Liberty Commentary

Why “Safe Harbor” Laws Are Disastrous For Free Speech

from TorrentFreak

In the debate about the American “Stop Online Piracy Act”, some have hailed the decade-old American DMCA as a law that was somehow beneficial for the development of new services on the net. This is not only a complete misconception, but a very dangerous one at that. The DMCA was basically a wet dream come true for the copyright industry, and the “safe harbor” provisions have gradually shifted the environment to suppress free speech and expression in favor of the suppressing industries: the copyright industries.

These “safe harbor” provisions basically mean that the only way for an intermediary to avoid liability is to immediately surrender the end-user to the suppressing industries. But it was never in the business interests of net services to safeguard free speech. This is something that politicians are tasked with, not corporations. Conversely, quite a few corporations — the suppressing industries in particular — have an interest in squelching free speech and expression.

Gray is obviously black, says the District Court.

These liability cases can take a long time with a very uncertain outcome. It is not uncommon for court cases concerning the copyright monopoly to go all the way to the Supreme Court, and yet, the suppressing industries would have us believe that it is clear-cut as day, and that anything they don’t like is, well, so obviously illegal that a low-level customer representative can call the shots.

In reality, things are not black and white, but rather, many expressions are somewhere on a scale of gray. But the effect of these “safe harbor” provisions is that no companies want to risk liability, and so, they choose to succumb for an expression that is even in the slightest doubt of not being perfectly crystalline white as snow.

After all, who knows what the courts will say?

Read more at this link.