Norway copyright changes hand power to rights owners

02-07-2013

Amendments to Norway’s copyright law will give rights holders the power to monitor Internet activity and order the government to investigate suspected copyright infringements.  

The changes to the Copyright Act went live on Monday, July 1, following their initial signing off by the government in May.

As part of the changes, companies will be able to order the scanning of suspected copyright infringements and also target Internet Service Providers (ISPs).  

Previously, only a single licensed company had permission to do use these measures, but now any rights holder or trade group will have the power, providing they inform the country’s data protection authority first.  

“If you are an entity and feel you have IP rights and are the subject of piracy, what the law allows you to do is to start collecting suspected Internet addresses.  At the point when you have enough evidence you can then approach the court to get the ISP to reveal their identity,” explained Monica Syrdal, partner at Oslo-based law firm Hjort.

“Once the entity has that address it’s up to them whether they want to bring a copyright case to the court or write to the person behind the website,” she added.

Norway music rights group TONO and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry are among the companies that called for changes before the amendments were set out in May.

It is thought Norway is one of the first countries to hand extra powers to rights holders.

“The ideal solution would have been if the public authorities (i.e. the police) would enforce the rights of copyright holders, but as it has become evident that the Norwegian police do not have the resources to make copyright violations into an area of priority, the second best solution is to allow the copyright holders to enforce the rights themselves,” said Oystein Flagstad, partner and attorney at Advokatfirmaet Grette DAA.  

“In my opinion, the rules are balanced, in that the legislation will not enable a copyright holder to invoke the rules in case of minor copyright violations, but only in more serious cases,” he added.

However, questions have been raised over whether the amendments will be able to stall all forms of online piracy.

Flagstad said: “It appears to be designed to serve as a tool for rights holders to intervene against illegal file sharing by the use of peer-to-peer technology and web sites.

“It is still an open question whether the rights holders will be able to use the legislation as a tool against copyright infringements that employ different technology, such as cloud-based storage and sharing of infringing material.

“I believe it would have been better if the legislator would have drafted the amendments in such a way that had been more robust against technology changes.”

The law also allows rights holders to apply to courts to demand that sites be completely blocked by Norway’s ISPs.

According to Syrdal, it is expected that the music industry will go after ISPs, including the country’s biggest provider, Telenor, as it tries to clamp down on file-sharing sites such as The Pirate Bay.

“In practice, if an ISP is ordered by a court to block a website, they would likely comply as it is illegal to not carry out an order from the court,” she added.

Telenor and TONO did not respond to WIPR’s request for comment. 

piracy, ISP, copyright, Norway