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Complying With the Law, or Running for Cover?

While a lot changes day to day in the SEO world, most of it is of far too little interest or substance to report on, so occasionally we’ll allow ourselves the flexibility to get off topic.

In Canada we have some insanely bad internet service. I’m talking about all things considered, performance, price, and options.

In my province some communities have been noted as having the highest density (per-capita) of internet connected households in the world, yet we have some of the worst internet providers imaginable.

The two biggest names, Shaw and Telus, are well known for imposing caps and disconnecting repeated offenders of copyright violations.

A smaller brand of ISP, TekSavvy, has been making inroads for years, and offers two unique perks:
- Unlimited internet plans (no data caps)
- Data use between 2am -> 8am is ignored

Both those perks are HUGE selling points for folks that love to fill their drives with movies, music, and other wonders of the internet.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise then that Voltage Pictures is specifically chasing after TekSavvy customers for violations of copyright on several movies.

TekSavvy is in a legal Hurt Locker

Initially TekSavvy refused legal action to hand over client information requested by Voltage Pictures, stating that the privacy of it’s clients came first.

This drew TekSavvy into court with Voltage Pictures for the purposes of forcing them to relinquish information on their subscribers.

Today we’re now hearing that Voltage Pictures successfully intimidated TekSavvy into agreeing with the ‘motion for discovery’ after it became clear that the legal indemnity of the ISP was coming into question due to the assistance TekSavvy is providing it’s clients, who are potentially criminals that owe reparations.

For you see, this year, on June 29th, Canada implemented the Copyright Modernization Act which essentially separates the actions of the clientele from the interests of the ISP.

To put that into Hollywood Logic:

Just because your users download cars, it does not mean that the ISP is a used car dealership..

If TekSavvy had continued to block access to their private client records, they felt it would make them liable for the crimes of it’s clients.

And yet in 2004 when BMG music went after Canada’s largest ISPs, Rogers, Bell, Videotron, Telus, and Shaw, with an almost identical request for client information to proceed with legal action, they lost in court, and in appeals.

Thus many people are questioning if TekSavvy really should have backed down.

It’s not all over yet however!

The ‘Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic’ or CIPPIC filed a letter with the court explaining that more time was needed for both the potential defendants, and for preparation of an application intervene in the motion.

The court agreed, after much protest from Voltage Pictures’ prosecutors, and will grant the adjournment until Jan 14th 2013.

TekSavvy still has the option to change it’s mind, and at least 2000 of it’s customers are motivated into pressuring them to do so.

Currently the TekSavvy forum (private/members only) has a single thread on the issue, and it’s pretty quiet, almost too quiet?

I’m no lawyer but I doubt we want any precedent in terms of ISPs divulging private details of it’s clients to companies wishing to prosecute.

SEO news blog post by @ 12:05 pm on December 18, 2012


 

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