Taiwan backs off plan to block sites violating copyright laws

2013/06/03 21:57:04

Taipei, June 3 (CNA) Taiwan's authorities in charge of intellectual property protection have decided to give up a plan to block overseas Internet services that violate copyright laws amid opposition to the plan from free-speech advocates.

Wang Mei-hua, head of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, announced the decision Monday, and said the office's plans would be adjusted.

Declaring that the government would not set restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of access to information, Wang stressed her office "never intended to challenge or acted to damage" the freedom of speech that Taiwan's people worked so hard to acquire.

The plan, first reported on May 21, would have allowed administrative agencies to play the leading role in blocking overseas websites that are notorious for file-sharing and other activities that flagrantly violate digital content rights.

Though it has abandoned the plan, the office still intends to discuss with judicial agencies possible measures that can offer better protection to intellectual property holders, the official said.

The decision came after Wikimedia Taiwan, a non-profit social group, voiced strong opposition on June 1 to the plan, which would have allowed the IPO to determine which websites could be blocked rather than judicial authorities.

In Taiwan at present, intellectual property holders can directly inform Internet service providers to remove domestic websites found to have violated copyright laws, according to Wang.

But when confronting infringements by overseas websites, intellectual property holders can only seek to defend their rights through the local judiciary system, IPO officials said.

(By Huang Chiao-wen and Elizabeth Hsu)
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