"Other suppliers clearly support Tele2, and they are even willing to support the company financially in a lawsuit," said Ib Tolstrup, head of the Danish industry group. Photo: Torben Klint

Danish telecom industry teams up against IFPI

The Danish telecom industry is promising financial and legal support to Tele2's fight against a court order to shut down access to The Pirate Bay.

The Danish Telecommunication Industries Association is promising financial and legal support to Danish telephone company Tele2, which Monday decided to fight a court order to block the much debated Swedish Internet site Pirate Bay.

The decision is viewed as a sign that Danish ISPs are tired of the uncertainty about when they are required to block access to parts of the internet. The uncertainty has arisen after the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has convinced a Danish court that Tele2 was assisting in copyright infringement by providing access to The Pirate Bay. Tele2, as well as other ISPs that have come under pressure, maintain they are blind to what their customers transmit on their networks and should not be responsible for policing content.

Other ISPs support Tele2 because the collective industry wants clarification in the matter, according to Ib Tolstrup, head of the Danish industry group.

"Other suppliers clearly support Tele2, and they are even willing to support the company financially in a lawsuit," said Tolstrup.

Some companies committed themselves to doing so at a meeting in the industry association Monday while others needed to discuss it with their management before making any promises.

ISPs on uncertain ground
Competitors support Tele2 because they see serious fundamental problems in the Pirate Bay case.

"There are many uncertainties, and we need clarification now," said Tolstrup, referring to two other cases that have also influenced the industry's decision.

In one of those, the Danish Supreme Court ordered the largest Danish internet supplier, TDC, to close down internet connections if users distibuted bootleg copies.

The other case concerned access to the much debated Russian music store, Allpfpm3.com. In this case, the industry chose to follow the enforcement court's decision without a fight. According to Tolstrup, the Pirate Bay case pushes the limit even further.

"This case concerns access to a search engine, and that is even more far-fetched," said Tolstrup.

Allowed in all other EU countries
He explained that Denmark is the only European country which interprets the EU's Infosec directive this way.

"All other EU countries allow what has now been found illegal in Denmark," he said.

He does not believe that this is only a legal decision and wants politicians involved as well.

"This is a very far-reaching problem. It attacks everything internet suppliers are able to offer their customers. The next step could be shutting down Google," said Tolstrup.

IFPI welcomes the court case
Meanwhile, the record companies' industry association welcomed Tele2's announcement about a lawsuit over Pirate Bay.

The association finds it reasonable to clarify the legal boundaries in the Pirate Bay case in a court of law.

"If there are any doubts as to where the legal boundaries lie, it is a good idea to try the case in a court of law," said Jakob Plesner, the IFPI's attorney.

Yet, the IFPI would have liked to see the case end here. In their point of view, the Danish Supreme Court has already decided on the problem.

But the IFPI does not consider the upcoming confirmatory action problematic, he says.

"On the contrary, we hope that it will contribute to clarifying the legal basis".

Plesner does not wish to guess at when the legal procedures might be brought to an end.

"But is is not going to happen in the immediate future. It may take a good while," he says.

The order of the enforcement court initially has to be tried in a district court. Subsequently, it is possbile to appeal the decision to the Danish High Court and then -- if the decision is considered to be of general public importance -- to the Danish Supreme Court.

However, the IFPI does not expect the case to go that far. The association considers the legal basis of the blocking very clear.

"We believe that the legal basis is clear and that the Danish Supreme Court has already made its decision," says Plesner, referring to the previous judgment of the Supreme Court against TDC.

Plesner was not yet able to say whether the IFPI will request injunctions against other Danish ISPs so that others are also ordered to block customers' access to Pirate Bay.

Thus, at this point, only Danish Tele2 customers are unable to access Pirate Bay.

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