Following in the footsteps of the UK, Finland is preparing a new piece of legislation that will make it mandatory for Internet providers to warn customers who download music and movies without consent from copyright holders. The proposal is meant to cut down piracy in Finland but both pro and anti-piracy outfits have their doubts abouts its potential effectiveness.
Finland is known as one of the most forward thinking countries when it comes to the Internet. Earlier this year Finland made a broadband connection a fundamental right of its citizens where every Fin has the right to at least a 1Mbps Internet connection.
In common with many other countries around the world, Finland also has to deal with an active pro-copyright lobby that wants the local Government to crack down on widespread Internet piracy. According to Elisa and Sonera, two of the country’s largest ISPs, the total number of file-sharers in Finland lies well above 50 percent.
To deal with this piracy problem the Finnish Government has now drafted new legislation that would require Internet providers to send warning letters to those who are suspected of illicit downloading. In this scenario, ISPs would be notified of possible infringements by investigation outfits hired by the entertainment industries.
The legislation is similar to that of other countries in Europe, such as the UK and France. The only difference is that the warning letters in Finland will have no consequences at all. They merely serve as an educational message, or a threat, depending on how one interprets the letters.
Because of this lack of enforcement power the local anti-piracy outfit is not too excited about the Government’s plans.
“The problem is that there are no repercussions with this model. A person could get ten letters about illegally sharing material online, and that’s it. This model is ineffective in our opinion,” said Antti Kotilainen, the director of the Anti-piracy Centre.
Finnish Pirate Party chairman Pasi Palmulehto, who generally disagrees with his counterpart at the Anti-piracy Centre, doesn’t think much of the proposal either, but for different reasons.
“This whole warning letter proposal is a clear sign of how far our government is on copyright organizations’ leash. The proposed law itself has no function at all. One can receive 50 warning letters without any consequences,” Pasi Palmulehto told us.
According to The Pirate Party chairman the letters would violate the privacy of Internet users as it encourages private organizations to spy on Internet subscribers. Besides that, the Pirate Party sees the proposal as a waste of money where, ironically, the entertainment industry will cut into their own profits since they have to pay the companies that will have to spy on Internet users.
“Most likely the warning letters themselves will have no effect on most Internet users, but those who actually get scared will probably start using secure and proxy/vpn connections,” Pasi Palmulehto said. According to the Pirate Party chairman there is only one way to deal with Internet piracy.
“There is no need for alternatives to the warning letter process. It is a complete fail and the public is better off without it. The only real alternative is also a long term improvement and that is to legalize non-profit file-sharing,” he said.
Despite the criticism from opposing sides, the proposal will be voted on in the Finnish Parliament in the near future. If it passes it could be signed into law before the and of the year.