UK ISPs v. US ISPs (was RE: Network Level Content Blocking)

Roland Perry lists at
Tue Jun 12 10:42:50 UTC 2007

In article <18029.40210.45583.17990 at>, Barry Shein 
<bzs at> writes
>It'd be a lot easier if we could come up with separate terms for common 
>law common carrier versis CA1934 telecommunications common carrier.

What you are looking for is probably a US equivalent of the European 
Union's "Mere Conduit" law. It's a relatively new (doesn't have 
historical baggage) law, and has the advantage of in effect being 
negotiated with telcos and ISPs during the drafting. Additionally there 
are sensible definitions for the liability of intermediaries in the 
circumstances of caching and hosting.

The caching clause was particularly important from an operational point 
of view, because the threat was that a different approach (as initially 
promoted by rightsholders) would have either made caches an illegal 
beach of copyright, or mandated that cache owners get a licence from all 
copyright holders (perhaps through a central collecting agency set up 
for the purpose). Luckily[1], sense prevailed.

Topical to the current discussion, and also of crucial operational 
importance, a subsequent proposal in the UK for sysadmins to be 
individually licensed in order to obtain immunity[2] from reporting 
illegal material found on their systems, was lobbied into a more general 
amnesty for that kind of activity.

[1] Actually, no luck involved at all, just sustained lobbying via a 
network of EU-based trade associations.

[2] A bit like seeing a gun in the street and on handing it into the 
police being prosecuted for possession of an unlicenced firearm; 
strictly true (if having it in your hand is the definition of 
possession), but not in the public interest.
Roland Perry
Internet Policy Agency

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