Sunday, May 18, 2008

BitTorrents: A Legal Issue Around the World

ISPs in Europe are a little friendlier than in North America ... or are they?
Mar 29 2008

by KathrynV

There has been a lot of interest in BitTorrent use and throttling in recent weeks. Major United States and Canadian ISPs (ahem … Comcast, Bell Canada) are being closely watched by consumers interested in stopping their throttling practices. However, this issue isn’t limited to North America. TorrentFreak, which reports on BitTorrent issues from around the world, has had four reports in the past two days of news from four different countries.

One of the biggest BitTorrent sites that is battling the ISPs right now is, of course, The Pirate Bay. An ISP in Denmark was legally forced to shut down access to the tracker but Swedish ISPs are refusing to do the same. They are using the argument that blocking the tracker would amount to wiretapping of their customer’s online activity which is, of course, illegal.

Major businesses and organizations, however, have a vested interested in preventing file-sharing and are active around the globe in trying to prevent it. One such effort can be seen in Norway where a lawyer for the MPAA has asked ISPs to send a letter to file-sharing customers threatening to disconnect their service. The ISPs have so far refused to do so.

While these cases indicate that ISPs in Europe are more helpful to BitTorrent users than ISPs in North America, there are other cases which suggest that the case might not be so clear cut. For example, a BitTorrent issue in Iceland was simply dismissed by the court rather than being decided in favor of either party. And the British equivalent of RIAA, BPI, is reportedly planning to clamp down on BitTorrent use in the UK.

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