'We're Being Sued, Ordered to Pay Copyright Troll’s Legal Bills' - Web Activist

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Norwegian flag. (File) - Sputnik International
A Norwegian court has ordered to shut down a website run by local internet activists, providing free access to court rulings. The owners of the website are now preparing to challenge what they call an unfair verdict in the court of appeals.

The large "404" error message on the front page of the Norwegian website Rettspraksis.no looks a lot like an "SOS" signal. But instead of the common "Page not found" the message reads "Being sued." The online library run by volunteers, which previously gave users free access to a database of domestic court rulings was ordered to be shut down… by a court ruling.

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Norway's semi-commercial governmental Lovdata foundation, which also publishes court verdicts online, but puts them behind a paywall, filed a lawsuit against the owners of  Rettspraksis. In just 24 hours the court ordered the volunteers to take down their website without hearing their side of the story.

"It's kind of baffling, but we are liable for the opponents' legal costs before we were able to bring forward our own appeal, which we think is weird." — says Håkon Wium Lie, who took part in creating Rettspraksis. — "We didn't think of justice this way."

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Wium Lie is a veteran of the World Wide Web and a proponent of the free flow of information on the Internet. He immediately received support from other activists and legal experts both in Norway and across the Atlantic. California-based Internet archivist Carl Malamud and Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig both sided with Wium Lie, criticizing the Scandinavian country, reputedly known as the "World's Best Democracy," for acting "out of character."

​According to Wium Lie, he did borrow Lovdata's information from an old library CD-ROM disc, which, in his opinion is not protected by copyright law, but Lovdata sued him for allegedly extracting the information from the company's website:

Their hypothesis is that we have actually "siphoned" through a robot, to slowly copy more and more court decisions. They basically say that we were stealing from their online database. That's not the case.

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Håkon Wium Lie is certain that "public access is to public documents is worth fighting for." Despite the fact that his website may stay offline for a couple of months due to Norwegian court holidays, the activist and his lawyers are preparing for another round of legal battles.

Norway is not a member of the European Union but its judicial system is strongly influenced by policies adopted in Brussels. As a participant of the European Economic Area, Norway follows EU's guidelines when it comes to copyright issues and frequently adjusts its national laws to comply with European norms.

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Lovdata did not respond to Sputnik's request for comments.

The views and opinions expressed by Håkon Wium Lie are those of the activist and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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