Thursday 10 May 2012

The Hague censors political party in the name of copyright protection

It’s no secret that European governments are banding together against file sharing websites. Just last month, (joining neighboring countries) UK courts ordered ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay. But the Dutch have just taken these efforts a step further. In early May, a high court in The Hague has ordered ISPs to block user access to the file-sharing site. But here’s where things get interesting. In a move that can only be described as a flagrant violation of free speech, courts in the Netherlands have also ordered the burgeoning Pirate Party to take down instructions for circumventing the ISPs blocking measures.

According to the Dutch Pirate Party Blog:

In point ii) of the verdict the Pirate Party is ordered ‘to cease & desist presenting direct links to other TPB dedicated proxies.’
This prohibition seems to cover the whole * domain. We have to comb every inch of our site, including our blog, to make sure we have no links to sites such as (Dutch news weblog) or (Dutch law weblog). If we would want to try and risk €10.000, we could try and see what exactly is meant by ‘direct links’.
Point v) bids te Pirate Party ‘to cease & desist placing lists with internet addresses which can be used to circumvent the block of TPB, on her subdomain’
Apparantly it is now forbidden to direct people to the Tor project’s download page, or even the Opera browser’s page.

Nobody here at SumRando is going to argue that illegal file-sharing is acceptable. But it should go without saying that violating basic rights like freedom of expression in order to enforce copyrights is wildly unacceptable. Blocking access to websites like the Pirate Bay is debatable, but censoring a fast-growing political party isn’t. 

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