Over the past few months the implementation of the "3 Strike Scheme" for disconnecting Internet users for alleged copyright infringement has circled the globe. One key point is that they are only allegations of copyright infringement until a court of law finds the Internet user in breach of copyright. However, the "3 Strike Scheme" forgoes a finding of guilt and imposes punishment almost immediately; from short periods of Internet disconnection to permanent disconnection. Those against such a system in Ireland and New Zealand have caused many to contemplate the scheme again.
I do want to rebroadcast, if you will, that the "3 Strike Scheme" is actually in place on American university and college campuses now. In short universities acting as ISPs must respond expeditiously to remove or disable access to infringing materials (17 USC 512(c)(1)(C)) in order to avoid liability. Again this is just for notifications of alleged copyright infringement, not for proven copyright infringement.
Which brings up another important point of contestation, the definition of a 'strike'. Is it a strike per item infringed? Does the strike represent the totallity of infringements for a specified period of time regardless of the number of items infringed? This is a fundamental issue that still needs to be addressed.
The development of the "3 Strike Scheme" is a mystery to me. Perhaps it is based on the system California imposed years ago, but in the California system allegations were not enough to impose punishment. In most of the "3 Strike Schemes" I have read, it appears they all end up with the same punishment, banishment from campus network access. As a student in the modern era, how can a student be expected to participate fully in the educational system without access to the campus network or Internet? Not to mention wholly online students, what are they to do? The last time I looked in my campus library, the only way to find materials was by using a networked computer to access the OPAC (that is card catalog for non-librarians).
So, as we support or decry the employment of the "3 Strike Scheme" across the globe, let us remember that the system is already in place on American university and college campuses and perhaps it is time we revisit its implications there as well.
(See: HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON COURTS, THE INTERNET, AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION, SEPTEMBER 22, 2005, Serial No. 109–56
THE INTERNET AND THE COLLEGE CAMPUS: HOW THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY AND HIGHER EDUCATION ARE WORKING TO COMBAT ILLEGAL PIRACY, HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON 21ST CENTURY COMPETITIVENESS OF THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS SECOND SESSION, September 26, 2006, Serial No. 109–58
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