The Norwegian Consumer Council and ISPs last week warned P2P users not to sign letters from law firm admitting guilt

Why did the lawyer cross the road? To give P2P users a letter to sign admitting their guilt. I know it was a ridiculous joke, but this is a ridiculous situation.

Last week, a Norwegian law firm decided to take piracy matters into their own hands by ordering local ISP’s to distribute letters to roughly 300 customers who were suspected of sharing files online illegally. Luckily, the Norwegian Consumer Council stepped in and halted the insanity.

The letter sent out by Simonsen Advokatfirma DA, representing the Norwegian video association, includes a confession of guilt for illegal file sharing and makes customers liable for all past and future sharing of files. NCC legal officer, Hans Marius Graasvold, released statements opposing the letter, warning customers not to sign it.

“Under no circumstance should a consumer sign this statement letter,” says NCC legal officer, Hans Marius Grassvold.  “The statement deprives the consumer of due process and puts him in a state of critical legal uncertainty, with practically unlimited legal responsibility. We cannot imagine that this law firm would ever advice their own clients to sign such a letter!”

The Norwegian ISP has joined the NCC in protest against the letter signing, advising their members not to spread the letter around, or customers signing it. Now, the NCC holds copyright laws in high regards, but it feels that any case of unlawful activity should be handled only by the courts.

This really is not a matter of copyright infringement itself but more a matter of private firms taking the law into their own hands. Graasvold claims that the law firm is trying to push the whole legal system out of the picture and uphold justice itself. 

Simonsen claims that ISPs should be the ones to step up and shut down customers internet services if they notice unlawful activity. Graasvold believes otherwise, claiming, “Today, Internet connection is regarded as a service of general good, and closing someone’s Internet access in such cases would be a violation of that person’s human right to participate in society.”

It seems the private firm believes justice is not being upheld by the courts; therefore it is its duty to take a stand. I would have thought the letter to be an April fools’ joke, but the Simonsen is quite serious about it. So, it looks like as long as the NCC is still standing, the courts will be holding the legal guns.

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