Net pirates to be 'disconnected'
From BBC News - Technology
Net pirates to be 'disconnected'
People who persistently download illegal content will be cut off from the net, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has announced.
Published: 2009/10/28 10:27:41 GMT
He confirmed that it would become government policy, following months of speculation.
It means persistent pirates will be sent two warning letters before facing disconnection from the network.
ISP TalkTalk said the plans were "ill-conceived" and said it was prepared to challenge measures "in the courts".
"What is being proposed is wrong in principle and won't work in practice," the firm said.
"In the event we are instructed to impose extra judicial technical measures we will challenge the instruction in the courts."
Lord Mandelson said that cutting off internet connections would be a "last resort".
"I have no expectation of mass suspensions. People will receive two notifications and if it reaches the point [of cutting them off] they will have the opportunity to appeal," he told the audience at the C&binet Forum, a talking shop set up by government to debate the issues facing the creative industries.
The pay-off for tough penalties against persistent file-sharers would be a more relaxed copyright regime, Lord Mandelson said.
The details of it would need to be hammered out at European level but it would take account of the use of copyright material "at home and between friends", he said.
It would mean that, for example, someone who has bought a CD would be able to copy it to their iPod or share it with family members without acting unlawfully.
Lord Mandelson praised the UK's creative industries, which are worth around £16bn and employs 2 million people.
But it has been eroded in recent years, he said, by new ways of accessing content.
"I was shocked to learn that only one in 20 music tracks in the UK is downloaded legally. We cannot sit back and do nothing," said Lord Mandelson.
The fact that young people now expect to download content for free was "morally as well as economically unsustainable," he added.
But he emphasised that "legislation and enforcement can only ever be part of the solution".
The long-term answer was for the industry to educate users and to offer new and cheaper ways to download content, he said. In addition, new copyright laws were needed to lift restrictions on how people moved content on to the various different devices that they owned.
In France the government has just approved a so-called three strikes policy.
Under its system, those identified as illegally downloading content would initially be sent warning letters and, if they failed to comply, could be removed from the network for up to a year.
UK internet service providers have argued that it is not their job to police the network, claiming that there are "mere conduits" of content.
They also say that they should not have to bear the brunt of the costs.
In his speech, Lord Mandelson said that the costs of enforcing the policy would be "shared between ISPs and content providers".
The Internet Service Providers' Association thinks rightsholders should shoulder the burden for all costs, including reimbursement of ISPs costs.
"This approach is consistent with the principle of beneficiary pays and would serve to incentivise rightsholders to develop new business models and ensure an effective and efficient use of notifications and targeted legal action," read a statement from ISPA.
ISP TalkTalk said that it would "continue to resist any attempts to make it impose technical measures on its customers".
It has set up a campaign called Don't Disconnect Us to lobby against the plans.
It said that it believed the "three-strikes" rule would lead to "wrongful accusations".
"The unintended consequence of Lord Mandelson's plan will be to encourage more wi-fi and PC hi-jacking and expose more innocent people to being penalised."
The firm recently demonstrated how someone could hi-jack unsecured wi-fi connections to download music illegally.
The Open Rights Group, a digital rights lobby organisation, has long been opposed to a disconnection policy.
Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, is disappointed that the UK government is determined to introduce such legislation.
"Even MI5 disagree with Mr Mandelson - they are convinced we will see a rise of a 'Dark Net' of infringers. Nobody at C&binet from an online music service, as opposed to an old media company, thought that peer-to-peer [file-sharing] was a threat to their businesses.
"Yet Mandelson seems determined to push forward with his plans for 'three strikes' - threatening to punish people extremely harshly, threatening their education, businesses and livelihoods for a relatively minor financial misdemeanour," he said.
There has been increasing pressure from the music industry to get tough on pirates.
Lily Allen has been spearheading a campaign against music piracy, with high-profile stars including Gary Barlow and James Blunt behind her.
Music industry group BPI welcomed the move.
"The measures confirmed today by government are a proportionate way of encouraging illegal file-sharers to embrace the new services, and will drive further innovation that will benefit online consumers," said Geoff Taylor, BPI chief executive.
But not all content providers agree. Fast-growing music streaming service we7 thinks the government has missed the point.
"Piracy is a reaction to an unsustainable situation, where reasonable, legitimate access to music has struggled to match demand," said chief executive Steve Purdham.
"A variety of reasonable and sustainable models for providing music to consumers is key to ending rampant piracy. This is the approach that should be taken by the government rather than criminalising consumers and driving pirates further into the undergrowth," he added.
From The Register
Mandy declares 'three strikes' war on illegal file sharers
Hopes 'legislate, enforce' mantra will beat piracy
By Kelly Fiveash 28th October 2009 13:12 GMT
Lord Mandelson has reiterated the government’s plans to clamp down on illegal P2P file sharers by declaring a “three-pronged approach” to tackle online piracy in the UK.
The biz secretary confirmed today that proposals on unlawful file sharing, outlined in the government’s Digital Britain consultation paper in June, would form the basis of measures in the upcoming Digital Economy Bill in late November.
Mandelson, who was speaking at the government’s C&binet conference on the creative industries this morning, said that ISPs, the creative industries and government needed to work together on “education, enforcement and new business models to discourage unlawful downloading.”
According to reports, Mandy warned web users that “consequence free” illegal file sharing was over, and added that internet connections of P2P crooks, who ignore warnings, could be blocked from the summer of 2011 - though only as a last resort.
“The creative sector has faced challenges to protected formats before. But the threat faced today from online infringement, particularly unlawful file sharing, is of a different scale altogether. We cannot sit back and do nothing,” said Mandelson, who cited music industry claims that only one in every 20 tracks downloaded in the UK were done so lawfully.
“Only persistent rule breakers would be affected - and there would be an independent, clear and easy appeals process to ensure that the correct infringer is penalised.”
Mandelson was also at pains to to reassure ISPs that they weren't expected to bear the brunt of the cost involved with "implementing and delivering the notifications to suspected infringers."
He said a "flat fee" per notification would be set, with rights holders footing the bill. But he didn't reveal how much the flat fee would cost.
In August the government told ISPs to write letters to people caught illicitly downloading copyrighted material, and added that persistent offenders could face the threat of court action.
Mandy also said this morning that consumers needed to be educated about the “value of intellectual property rights” to change public perceptions about downloadable content.
He called on new business models that would effectively push down prices, making them more attractive to customers who might otherwise download files for free.
“A 'legislate and enforce' approach to beating piracy can only ever be part of the solution. The best long-term solution has to be a market in which those who love music and film, for example, can find a deal that makes acting unlawfully an unnecessary risk," he said.
The Digital Britain report, which was written by Lord Carter and published in June this year, stopped short of mandating a mechanism for persistent copyright infringers to be disconnected. However, it did suggest port blocking, protocol blocking, URL and IP address blocking, bandwidth capping, bandwidth shaping and filtering of specific content as sanctions.
Under the proposals, communications watchdog Ofcom would be granted powers to step in, either by slowing internet connections or blocking access to piracy websites used by anyone who persists in illegal file sharing online.
By late August, the government unexpectedly revived plans for laws to disconnect persistent illegal filesharers, in a move to delight the entertainment industry and anger ISPs. At the time, Mandelson's Department for Business said responses to the Digital Britain consultation had persuaded it to reconsider introducing the threat of disconnection from the internet.
Treasury minister Stephen Timms, who took charge of the government’s Digital Britain plans in August, previously said that UK.gov was hoping to reduce illegal file sharing in Blighty by 70 per cent within a year. ®