Thursday, 14 February 2008
Blogosphere is a-buzz with leaked news that the UK government might be considering requiring ISPs to monitor copyright infringement, and terminate repeat offenders. See Technollama, the IPKat, TechCrunch here, Boing Boing, Techdirt here, and the original Times Online here, . According to the Times:
Users suspected of wrongly downloading films or music will receive a warning e-mail for the first offence, a suspension for the second infringement and the termination of their internet contract if caught a third time, under the most likely option to emerge from discussions about the new law.
There has been a similar push in Australia by MIPI in particular; I’ve elsewhere (here and here) analysed the MIPI proposals and raised a number of questions about them (similar to the questions most of the blogosphere is raising). What I think is interesting about the UK developments is that it illustrates just how global this particular push is – looks like we have a coordinated (and more recently, more concentrated) push going on across a range of jurisdictions for a similar ‘notice and terminate’ kind of system. Here in Australia, though, it would be very ironic to see ‘Mr Broadband’ Kev Rudd legislating to switch off people’s internet contrary to presumptions of innocence and the like.
Frankly, too, it still seems like a proposal that is several years behind the trend of infringement. P2P is so, well, 10 years ago; bittorrent is used for all kinds of things (much more so than Kazaa or the like could ever claim), and the easiest way to ‘share’ copyright material is computer to computer.
In most families, an internet connection is shared by the entire household – so if Dad gets the connection cut off for sharing movies online, suddenly Mum canâ€™t run her business from home, and the kids canâ€™t get access to the Web to do their homework. The Times estimates that there are 6 million people in the UK who share files illegally on the web. Any serious move towards disconnecting offenders is likely to play havoc with the Governmentâ€™s ambition to foster an e-enabled society.
Whatâ€™s more, as soon as law enforcers start snooping for IP addresses to pass on to ISPs for disconnection, hardcore filesharers will simply start using encryption to obfuscate their identities. Then theyâ€™ll develop software that makes it easy for non-technical people to do the same. And then industry will be back to square one.
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