Three strikes plans in UK

By EDRi · November 4, 2009

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Deutsch: [Pläne für ein britisches Drei-Treffer-Gesetz |]

Europe seems to take no notice of the strong opposition against measures to
cut down Internet access. After the adoption of the three strikes law in
France, UK’s politicians found a good background turn to push ahead their
three strikes plans.

Business, Innovation & Skills Minister Lord Peter Mandelson confirmed on 25
October 2009 the intention of the UK government to go on with the planned
legislation to cut off allegedly illegal Internet downloaders, that was
already announced in August 2009.

“What we will be putting before parliament is a proportionate measure that
will give people ample awareness (of their wrongdoing) and opportunity to
stop breaking the rules. It will be clear to them that they have been
detected, that they are breaking the law and risk prosecution. (…) It will
also make clear that we will go further and make technical measures
available, including account suspension. In this case, there will be a
proper route of appeal. But it must become clear that the days of
consequence-free, widespread online infringement are over,” said Lord
Mandelson at the Cabinet Forum talking shop.

He also stated that the suspension measures will only be used as a last
resort and that “I have no expectation of mass suspensions resulting. If we
reach the point of suspension for an individual, they will be informed in
advance, having previously received two notifications, and will have the
opportunity to appeal … the threat for persistent infringers has to be

It seems that the UK regulator Ofcom was asked to monitor the file-sharing
levels as it was already proposed by the initial Digital Britain report in
June 2009.

UK ISPs have long argued that they should not be treated as an Internet
police and that they should not bear the costs for the respective measures.
Lord Mandelson said in his speech that the costs implied by the application
of the legislation should be “shared between ISPs and content providers”
while the Internet Service Providers’ Association believes that the bearers
of the costs should rightfully be the rightsholders according to the
principle that the beneficiary pays.

Several ISPs including BT Group and Talk Talk are opposed to the measure
considering it inefficient, disproportional and costly. “What is being
proposed is wrong in principle and won’t work in practice,” stated TalkTalk.
The company also stated that in case it was imposed to apply extra judicial
technical measures, it would “challenge the instruction in the courts,” and
that it would “continue to resist any attempts to make it impose technical
measures on its customers”.

Even the counter-intelligence MI5 unit believe that the proposed legislation
may have an opposite result and that instead of protecting artists and
discouraging illegal downloading, it may encourage “an encrypted and
unpoliceable darknet that would affect the artists.

A study published on 2 November 2009 by the London-based think-tank Demos
shows that those who illegally download music from he Internet are also
those who spend the most money on official records. The survey revealed that
a large percentage of people downloading music illegally stated they did it
in order to “try before you buy” and about 60% of file sharers stated they
would be encouraged to stop illegal downloading if they had the option of
new and cheaper music services.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, has expressed his
disappointment related to the government’s actions. “Yet Mandelson seems
determined to push forward with his plans for ‘three strikes’ – threatening
to punish people extremely harshly, threatening their education, businesses
and livelihoods for a relatively minor financial misdemeanour,” he said.

The full proposals for the graduated response scheme will be detailed in the
Digital Economy Bill later on this year and according to the Business,
Innovation & Skills Department, it will come into force in April 2010. The
tougher disconnection policy will be introduced in the spring of 2011 if

In parallel, also on 25 October 2009, an Intellectual Property Office report
called © The Way Ahead, was issued, focusing on the liberalisation of
copyright. Basically what the report says is that it wants to “move toward a
pan-European approach for copyright exceptions in the digital age” which
means allowing more use of copyrighted works.

The report states that the rights holders should broader the terms of use
for the works they offer and also advocates for the distinction between
commercial and non-commercial copying of copyrighted works. According to the
report, the government intends to introduce collective licensing and to open
orphan works for copying by cultural bodies and businesses.

“We must now work within the international and European framework to ensure
copyright keeps up with technology and consumer behaviour. We have to make
it simpler, and make it address the concerns of all those who have an
interest in the copyright system: business, consumers, creators and
copyright owners,” says © The Way Ahead report.

Net pirates to be ‘disconnected’ (28.10.2009)

UK Confirms Plans To Warn, Throttle, Kick Illegal Downloaders (28.10.2009)

Mandelson confident filesharing rules will work as well as French policy

Illegal downloaders spend MORE on music than those who obey the law

Book pirates advance in £5bn war of the internet (1.11.2009)

ISP Threatens Legal Action Against UK Over Anti-Piracy Plans(29.10.2009)

UK Will Urge EC To Legalise Mashups, Format-Shifting, Content Sharing

© the way ahead: A copyright strategy for the digital age (10.2009)

EDRI-gram: UK music industry shows divided opinions on cutting off p2p users