Anything the Americans can do, we can do better – the Irish SOPA

Last week there was an online protest over a piece of American legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).  It’s a particularly draconian piece of legislation and it’s been thankfully shelved. also took part in the blackout.  A lot of people thought this was just bandwagoning, but there was actually an Irish slant.

Due to pressure from the music industry, Sean Sherlock, Minister of State for Research and Innovation, will be signing a statutory instrument which will bring in an Irish equivalent of SOPA.  TJ McIntyre has an excellent FAQ on why this is really bad and isn’t just something that a few internet nerds are getting riled up about.

I’m not hugely politically, but this is something that won’t just disappear of its own accord.  I encourage anyone who has an interest in not being put under the kosh by vindictive music corporations contact Sean Sherlock (via his website or at as I have and register you displeasure.  You could also email your local TD.  there is a full list of email address available on

If you do contact any TDs about this, please be polite and not a rabid internet monkey.  That never does anyone any good.  I’ve included what I sent as an example.

Dear Mr. Sherlock,

I wish to register my disappointment as a life long labour voter at
the implementation of a biased, poorly thought out and harmful piece
of legislation via a statutory instrument which would allow Irish
courts to block access to websites accused of infringing copyright.

This will do nothing to prevent piracy and everything to stifle the
internet and all the business that go along with it – especially ones
the music industry finds particularly disruptive.

Have you consulted anyone at all from the Irish (or international)
technology industry about this? Has it been explained to you how easy
this sort of thing is to circumvent? How the media industry has used
similar laws in the US as blunt instruments to silence critics?

What protections will be put in place to stop vexatious takedown
attempts? What compensation will unjustly accused and shut down sites
receive? What is the level of proof that will be required?

It’s an utter disgrace that a Minister of State for Research and
Innovation will be ruining the best chance this country has for
building its economy back up again. The government talks enough about
the knowledge economy – maybe it should take heed from those who
actually understand the internet and its working than protectionist,
luddite, control freak corporations.

Mr McIntyre lays out exactly what is wrong with the law as proposed in
a recent blog post:

Yours sincerely,

Update 12/3/2012:
A canned response from Seán Sherlock hit my inbox a few minutes ago:

A Chara,

I would like to update you regarding the enactment of the European Union (Copyright and Related Rights) Regulations 2012.

I fully acknowledge the concerns that have been expressed by you regarding the introduction of the European Union (Copyright and Related Rights) Regulations 2012 which were signed into law on 29th February, 2012. I wish to re-emphasise that it has been necessary to introduce this legislative measure to restate the position that was thought to exist in the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 regarding injunctions against intermediaries prior to the High Court Judgement of Justice Charleton in the case of EMI & others –v- UPC and to ensure that Ireland is compliant with our obligations under EU law.

I am satisfied that the High Court now has significant guidance in the implementation of this legislative measure arising from the underpinning EU Directives, as interpreted by the recent Court of Justice of the European Union case law, to ensure that any remedy provided will uphold the following principles:

• Freedom to conduct a business enjoyed by operators such as ISPs;
• The absolute requirement that an ISP cannot be required to carry out general monitoring on the information it carries on its network;
• Any measures must be fair and proportionate and not be unnecessarily complicated or costly;
• The fundamental rights of an ISPs’ customers must be respected, namely their right to protection of their personal data and their freedom to receive or impart information.

I am determined to ensure that Ireland will be a premier location where innovation can flourish and where innovation is facilitated by our copyright laws and data protection regime. In this regard, I am committed to reviewing and updating the Copyright legislation currently in place in order to strike the right balance between encouraging innovation and protecting creativity.

In this context, I am particularly anxious that the Consultation Paper of the Copyright Review Committee, which was launched on 29th February, 2012, is carefully studied by all interested parties to stimulate a constructive and well informed debate on these issues. This is a wide-ranging Consultation Paper which examines the current copyright legislative framework to identify any areas of the legislation that might be deemed to create barriers to innovation. The Consultation Paper is available to download at the following link:

I would like to encourage the deepest engagement by all interested parties in the consultation process which has been launched in order to stimulate a constructive and well informed debate on all of the issues raised in this rapidly evolving area.

I am confident that the work being carried out by the Copyright Review Committee together with the interaction and input of all of the interested parties will result in establishing Irish copyright law on a firm footing to encourage innovation, foster creativity and meet the challenges of the future with confidence.

Yours sincerely,

Seán Sherlock TD
Minister for Research and Innovation