UK: ISPs are not the Internet cops

By EDRi · April 9, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the UK music trade body, has asked
British ISPs to disconnect the users that share music considering that this
is just an education measure to their customers not to steal music. However,
the UK ISPs are complaining about the fact that they are turned into the
Internet police.

The record labels have made pressures on ISPs to take actions to prevent
illegal music downloading lobbying for a “three strikes” system (similar to
the French one supported by Sarkozy) leading to the disconnection of those
who illegally download copyrighted material on the Internet.

BPI is apparently working now with Virgin Media on a trial program that
might come to life in a few months and which includes a warning letter at
the first offence, a temporary suspension for the second one, and
disconnection on the third. The BPI will trace illegal music downloading to
individual accounts and will hand these account numbers over to Virgin
Media, which will match them to names and addresses.

A spokesman for Virgin Media said: “We have been in discussions with rights
holders organisations about how a voluntary scheme could work. We are taking
this problem seriously and would favour a sensible voluntary solution.”

However, the opinion is not shared by ISPs. Charles Dunstone of Carphone
Warehouse, which runs the TalkTalk, the third biggest Internet provider in
UK, has expressed a very firm position against the BPI actions and demands.
He considers the demands as unreasonable and unworkable and he believes his
job is not to be an Internet policeman.

He said: “Our position is very clear. We are the conduit that gives users
access to the internet. We do not control the internet, nor do we control
what our users do on the internet. I cannot foresee any circumstances in
which we would voluntarily disconnect a customer’s account on the basis of a
third party alleging a wrongdoing” adding that his company would fight to
protect its users’ rights, using the law.

But BPI is threatening those who do not want to cooperate stating the
government would bring in legislation to oblige them to do so. BPI chief
executive Geoff Taylor said: “We believe that any socially responsible ISP
should, as a core part of its business, put in place steps to help their
customers avoid engaging in illegal activity, and deter those who knowingly
break the law. (…) This is not the time for ISPs to delay further.
Government clearly shares the creative community’s frustration at the
failure of ISPs to take action.”

The UK Government is expected to find ways to legally enforce the policy
proposed by the record labels. In February 2008, the Government said that
unless ISPs would voluntarily come to an agreement by April 2009 with the
music and film industries, it would implement legislation to regulate the
issue. According to industry sources, in April 2008, the Department for
Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform will publish a consultation paper
on proposed legal measures.

Another important European actor protests against the French 3 strikes
model. Swedish MEP Christofer Fjellner and the former Prime Minister
of France, Michel Rocard, proposed a new amendment to the EU’s Bono Report
on the Cultural Industries that will condemn any measure taken by the EU or
nation states that conflicts: “with civil liberties and human rights and
with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness,
such as the interruption of Internet access”.

The report is discussed today in the European Parliament and could be an
important step for positioning purposes. The vote will take place on 10
April 2008.

Policing internet ‘not ISP’s job’ (4.04.2008)

Virgin Media takes fight to illegal downloaders (2.04.2008)

Virgin Media to begin penalizing users for illegal downloads (31.03.2008)

EDRi-gram: UK Government continues to pressure ISPs for Internet filtering

EU Politicians Strike Back Against Three Strikes (7.04.2008)