3-Strikes Law Not Needed to Disconnect Pirates

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In an attempt to cut down on so-called "illegal downloading" in the UK, the anti-piracy outfit BPI has sent out a round of intimidating emails, based on faulty evidence. BREIN plans to follow this example in The Netherlands, and meanwhile, the French Minister of culture is encouraging all EU member states to do the same.

Disconnecting filesharers has been one of the most debated anti-piracy measures this year. Many countries have discussed the possibility of doing so, and recently French authorities proposed a controversial “three strikes” law that allows anti-piracy organizations to disconnect pirates without a court order, or decent proof.

Next month, France will be the chair of the European Union, and Christine Albanel, the French Minister of Culture said that they will take this opportunity to encourage member states to take on piracy as well. Albanel further said that the “three strikes” law aims to change the behavior of the “average downloader”, not the hardcore pirates.

Albanel does not mention that the French law goes directly against the European Parliament who, this April, condemned state plans to authorize the disconnection of suspected file-sharers from the Internet. The European Parliament said that disconnecting petty file-sharers would be “conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness”.

However, recent developments indicate that anti-piracy outfits don’t need a law to threaten pirates. Since most countries are hesitant to adopt such laws, organizations like the BPI and BREIN are now looking to make deals with UK and Dutch ISPs, to establish a “three strikes” policy, without having to change the law.

The BPI already managed to convinced the British ISP BT to work with them. Earlier this week, the Register reported that a BT customer received an email, stating:

BPI will monitor for further infringements of copyright and, if further evidence is obtained of infringement via your internet connection, then further action is likely to be taken against you. That action may include litigation against you, as well as the suspension by BT of your internet connection.

A few days later, the Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN said they would like ISPs in The Netherlands to do the same – forward letters to alleged offenders, and threaten to terminate their Internet connection. In France, this is already happening as well, without the “three strikes” law being officially passed, with at least one ISP having agreed to work with an anti-piracy organization, to combat piracy.

So, while claiming they need such a law, they are working with ISPs to do the same thing anyway. This will be a huge problem, not just for the customers that may lose their connections, but just because people are being hit with, in many cases, baseless accusations. Until something is done to hold organizations accountable for false or inaccurate claims, the industry will continue to use shoddy data gathering techniques, pointing the finger at as many innocent net users as may be guilty.

This leads us to believe that the disconnection threats, are nothing more than an attempt to scare people, who often didn’t even commit the “crime”, as we pointed out before. Sad but true.

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