Thursday, July 30, 2009

Finnish CSS case heading for European Court of Human Rights

According to the terrific EDRi-gram folks the Finnish CSS case is now heading for the European Court of Human Rights.
"Finnish Activist Mikko Rauhala has lodged an application to the European Court of Human Rights versus the Finnish state, regarding his right to freedom of expression.

The appeal is a follow up to the lengthy court process against Mr. Rauhala in Finland. The process started when Mr. Rauhala started a discussion board on the Internet, on which people could talk about the DVD copy protection method Content Scrambling System (CSS). Mr. Rauhala's motivation for this act was to criticize the implementation of the EU Copyright Directive in Finland which came into force in 2006. According to the implementation of the directive, "organized discussion" regarding circumventing technological protection measures, like the CSS, was prohibited. Mr. Rauhala's motivation was to display the disbeneficial nature of the directive. Thus, he himself reported his actions to the Finnish police in the first place, thinking that the police would not investigate the issue or that the public prosecutor would not press charges.

However the Police started its investigation with the public prosecutor who was supported strongly by the Finnish Anti-Piracy Association which arranged the "expert" testimonies for the prosecutor. Soon thereafter, the case was referred to the Helsinki District Court which decided in Rauhala's favor; that CSS was not a type of protection measure covered by the Directive and therefore the ban did not apply. The district attorney appealed to the Helsinki Appellate Court, which stated that Mr. Rauhala was guilty of illegally circumventing a technological protection measure and of providing an illegal service for the circumvention of protection measures. The Supreme Court of Finland denied Mr. Rauhala's application.

Mr. Rauhala had no other choice than to make an application to the European Court of Human Rights, because in all the court instances his argument that the discussion he was administering was within the confines of the Right to Freedom of Speech, as enshrined in the Finnish Constitution, was not considered. Mr. Rauhala is represented by the Helsinki, Finland based law firm Turre Legal.

EDRi-gram: Finish CSS decision overturned (4.06.2008)

(contribution by Markku Räsänen - Summer Associate, Turre Legal, Finland)"

It will certainly be interesting to see what the ECHR makes of it.

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