Ireland Signs An “Irish SOPA” Into Law

The Irish government has signed a SOPA-like law that will force ISPs to block access to websites that contain content that the entertainment industry claims is violating copyright. Music label EMI recently sued the Irish government for failing to pass the law.

Irish Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock insists that the final version of the bill is limited compared to earlier proposals. Sherlock also mentioned that they took guidance from recent EU Court of Justice rulings that say that ISPs shouldn’t have to be proactive about blocking.

Sherlock is also trying to say that he’s launching the “next stage” of the process to review copyright in Ireland with the goal of “removing barriers to innovation.” The end result of this being signed into law is that the government is moving in different directions at once.

What makes me angry about a law like this is that it is purely only in the interests of the entertainment industry. If SOPA was a U.S. law in 2004, then it is likely we would never a website like YouTube being created in February 2005. The entertainment industry hated YouTube so much that Viacom threatened to sue them for a $1 billion since they hosted clips of TV shows and music videos. Now the entertainment industry is working directly with YouTube. Sometimes the entertainment industry does not know what is good for them.

In the early 1980s, the film companies in the U.S. fought to ban the VCR because of concerns about copyright violations too. Shortly after that, the entertainment industry made a ton of money because of the VCR. Just think about how many VHS movies have been purchased since then.

The Irish government made a terrible choice and I feel bad for their citizens already. Looks like we won’t be seeing much Internet innovation come out of that country any time soon.

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at
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