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Danish report
by Euro Reporter
2012-06-24 10:58:37
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Denmark ices ‘three strikes’ piracy plan, opts for carrot and stick

As US ISPs gear up to become the internet’s copyright cops from July, Denmark has put its plans for a ‘three strikes’ piracy policy on ice. As in the US, Danish copyright lobbyists had pushed the government for a ‘graduated response’ mechanism. Otherwise known as ‘three strikes’, such mechanisms usually oblige ISPs to send customers three infringement notifications, followed by the threat of a substantial penalty of some kind. France and New Zealand are among the countries that have adopted a three strikes plan. Under the New Zealand initiative, introduced last year, the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) monitors suspect infringers, who are then sent notifications by their ISP. After receiving three of the notices, the individual faces court and a potential NZ$15,000 In France’s version, infringers could see their internet connection suspended. Around 165 users in France are currently facing suspension two years after it introduced its three strikes policy. Denmark’s three strikes proposals, however, has been put on hold in favour of a new framework to tackle piracy, introduced by the Denmark’s Ministry of Culture on Wednesday.

The framework isn’t abandoning the graduated response option altogether, and it may be adopted if the current plan doesn’t prove effective. Denmark is looking to introduce ‘contractually enforced agreements’ between rights holders and content hosting sites to tackle the distribution of infringing material. Akin to ‘safe harbour’ arrangements for US web companies like Google, those Danish websites who have signed the agreements will be able to remove any infringing material without suffering a penalty for having hosted it. Such agreements are probably not much of a carrot for the site operators, but there will be a stick to accompany it: rights holders will only need a court order for one ISP to block a website to ensure that all of the country’s service providers will have to do likewise.

Meanwhile, the framework will see rights holders obliged to shoulder the burden of heckling suspected file sharers themselves, by hitting forums to persuade individuals that piracy is wrong and push them to use legal downloading services instead. Although it’s not entirely clear how they intend on reaching such individuals, the policy document says they will use ‘legal search functions’ to identify file sharers and find the contact information site users have provided in order to reach them. The last major component of Denmark’s effort focuses on the unsecured home router. ISPs have agreed to make sure Wi-Fi equipment “comes with unique passwords or some form of encryption”. It’s not clear how this would have any immediate impact on piracy, but seems aimed at shoring up failed attempts to tie acts of infringement to an account holder based on the infringement being associated with a particular IP address. In the case of unsecured connections, any number of individual beyond the account holder, even passers-by, could have used the connection. That scenario was tested in a Finnish district court recently: it ruled against a claim by the Finnish Anti-Piracy Centre that a particular individual could be held responsible for a copyright infringement on the grounds her network was not password secured.


Denmark is another costly refuge

European and triple-A rated? Tick. Definitely not in the euro zone? Tick. No external financing gap? Tick. With at least a few solvent banks? Yes! Denmark ticks all the boxes. It is a safe haven. Unfortunately, the little country – 5.5 million people – is crowded these days and it is charging investors to park their assets in the harbour. Denmark is attracting euro refugees. What investors are buying is not a proxy for the euro – which the Danish krone has shadowed at a close to unchanged rate throughout the common currency’s existence – but a proxy for the Deutschmark. Were the euro to break up, Germany would have a strong currency and the krone would be likely to shadow it. The krone could rise then sharply – but only in case of disaster.

Denmark should be able to keep its strong-as-Germany currency promise, because it is like Germany, only better. Danish government debt is a little below 50 percent of GDP – far better than Germany’s 82 percent, and Copenhagen is saddled with euro zone bail out problems. Like Germany, Denmark runs a healthy current account surplus – more than 5 percent of GDP. While the Danish fiscal deficit will rise above 3 percent of GDP next year, that aberration should prove brief.

Unlike Greece, Spain, Portugal or Italy, Denmark doesn’t need foreign financing. That makes foreigners all the keener to supply it. These refugees are becoming a problem for the Danish central bank, the DNB, though not yet on a Swiss scale. The krone has risen against the euro by a miniscule 4 cents, less than half of one percent. To prevent further appreciation the DNB is buying up euros, expanding its forex reserves by 11 percent in the past year, and driving down interest rates to pitiful levels. A sale this week of 2-year notes produced a negative yield of 0.08 percent. You can’t lose in the Danish harbour. But you have to pay to get in. And you won’t win – unless Germany ships out of the euro.


Denmark reveals mark-to-market trap amid no-return risks

As the European Union tells its life insurers to adopt mark-to-market rules starting in 2014, it should look north to see how the model can backfire. A decade after Denmark’s pension funds and life insurers became Europe’s first to use daily market values for matching assets and liabilities, the country is diluting the model. The government now says mark-to-market needs adjustments to work in times of volatility.

“Instead of no-risk returns, you’ll get no-returns risk,” Peter Lindegaard, who oversees about $50 billion as chief investment officer at Danica Pension, a unit of Denmark’s biggest lender Danske Bank A/S (DANSKE), said in an interview. “You end up on the wrong side of the tracks all the time. In trying to protect the clients from falling interest rates, we end up pushing interest rates down further.”

Regulators broke that cycle this month after Denmark’s haven status from Europe’s debt crisis sent its yields to record lows, inflating liability burdens. As the Nordic country, together with neighboring Sweden, softens its requirement that pension assets be based on daily market moves, European regulators are busy preparing the details of mark-to-market rules for the 27-member bloc. They should think again, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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