands. 

Bizarre in the extreme. I'm furious!
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