U.K. Lawmakers Attack Piracy

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

In the beginning of 2007, British lawmakers took a serious look at the Internet piracy problem in the U.K. The government gave the music/film industries and U.K. Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) one year to agree upon a plan to tackle the illegal file-sharing problem, and that time has passed, with little progress. In the coming weeks, with no sign of reaching an agreement between the two parties, new legislation may emerge that will compel internet service providers to take action against customers who access pirated material.

In the beginning of 2007, British lawmakers took a serious look at the Internet piracy problem in the U.K. The government gave the music/film industries and U.K. Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) one year to agree upon a plan to tackle the illegal file-sharing problem, and that time has passed, with little progress. In the coming weeks, with no sign of reaching an agreement between the two parties, new legislation may emerge that will compel internet service providers to take action against customers who access pirated material.

Although piracy is illegal, prosecutions have been rare, and the music and film industry has been pressing for more stringent action to be taken. In following the current French model for dealing with the problem, lawmakers have suggested that users in violation face a “three strikes” model from their service provider, under which a warning email will be sent for the first offense, followed by suspension from the service and finally termination of the service contract.

The body representing the ISP’s has made the argument for a more voluntary agreement that would not require them to take as much direct action against their customers. One idea they have offered is to share the identities of their customers who have been ducking the laws with the music and film companies so that they can take action themselves. In response, the music industry says it has been forced to take more aggressive legal action after such rampant Internet piracy (up to 20 illegal downloads for every track sold) has upended its traditional revenue model.

Also included in this legislation is a call for a £200m national film center in London, as well as 19 other plans intended to advance Britain’s place as the “world’s creative hub.” Other initiatives include the launching of a global arts conference, the creation of a new college of digital media and the protection of live music venues such as the Astoria and the Hammersmith Apollo theaters.


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