UK Entertainment Industry Wants to Disconnect Pirates

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Today the French will probably pass their HADOPI '3 strikes' legislation, which will be heralded as a major victory in the war against illicit file-sharing. Just across the water in the UK, elements of the entertainment industry are simultaneously making renewed efforts to convince their government to do the same.

Over the past few months we’ve written a couple of dozen articles on the “three strikes” proposals that are lobbied for by the entertainment industries, or drafted into law by national governments. Those in favor of such measures argue that it’s the ideal solution to combat piracy, which allegedly robs the movie and music studios of billions of dollars in profit.

Today, a few hours before France is expected to pass “HADOPI” – their three-strikes legislation – a coalition of several British “creative industries” are calling on the UK government to implement similar measures. According to a BBC report, the entertainment industry lobbyists want the government to force ISPs to disconnect repeated copyright infringers, something the government has already said it does not want to do.

The coalition’s recommendations are accompanied by some impressive statistics for which no source can be found. They argue that a massive 50% of all Internet traffic can be attributed to piracy alone, and that despite the record breaking revenues for the movie industry and the ever growing revenue from digital music sales, many jobs may be lost because of it.

Whether or not jobs or profits are at stake, the major downside to implementing a “three strikes” policy is that the current state of evidence gathering is far from accurate. The BBC consumer show Watchdog revealed how easy it is to point the finger (and pull the plug) on the wrong person. The recent accusation that an elderly couple downloaded gay porn is just one example.

The Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) seems to agree and has said in a statement that the evidence used by the entertainment industries would not be “admissible as evidence in court.” On the other hand, disconnecting alleged file sharers without going though the courts is deemed unfavorable by a recent decision of the European Parliament, because it would violate the rights and freedoms of Internet users.

Nicholas Lansman, Secretary general of ISPA has a suggestion for the entertainment industry coalition though. “It is important to recognise that a major part of the solution lies in licensing reform and the availability of legal content online,” he said. Indeed, if anything, the widespread use of BitTorrent and other file-sharing networks to download infringing content is merely a sign of a failing industry. Disconnections will not improve the current business model.

Indeed, no amount of Internet user disconnections is going to solve the the piracy ‘problem’ either. If the UK government did agree to implement something like this and it led to the disconnection of say, 10,000 people there would be outcry. There would also still be another 5,990,000 people sharing files across Britain. There has to be another solution.


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