Three strikes stumbles, again

The European Commission's proposed telecoms reforms, which include the three strikes proposals for abusive downloaders, will now have to go into the conciliation process after the European Parliament again refused to discard an amendment that would force governments to get court permission before disconnecting illegal downloaders of copyright material.

MEPs in September put forward an amendment saying: "No restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities" – and when negotiations on a diluted version of this failed at the last moment, MEPs again voted through the amendment in this form.

This leaves in doubt various national plans – notably in France and UK – to have ISPs police downloaders and disconnect persistent offenders.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Pirate Party, which wants to reform copyright law, could ride a wave of discontent over control of computer file-sharing all the way into the European Parliament in June. The jail sentences handed out last month to the four Swedish men behind The Pirate Bay have given a boost to the namesake party among young voters in Sweden, a recent opinion poll showed.

A poll in Sweden ahead of the Europe-wide vote in June showed the party, which is not linked to the Web site though some of its views coincide with those voiced by the Pirate Bay defendants, winning 5.1 percent of the Swedish vote. That would be enough to secure the party, which wants to deregulate copyright, abolish the patent system and a decrease the level of surveillance of the Internet, a seat in the European parliament.

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