Wednesday, June 29, 2005

P2P Monitoring by French Rights Organisation

In April the French Data Protection Authority CNIL authorized the software lobbying organisation SELL to track and monitor file exchanges on P2P networks. Now SELL's sister organisation for copyrightsholders, SACEM, is likely to obtain the same permission. It will use the company Advestigo, which has asked CNIL for an authorization to collect IP addresses and send anti-piracy messages to file-sharers.

SACEM's action would consist of three phases:
  1. both up- and downloaders will be located and receive an automatic message to inform them of the illegal character of their acts (that's illegal in SACEM'S view when it comes to downloading)
  2. if these users continue their infringing activities SACEM may ask a judge to order their ISP to terminate the subscription
  3. after that the SACEM may file a complaint against the file-sharers with the authorities, which can lead to a criminal investigation and prosecution
This is all not very new and surprising. More and more the push for P2P monitoring seems to overcome privacy protections. In France SELL provides a precedent for SACEM. In Sweden the Data Protection Board ruled that the national anti-piracy organisation broke data protection laws by collecting IP addresses, but it also made clear that private organisations can apply for an exemption to the data act. Dutch anti-piracy organisation BREIN already collects IP addresses and sends warning messages to file-sharers. Authorization of these activities is taking the first privacy hurdle in the longer run to the second: obtaining the identities behind the IP addresses. It now seems like the first hurdle gets lower and lower to the benefit of the second. In the end there may be little privacy protection to jump over before reaching the finish line: a lawsuit for copyright infringement.
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Thru WeBlogs P2P & NTINC [French]

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