Copyright enforcement measures using providers include website blocking, disconnecting the website or the user, subscriber information disclosure, and notice or graduated response mechanisms. There are also dozens of other options for enforcement, and the IPR holder may select the optimal one(s). In international settings, this can be further optimised by the choice of jurisdiction, the applicable law, and characterisation of the infringement. These provide opportunities for gaming the system.
Enforcement proceedings are problematic because typically only the copyright holder and possibly the provider are represented in court. Nobody is responsible for arguing for the users or website operators. The court should take their interests into account on its own motion. Unfortunately, many courts have not yet recognised this responsibility. Even this dual role as both the defender of unrepresented parties and judge is less than ideal and improvement is called for.
All the enforcement mechanisms must be compatible with EU fundamental rights, as well as the national ones. A proportionality evaluation procedure is suggested, consisting of identifying the context, the interests of different parties, and applicable principles as well as formulating the evaluation criteria and applying them in a proportionality test. In the test, the legitimacy of the objective, suitability for the purpose, necessity and balancing need to be critically assessed. The underlying goal of copyright enforcement has implications for how the scale tilts. Ineffective enforcement mechanisms can be more easily accepted if the goal of symbolic, educational or politically motivated enforcement is deemed legitimate. However, if the goal is to decrease the impact of infringement, greater efficiency and economically quantifiable results may be required. A proportionate mechanism does not necessarily exist in any particular case.
Current enforcement legislation is a product of heavy lobbying by the copyright industry. This has led to the legislators being inundated with copyright ideology and proprietarian bias. In consequence, the legislation fails to take the more general public policy interests and the rights of others into account adequately. The pressure is on rationalising rather than expanding the role of connectivity providers. This background context also calls for a critical approach to interpreting the law. Such an approach might help in achieving more rational and balanced justifications and conclusions.
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