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Irish SOPA is now law

Defective move confirmed by Sherlock
Thu Mar 01 2012, 10:53

ITS BIGGER BIG BROTHER LAW might still be in the wilderness, but Ireland has pushed through its controversial Irish SOPA legislation.

Junior minister Sean Sherlock has confirmed that the online copyright infringement tackling legislation is law as of yesterday afternoon.

Called the European Union Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2012, the statutory instrument gives copyright holders the right to request court injunctions against internet service providers (ISPs) and social networks that host someone else's material without their permission, among other things. Hacktivist group Anonymous has a history of protesting against the Irish legislation.

This is perhaps similar to the right for media firms to request blocks on web sites, by order of the court, but does not tally against a recent European decision that it is unlawful to block web sites and content.

"I believe that in Ireland we must build on our very substantial achievements in the creative and digital media industry, and become a model of international best practice for innovation in this area," said Sherlock in a statement on the Irish Labour web site.

"On many previous occasions I have outlined the reasons why it is necessary for us to proceed to sign this Statutory Instrument in order to ensure compliance with our obligations under EU law."

Sherlock acknowledged that there are critics, or "diverse interests" as he has it, and that he and the government are open to discussion.

"As there are clearly many diverse interests, it is important that interested parties come together and work in a constructive way to map the path forward," he said, as he explained that a consultation paper on rules has been launched.

"The challenge now is to examine what measures we can take to develop Ireland's laws in this area in such a way as to provide the greatest possible encouragement for innovation in the creative and digital industries to take place here," he added.

"This is a very complex area of law... My ambition to make Ireland a model of international best practice in this area will not be easily achieved, and as this debate develops I urge all interested parties on all sides to come together and work in a constructive and realistic way to the benefit of all." µ


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