Bulgarian Police ordered ISPs to block US-based torrent tracker
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On 16 March 2007 the Bulgarian special forces for combating organized crime
ordered the major ISPs to filter the access to and from the web site
arenabg.com, a torrent tracker hosted in the US, claiming that it was the
source of copyright infringement activities. Only three big ISPs accepted to
do so while the others considered the action as illegal.
The ordinance was withdrawn by the Police after a few days, following a lot
of criticism from lawyers that questioned the legality of such an action.
EDRI-member ISOC Bulgaria was the only organization of Internet users to
publicly criticize these actions.
The police also arrested the owner of the web site who was however released
by the court as the police had not given any evidence that “the defendant
has caused any copyright infringement”.
One of the biggest points of the discussion was whether the file sharing and
web traffic filtering technologies are legally acceptable.
In her article “Technology vs Law”, Nelly Ognyanova, lecturer in Media Law
at the Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, considers that “there is no
liability for the creation and dissemination of technologies, which have a
lawful use. There is a liability for breaking the law.”
The Bulgarian authorities have placed the equality sign between torrents and
piracy, while actually torrents are useful ensuring a fast and efficient
communication. The fact that copyrighted files could be transmitted through
them does not make them illegal as instruments. The file sharing act is the
illegal one not the technology used for that.
Ognyanova also thinks the protection of privacy is not less important than
the protection of intellectual property and that there must be a
proportionality between the limitations of one’s rights and the gravity of
one supposed acts.
She also pointed out that ” The Internet providers are the least ones to
have a responsibility (for Internet content) if they have any at all.
Nevertheless, the Bulgarian providers have been ordered to filter the access
to the website arenabg.com, hosted in the United States.”
The Bulgarian Interior Minister wanted to link the Police acts with the
fight against piracy and protection of the copyrighted works. He also
claimed that : “Limiting access to websites is unpopular measure in Bulgaria
but widely used in Europe.”
The Commission on Legal Matters of the European Parliament adopted on 20
March 2007 a draft of the IPRED directive, but the “commercial scale
infringement”, that previously included the IPRs (Intellectual Property
Rights) infringements by private users for personal use was excluded.
Nelly Ognyanova – Technology vs. Law (30.03.2007)
Nelly Ognyanova – A Global Initiative, Suspicious Methods (30.03.2007)
Internet Providers in Bulgaria pushed to limit unlicensed content
IPRED2 adopted by the EP Legal Affairs committee (28.03.2007)