Norwegian file-sharers transferring illicit content on the Internet are about to find out that their identities aren’t as secure as they were previously. To date, the identities of these file-sharers has been kept secret as privacy rules have largely stopped copyright holders discovering real-life names behind IP addresses.
All that is set to change as Norway’s Post and Telecommunications Regulator has just decided that if a court feels there is good enough reason, it can force ISPs to hand over the names and addresses of illicit file-sharers to copyright holders. This means that they can now be pursued through the courts, or more likely, through “pay up or else” type threats.
The decision to allow courts to force ISPs to hand over file-sharers’ details relates to one particular case brought by Simonsen, a company that is licensed to investigate illegal file-sharing on the web. It’s believed that the decision will be applied to future requests of the same nature.
Post and Telecommunications Regulator director Willy Jensen said it was time to make online a “legitimate and structured place,” not of anarchy. “Cultural life on the web is important, so we can’t allow a situation where artists copyrights are broken,” he said.
Simonsen law firm works with notorious movie industry lawyer Espen Tondel, who previously sent a letter to ISPs ordering them, among other things, to disconnect alleged file-sharers. The ISPs refused to compromise their customers, but with this new decision it looks like they may be forced to do just that in future.
Interestingly, the decision of the telecoms regulator opposes the views of the Norwegian Minister of Education who believes that the music industry should embrace the Internet instead of fighting it. “All previous technology advances have led to fears that the older format would die. But TV did not kill radio, the Web did not kill the book, and the download is not going to kill music.” the Minister said earlier.