As of Friday, 18 September, 2009 access to popular social networks Myspace and Last.fm are blocked from Turkey. The blocking order is issued by the Beyoğlu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office (order no 2009/45 dated 26.06.2009). It is suspected that both sites are blocked because of “intellectual property infringements” following a request by Mu-yap, the Turkish Phonographic Industry Society. It is also alleged that Myspace and Last.fm were part of about 100 websites which were subjected to blocking on Friday. [Blog entry by Dr. Yaman Akdeniz – I will update this story as more information is made available – last update on 23.09.2009]
Access blocking is a legal remedy for intellectual property infringements provided under
Supplemental Article 4 of the Turkish Law No. 5846 on Intellectual & Artistic Works. This provision was introduced in March 2004 and provides a two-stage approach:
Initially the law requires the hosting companies, content providers, or access providers to take down the infringing article from their servers upon “notice” given to them by the right holders. The providers need to take action within 72hrs. Currently, no one knows whether Mu-yap or the right holders approached Myspace or Last.fm. Both sites have versions in Turkish and Myspace has recently opened an office in Turkey. Therefore, by law, I would expect the right holders to get in touch with these two companies for the removal of “allegedly infringing content”.
If the allegedly infringing content is not taken down or there is no response from the content providers (Myspace and Last.fm), the right holders can ask the Public Prosecutor to provide for a blocking order, and the blocking order is executed within 72hrs by the Turkish Internet Service Providers.
Currently access to myspace.com as well as lastfm.com.tr is blocked from majority of Turkish ISPs. However, access to last.fm is not currently blocked, and a major ISP, Superonline has not yet executed the blocking order which coincided with a religious holiday. Furthermore, those who have iPhones or Macs can use the relevant Last.fm applications without any restrictions from these devices.
The Turkish website “sansuresansur.org” (‘censor to censorship’) prompted internet users on their website not to accept the bans without a word of protest. Musician Aylin Aslım wrote the following on her facebook site: “Blocking access to myspace.com is serious injustice to independent musicians in Turkey. We do not want to be forced to return to music channels and record companies with their filthy politics. We want our music to be available freely to everybody who wants to listen to it”. Furthermore, Mehmet Tez from Milliyet daily newspaper commented the blockage on his own web page hafifmusik.org (‘light music’): “Well done! A great success. Turkey is proud of you”.(See Bianet: MySpace and Last FM Censored)
Blocking access to popular social networking sites such as YouTube, Myspace, and Last.fm will damage Turkey’s reputation whatever the reasons behind such decisions. Blocking access to any of these Web 2.0 based applications and systems have extreme side effects. Blocking orders not only result in the blocking of access to the allegedly illegal content (usually a single file or page) but they also result in the blocking of millions of legitimate pages, files, and content under the single domain that these systems operate.
These sites are not known to promote illegal content and activity even though their services may contain content which may be deemed undesirable or illegal by Turkish law and any other state laws around the world. The courts, the judges, and the public prosecutors therefore should not issue “domain based blocking orders” and there is no need to “burn the house to roast the pig” as was established by the US Supreme Court in Reno v. ACLU (U.S. Supreme Court majority decision, Reno v. ACLU (26 June, 1997)).