Monday, March 14, 2005

Dutch ISPs Forward Cease & Desist Letters

I posted about this Friday, and now it's on the AP news wire from Winnipeg to Cincinnati: Dutch ISPs agree to help in crackdown on downloaders (that's Winnipeg). The title does not capture what's going on. The ISPs actually decided to forward cease & desist letter of the anti-piracy organisation BREIN (English: brain) to warn their customers of possible lawsuits. They did not hand over customer's names or addresses, which would take a court case. At least, I hope so, because this cooperation smells fishy and goes a little too easy for my taste. As I somewhat expected, only XS4ALL declines to cooperate:
"They never even asked us," said spokeswoman Judith van Erven. "I guess they know where we stand." She said XS4ALL, pronounced "Acess for All," was "not an enforcement arm of the entertainment industry."
The AP story also brings new life to the overstated claim that the Dutch Supreme Court has decided in 2003 that file-sharing software is legal in the Netherlands. It's a bit more subtle, still I will put it crudely: after a Court of Appeals dismissed a claim against KaZaA to alter its software so it could only be used for non-infringing uses (deemed impossible), the prosecuting party (a collecting society) asked for a prohibition of the dissemination of the KaZaA software. This last request was rejected by the Court of Appeals and appealed, but the Supreme Court did not even come to answer it on procedural grounds (Supreme Court decision, Dutch). So, there may be some answer on the legality of file-sharing software, it is not conclusive.

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