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By 26 November 2013 | Categories: news

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It looks like the anti-piracy brigade has sailed into some murky, uncharted waters, with the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) apparently now taking aim at Switzerland. The reason for this is that the country famous for the Alps and its chocolate is also lesser known for something else entirely, being a safe haven for piracy.

In fact, internet users in Switzerland can legally download copyright material from dodgy online sources should they so choose, without any fears of reprisal or conviction.    

This clearly does not sit well with the IIPA. According to TorrentFreak, a report by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) cites serious concerns with regards to the inability of rights holders to secure legal redress in Switzerland in cases involving copyright piracy over the internet.

The IIPA also took aim at Switzerland’s approach to piracy, contending that Switzerland has become an attractive haven for services heavily engaged in infringing activity.

The USTR’s 2013 Special 301 report further urged Switzerland to demonstrate its commitment to copyright protection and to combating online piracy, by “taking steps to ensure that rights holders can protect their rights.”

Harsh measures and unflinching responses

Additionally, the USTR is apparently closely monitoring a working group concerned with copyright law, AGUR12. They have asserted that ISPs in Switzerland should be forced to delete content if hosted on Swiss-based sites, and display warnings when users attempt to access sources of unauthorized content. Presumably, this would be aimed at deterring or scaring users away from accessing that content. Furthermore, AGUR12 recommended that sites deemed obviously illegal should be essentially shut down, although a big question mark hangs over how, and who would determine what such sites are subject to this treatment.

As anyone who knows anything whatsoever about the Swiss can attest, the country doesn’t exactly take kindly to outsiders meddling in its affairs or telling it how to conduct its business. Thus, it came as little surprise that the IIPA and the USTR were politely but firmly told by the ISPs to go take a long walk off a short plank.

The other side of the coin

The reason for this is compelling, particularly in a year when the spotlight has been firmly shone on data intrusions by the likes of the National Security Agency with its PRISM program.

According to Torrentfreak, the ISPs rejected what it contends would amount to it having to police the internet and its own clients, something likened to censorship and even totalitarianism. While the country can be criticised for essentially turning a blind eye to copyright infringement, it’s also ironic and interesting that this is being born out of a concern for individuals’ privacy and freedom to use the internet as they see fit.

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