Norwegians told to keep shtum on file sharing

April 4, 2008 | 08:45

Tags: #copyright #file-sharing #illegal #norway #sue

Norwegian law firm Simonsen Advokatfirma DA has been sending letters to ISPs in the country to be forwarded on to users accused of sharing copyright material, and the Norwegian Consumer Council isn't happy.

The letters – of which there are at least three hundred so far – identify the users by IP address, and accuse them of sharing copyright video via peer-to-peer networks. If the ISPs cooperate and give the letters to their customers, the recipient is asked to sign and return the letter as a promise never to do it again on threat of legal action. However, that doesn't get them off the hook: should an individual be daft enough to sign and return the letter, it makes them liable for both former and future file-sharing activity on the identified IP address – even if carried out by a different member of the household.

Hans Marius Graasvold, an officer of the NCC, is warning people that to sign would be an act of lunacy. In a statement to press, Graasvold described the letters of depriving the customers of their right to due process, and placing them in a state of legal uncertainty that leaves them open to future lawsuits – with the signed letter being the star witness for the prosecution. Graasvold describes the threat of disconnection on unproven accusations of file sharing as being a “violation of that person's human right to participate in society,” while acknowledging the need to respect copyright law.

The Norwegian ISP industry association isn't too impressed with this turn of events, either. The group is advising its members to ditch the letters in the nearest bin and not to forward anything from the law firm to any of their customers.

The attitude of the NCC is a far cry from similar cases here in the UK, with Graasvold stating that alleged violation of copyright law is a matter that “should be addressed by courts and courts alone!

Do you believe that Graasvold is right and that accusations of this nature are a matter for the court, or is Simonsen just trying to frighten file sharers into being good netizens? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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