Lights back on for Blogger in Turkey

Hurriyet Daily News: Lights back on for Blogger in Turkey

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News


Access to the website, a property of Google Inc., was banned two weeks ago by a local court in Diyarbakır upon a complaint by Digiturk.

Access to the website, a property of Google Inc., was banned two weeks ago by a local court in Diyarbakır upon a complaint by Digiturk.

New evidence showing that Google had taken action against copyright violators led a prosecutor’s office in Southeast Turkey to decide Monday to lift the ban on the company’s popular blogging platform Blogger.

The ban, which entered into force Feb. 28 following a court decision, was issued based on a complaint by satellite television provider Digiturk that matches broadcast on its Lig TV channel had been illegally posted by several Blogger users.

‘We applied [to have the ban removed] to the prosecutor’s office, which required that an expert opinion be prepared regarding our case,’ cyber-rights activist Yaman Akdeniz, a lawyer and professor at Istanbul Bilgi University, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Wednesday.

The prosecutor’s office in the Southeast province of Diyarbakır – home of the court that issued the ban – decided to lift the ban after the expert opinion found that the accounts linked to the IP addresses on which Digiturk had filed its complaint had been deactivated by Google, Akdeniz said.

‘The court could have also asked for an expert opinion before making its decision [to issue the ban], but it didn’t,’ Akdeniz said. He added that it was obvious the court worked only ‘[based] on paper,’ not even making the effort to visit the websites it was deciding about.

Despite the prosecutor’s freezing of the Diyarbakır court’s decision, Akdeniz said the risk of being banned again remains for Blogger and other sites.

‘Despite this decision, the risk of banning [Blogger] or any other similar website exists,’ Akdeniz said.

Access to the website, a property of Google Inc., was banned two weeks ago by a local court in Diyarbakır upon a complaint by Digiturk, which owns the broadcast rights to Turkish Super League games. The decision to issue a blanket ban on the site was harshly criticized by thousands of Turkish bloggers, who said it had restricted their fundamental freedom of expression.

An initial appeal of the court’s decision made by Turkish citizens and Blogger users was rejected by the court for procedural reasons. The prosecutor’s office meanwhile accepted a second appeal based on new evidence that access to the blog accounts on that Digiturk had complained about had been blocked by Google.

According to Akdeniz, the law on artistic and intellectual works requires a complainant to warn the owner of a website accused of breaching copyright, and says complainants have the right to file a court case if the site’s owner does not respond within 72 hours.

‘Given that such a [warning] mechanism already exists, at least for the Blogger case, I think people [and companies] should be encouraged to make use of it,’ he said, adding that this would take less time and have less of a cost to all parties.

Google authorities had moved to restore access to Blogger following the court decision, saying in a press release March 3 that the company was concerned about content posted via Blogger that breaches the copyrights of other entities and would take immediate action upon legal notification of such cases.

Thousands of websites are banned in Turkey under the framework of Turkish Law No. 5651, which regulates publications and copyright infringements on the Internet, and Law No. 5846 on artistic and intellectual works. The former has been more common as a basis for court decisions on banning websites.

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