Ralph Lauren, Internet Law & Freezing Public Expression Without Due Process

Back to the legal issues around Ralph Lauren’s initial attempt to stop Boing Boing from distributing the ad controversy photo of Filippa Hamilton, Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow walks us through the copyright issues around what the Internet calls “fair use” in America and “fair dealing” elsewhere.

It is the norm for ISPs to remove anything and everything on receipt of a legal notice. A group of Oxford internet researchers tried an experiment with this a few years ago, posting copies of John Stuart Mill’s 1869 On Liberty on a variety of European ISPs’ servers, and then sending notices to the ISPs purporting to come from Mill’s copyright holders (Mill’s copyrights are nonexistent, having returned to the public domain more than a century ago) and demanding that On Liberty be taken down. All but one of the ISPs in the study complied. via Guardian UK

Doctorow argues that the notice-and-takedown system – a feature of copyright law the world round, thanks to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties that require it – has become an easily abused, cheap, and virtually risk-free way of effecting mass censorship on the flimsiest pretence. There is no due process.

Today, the entertainment industry supports a “three strikes” system, whereby someone who is accused of copyright violations on three occasions would lose his internet connection, along with all other members of the household.

To all of us involved in the Ralph Lauren debate, such an action devoid of any due process measures is terrifying in countries purporting to be a democracy. Without defending the unlawful downloading of music, I say that restraining one’s Internet access is paramount to killing one’s capacity for self-expression in today’s world. Anne

Read: Corporate bullying on the net must be resisted The Guardian

Does Ralph Lauren Have the Legal American Right to End Public Conversation on a Public Ad? Anne in Smart Sensuality