UK Government says: no plank for internet pirates
The Times reports that the UK Government has reversed its position on disconnection for internet users who persistently download files illegally. In an interview with The Times, David Lammy, the Intellectual Property Minister, said that the Government had ruled out legislating to force ISPs to disconnect such users. The newspaper says this is a reversal of the statement made last year by Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, that the Government had “serious legislative intent” to compel internet companies to cut off customers who ignore warnings not to pirate material.
Apparently prompted by the imminent publication of a new report on the future of Britain's digital industries Mr Lammy said that, due to complex legal issues surrounding disconnection, “I'm not sure it's actually going to be possible.” The report, called the Digital Britain Report, has been drafted by Lord Carter, the Communications Minister and was due for release today (26th of January 2009), but has apparently fallen foul of a “ministerial quagmire”, resulting in a postponement until Thursday. It has been suggested that Lord Carter may impose levy's on service providers and on end users broadband bills, to fund compensation payments to the record companies. If end users are to be charged extra this would place an unfair burden on those who don't indulge in illegal downloading and could, in effect, simply encourage everyone to illegally download.
Although the ISPs and the music industry have been cooperating to a degree; in July of 2008 they drew up a memorandum of understanding where the ISPs agreed to send 1,000 letters a week for a period of three months to end users suspected of illegal file sharing, they have almost diametrically opposed views on how to approach the problem. The music industry cites losses in the UK of £180 million a year and wants punitive legislation, while the ISPs are not in favour of extra regulatory burdens or costs being placed upon them.