Daily Archives: December 3, 2009

Three strikes strikes back

As readers may remember from the blog that Kay Chapman posted on 26 June 2009, the French government initally failed to implement a system whereby internet users repeatedly accused by private companies (and/or individual copyright owners) of breaching copyright would be disconnected and blacklisted by the Internet Service Providers (“ISP”). However, Lord Mandelson, UK First Secretary of State, is strongly campaigning to pass a law which gives the government the power to disconnect internet users who continue to allegedly infringe copyright after a number of warnings.

This would mean that alleged infringers would not have the right to prove the contrary and present their case in court. But if this was considered unconstitutional in France, will it not be unconstitutional in the UK? Or would not having a written constitution give the government some legitimacy?! Further, it seems unlikely that the law will contribute to decreasing the percentage of infringers, as the savvy ones will simply turn to encryption. Isn’t the concern of enforcers that the use of encryption will make their job so difficult that the UK government will reconsider the proposed law?

Joe McNamee, Advocacy Coordinator at European Digital Rights commented:

“perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the whole campaign is the “analysis and evidence” aspect, with regard to the costs and expected benefits of the measures.”

According to the Digital Britain report, the cost for ISPs (to be borne ultimately by consumers, obviously) is set at a total of 290-500 million pounds while the unjustified and unexplained “benefit” (the profit, if the figures are correct, going to record labels) of 1700 million is plucked from the air and contradicts credible and recent research that file sharing as either no impact, or is even provides a positive benefit to the music industry (http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2004/04.15/09-filesharing.html, https://casipblog.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/copyright-enforcement-new-challenges-for-new-markets%E2%80%A6).

Its doubtful that the current UK government will be able to pass the law before the next election, after which Gordon Brown’s and his party face an uncertain future…so watch this space. The silence of the Tories on this issue, however, has been deafening.

Looking at the impact on developing countries, where there are already issues about set rules and enforcement, would Ghana (where piracy is a major concern), for example, be able to overcome such obstacles and build an efficient music industry? If, however, copyright laws were re-thought and seriously adapted to the new era, perhaps it could serve everyone’s interests, including the authors and the users.

Post written by Francesca Re Manning, consultant to CAS-IP