Trial and error tackling online copyright infringement

Spotted this news item today in the Guardian today: UK policy makers are struggling to find workable policy solutions that can bridge gaps between the interests of rights holders, consumers, and internet service providers (ISPs).

 “Government scraps plan to block illegal filesharing websites

 “A consultation document … said that ministers intend to do more work on what other measures can be pursued to tackle online copyright infringement in an effort to stop widespread music piracy, which is increasingly spreading to television and film…

[Cable recognised] that more needs to be done to crack down on illegal filesharing to protect the copyright holders, but nevertheless backed down on introducing site blocking legislation…”The basic philosophy is we do recognise the need for protection, but it has to be protection that’s proportionate to needs and based on evidence.”

Problems are often connected to the stick approach.  As well as legislation to allow the blocking of sites by ISPs there is the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) software.  From TechEye.net, “Vince Cable: You can own your own property”:

“DRM is a means for companies to stop you from copying your own content, mostly due to fears of piracy, but it stops users from legitimately enjoying property that they have legally bought. You know, in shops”

The Guardian article highlighted this problem too, “We can’t say that businesses should embrace technology but say to consumers they can’t use technology for products they have paid for

TechEye.net said the Digital Economy Act was much criticised, and rushed legislation can come back to haunt.  The issue of online copyright infringement is a moving target which needs careful consideration.  However, in the meantime rights holders must be frustrated with the amount of time this careful consideration is taking – they are the ones who are losing out financially in the meantime.  It seems highly probable that sticks are not going to be enough, not whilst the technology can move faster than the law making.  But are carrots enough, especially as building them into a profitable business model remains somewhat elusive?

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