Victory in Ireland

“No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination.”
Letter from James Joyce to his brother, December 1906

In case you were wondering about the lifestyles of the highly litigious, the “make me” side of the aisle amongst some ISPs that haven’t quite gotten the memo allows them to rationalize profiting from theft as long as humanly possible. Rules only apply if they are forced to comply, which at the moment, only involves litigation.

This is why I fully expect every graduated response “deal” made with ISPs as a group to result in some ISPs wanting to break off and distinguish themselves in the marketplace as hotbeds of piracy and “privacy” to protect their thieving users. You are seeing this now with Talk Talk in the UK defying the Digital Economy Act, and the Irish society IRMA experienced it with a “deal” they thought they made with the big Irish ISP, Eircom, whose executives believe that music piracy is good for rock stars: “[Dennis Curran, Eircom’s head of internet wrote in an internal memo] Piracy is a loaded term. Could we say ‘sharing‘- ‘piracy’ implies there’s something wrong with it….Think of it as helping the health and good living of rich cocaine sniffing rock stars by leaving them with less free money to spend on sex and drugs.”

Or as Fred von Lohman of the EFF told me once, “Artists will just have to learn to get along on less money.”

Contrast these condescending and extremist views with that of Serge Sasseville of Canadian communications giant Quebecor that public companies answer not only to CEOs, shareholders and creditors, but as “a good corporate citizen, [we] cannot remain insensitive to the piracy problems affecting the survival of content producers and rights holders.”

Readers of MTP will not be surprised to find that the Irish High Court, in the form of Mr. Justice Charleton, ruled that:

“The right to be identified with and to reasonably exploit one’s own original creative endeavour I regard as a human right. It is completely within the legitimate standing of Eircom to act, and to be seen to act, as a body, which upholds the law and Constitution. That is what the Court expects of both individuals and companies….The internet is only a means of communication.
It has not rewritten the legal rules of each nation through which it passes.

It is not an amorphous extraterrestrial body with an entitlement to norms that run counter to the fundamental principles of human rights. Since the early days of the internet, and increasingly as time has gone on, copyright material has been placed on world wide web by those with no entitlement to share it. There, it is downloaded by those who would normally have expected to pay for it.

Among younger people, so much has the habit grown up of downloading copyright material from the internet that a claim of entitlement seems to have arisen to have what is not theirs for free. [The internet] is not an amorphous extraterrestrial body with an entitlement to norms that run counter to the fundamental principles of human rights. There is nothing in the criminal or civil law which legalises that which is otherwise illegal simply because the transaction takes place over the internet.”

Any day is a good day when the law sounds more like Sasseville than von Lohman.

The thing to remember about the long, long line of cases where the von Lohmans and Lessigs of this world and their acolytes have done a brilliant job of making the losing argument is that however much self-gratification the plaintiffs lawyers get out of delaying the day of reckoning, artists who have to wait years for justice are forever harmed by it and the gigantic consumer electronics interests represented by these people continue to profit on the backs of artists during the pendency of the case (let’s call them “Mollywood” types, for short). (Not to forget the bullying that the heirs of James Joyce received at their hands.)

But one thing that rings crystal clear in the IRMA case is that the Court is going to protect the rights of artists.

The human rights of artists, as reflected in many, many human rights documents binding on most countries of the world.

It’s about time.

See also: Artist Rights are Human Rights

See also: Google Funds Lessig in Case Against Joyce Heir