Secret Anti-Piracy Negotiations, 3 Strikes, And a Taxpayer Funded Campaign

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As authorities, rightsholders and ISPs in Denmark negotiate behind an agreed press blackout over the possible introduction of a 3 strikes-style file-sharing regime, the government is set to commit tax payers' money to the overall plan. The Ministry of Culture says it will help fund a public anti-piracy campaign and will match any financial contributions made by the entertainment industries and ISPs.

In common with many countries around the world, Denmark has faced huge pressure from the entertainment industries in recent times over illicit file-sharing. After failing to reduce infringement by going after individuals and torrent site owners, the music and movie companies decided to channel their energies towards ISPs.

Naturally this approach leads to friction since ISPs don’t want to be held responsible for the activities of their users and don’t want to stress customer relations. In order to address the issue, the Ministry of Culture formed an Anti-Piracy Committee who have been trying to come to agreement on how infringements should be handled.

Negotiations between lawyers, rightsholders, ISPs and other groups have been going on since the start of the year and early this month it was finally revealed that Denmark would indeed by treading a 3 strikes path, although exactly how it will do so remains undecided. As usual, everyone is arguing about who bears the cost.

At the moment there are two models on the table. Rightsholders will almost certainly do all the monitoring of file-sharers, but in one model ISPs send out warning letters and in the other the task is handled by a public body. In both models, an independent body assesses the evidence.

The letters to be sent are also set to contain an educational message. While indicating that rightsholders have detected an infringement from the IP address in question, it’s proposed that recipients should also be informed about Denmark’s Copyright Act. Information on how to secure a wireless network and how to block and/or remove file-sharing software will be included along with the telephone number of a helpdesk to answer further questions have been following developments closely and have made efforts to get information about negotiations from the Anti-Piracy Committee. After experiencing difficulty, Comon was told by Committee members that they had “promised to keep working secretly in order not to create too much fuss” and “could never agree on some recommendations if there was too much public debate about its work.”

Martin Salamon from the Consumer Council, which is opposed to sending out warning letters, confirmed that there was agreement not to discuss matters with the press.

Of course, this is problematic on a number of levels and especially when consumers inevitably pick up the tab. If the entertainment industries pick up the bill initially, their customers pay. If ISPs have to finance 3 strikes, their customers pay. And if the government pays, taxpayers have to pay.

Although it seems unlikely that the government will pick up the bill for administering whichever model is chosen, already it is pledging to get more involved in the anti-piracy fight. To this end it is offering financial support to help the entertainment industries’ battle.

The government says that it has put funds aside to assist in raising public awareness of its anti-piracy message. In a statement the Ministry of Culture said it will match money put into the campaign by rightsholders and Internet service providers. The amount is confirmed to be around 1 million kroner ($187,700).

Earlier anti-piracy campaigns in Denmark have failed so it will be interesting to see if the approach this time will be different. After all, only an insane person does the same thing over and over again and expects different results.


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