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European Union: It's Okay to Cut Off Pirates' Internet, After All


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by Paul Lilly

File sharers in France who get caught downloading pirated content could lose internet service for up to a year, and that's okay with the European Parliament, which dropped an amendment to its forthcoming telecoms legislation that would have protected citizens in such scenarios.

"Any such measures liable to restrict those fundamental rights or freedoms may only be taken in exceptional circumstances...and shall be subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, including effective judicial protection and due process," the dropped amendment reads.

Going forward, individual countries have the green light to ask ISPs to disconnect users believed to be software pirates, and do so without any kind of court order.

This has been a hot topic in Europe, and at the core of the issue is whether or not Internet access can be considered a fundamental right. UK prime minister Gordon Brown put Internet access on the same plane as gas, water, and electricity in terms of entitlement, but there's been recent pressure to push through anti-piracy legislation. According to research firm Forrester, 14 percent of European Internet users are involved in illegal file-sharing. However, Forrester doesn't think the solution lies in tougher legislation.

"Piracy will not be solved by legislation alone. Without compelling services, piracy will not be beaten," said Mark Mulligan, an analyst for Forrester

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