Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Labour's plans to block filesharers take shape; Guardian, 10/28/09

Jack Schofield, Guardian; Labour's plans to block filesharers take shape:

"The government has proposed a complicated and expensive system of letters, independent bodies and First Tier Tribunals as a way to stop the sharing of copyright content, but it seems unlikely to work

"Lord Mandelson has "warned internet users today that the days of 'consequence-free' illegal filesharing are over," according to my colleague Mark Sweney. This will no doubt give most of the large copyright owners a warm glow, but whether it will make any practical difference is another matter. I suspect it won't.

The government plan has two stages....In stage 1, a "rights holder" is going to identify the IP address of an illegal uploader by "phishing" on a file-sharing site, then get the ISP to send that user a warning letter. After sending more than one warning, the rights-holder takes legal action.
In stage 2, the ISP takes "technical measures" against the "serious infringer", who can then appeal to "an independent body established by Ofcom". (These "technical measures" may include the not-very-technical suspension of the user's account.) If that appeal is unsuccessful, the "serous infringer" can appeal to a "First Tier Tribunal", following which the "technical measures" are either re-implemented or dropped.

It sounds like an expensive and extremely bureaucratic plan where the cost of implementation will be far higher than the cost of the content. Mandy's thinking is presumably that making a public example of a small number of "serous infringers" will discourage others. It should certainly discourage peer-to-peer file-sharing, at least among those smart enough to realise that if they are downloading something, they are probably uploading it as well."

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