Insult To Injury: Mandelson Wants Those Wrongly Kicked Off The Internet To Pay To Appeal

from the guilty-by-association dept

As if Peter Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill proposal wasn’t bad enough, Dave sends in yet another problem with it. While it does include a process for appealing if you are cut off for accusations (not convictions) of unauthorized file distribution or reproduction, you will have to pay up to appeal. So even if you are innocent, it will cost you money to make your case for why you shouldn’t have been cut off in the first place.

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Comments on “Insult To Injury: Mandelson Wants Those Wrongly Kicked Off The Internet To Pay To Appeal”

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John Q. Public says:

Doesn't sound like due process to me

If the government is that hard up for the cash, why not just raise taxes. Or better yet, stop wasting the revenue they already take. I know, – that is asking for way too much.

Warning – car analogy:
If I get a speeding ticket and appear in court to contest it, I only pay court costs if I lose. I do not have to pay for the privilege of the appeal. That’s the way it works here, ymmv.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Doesn't sound like due process to me

UIf I get a speeding ticket and appear in court to contest it, I only pay court costs if I lose. I do not have to pay for the privilege of the appeal. That’s the way it works here, ymmv

Unfortunately in the UK it doesn’t always work that way now – even in the case you quote.


PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Maybe you should try a bit of reading comprehension yourself. Mike does not suggest that this is unusual, only that it’s an injustice to have to pay to regain your internet connection after having it removed due to a baseless accusation. Whether or not such a charge is unusual has nothing to do with Mike’s post.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It doesn’t matter if it’s your internet connection or poorly done home repairs, the logic is the same. If you want to go to court, you pay the fees. It’s not unusual.

Also, and this is VERY important, the internet connection is going to be cut “due to a baseless accusation”, it’s a 3 strikes law, not a “one and done” deal. A user would have to be the most unlucky person on the planet to have three seperate and unique complaints over time that were all baseless. I mentioned some points in that other thread, things like open wireless, stay over visitors, other users of the computer, etc. Often “innocent” people aren’t as innocent as they claim, and they would be very unlucky indeed if they were “innocent” three times in a row.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

it’s a 3 strikes law, not a “one and done” deal. A user would have to be the most unlucky person on the planet to have three seperate and unique complaints over time

If the three strikes genuinely had to be independent I would agree with you but it is unlikely that genuine statistical independence will be a requirement. It is quite plausible that 3 strikes could come from a common cause.

As the people over at freedom to tinker will testify if you run certain perfectly legal programs in certain perfectly legal ways you still seem to attract multiple strikes.

Plus the fact that you have to be very unlucky does NOT of course mean that it won’t happen to anyone. There’s a one in 52 chance that the top two cards in a deck are same number and colour but if you search through the whole deck you find such an instance most times.

After all winning the lottery is unusual – but that does not mean that all lottery winners are cheats.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Also, and this is VERY important, the internet connection is going to be cut “due to a baseless accusation”, it’s a 3 strikes law, not a “one and done” deal.”

OK, so 3 baseless allegations then. The 3 strikes only lowers the chance of being incorrectly accused, they does not remove it.

“I mentioned some points in that other thread, things like open wireless, stay over visitors, other users of the computer, etc”

…but you ignore the other possibilities, such as IP and MAC address spoofing. I remember a case a while back where the ISP had gotten mixed up due to time zone differences and identified the wrong user as having performed the infringement.

Are you really OK with innocent people being forced to defend their innocence in court due to incompetence or having been the victim of a crime themselves? Oh, and you might want to read more about this yourself. The way I’m reading it is that there is no direct court involvement. It’s an appeals process set up by OFCOM, the government communications watchdog, and I don’t believe a court will be involved.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“If you want to go to court, you pay the fees. It’s not unusual.”

I don’t know about the UK, but in the US, you don’t pay for defending yourself against a criminal charge unless you are found guilty. There’s no part of the Miranda rights that a police officer has to read that says ‘You are required to pay court fees to contest your innocence.’ You want to discuss civil/criminal differences? I’m game, lets talk punishments when guilt is proven. Criminal charges are the only ones that have wide-ranging restrictions on freedoms (in additional to monetary penalties), while civil charges result in fines, restitutions and occasionally extremely narrow specific restrictions on freedoms. Cutting off someone’s (more specifically, an entire household’s) internet access is a wide-reaching punishment.

Also, I highly doubt that the people being accused WANT to go to court – the ones that WANT to go to court are the content owners.

“Also, and this is VERY important, the internet connection is going to be cut “due to a baseless accusation”, it’s a 3 strikes law, not a “one and done” deal.”

I agree that’s absolutely important. It is important that someone’s freedom is being restricted on the basis of accusations and not convictions, no matter how many there are.

“I mentioned some points in that other thread, things like open wireless, stay over visitors, other users of the computer, etc.”

So you are admitting you want to punish someone who is not the actual guilty party? If your roommate gets pulled over for drunk-driving, do you lose your driving license as well?

‘It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one.’ – Voltaire

Dom S says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Every report/feed/complaint/observation Mike makes, you have a counter-argument.

not that you shouldn’t have an opinion but you are repeatedly misreading what points he (and others) try to make.

Mike makes no suggestion that things are unusual or should be the way we all want them. Just that there are many injustices being brought out from this DEB.

The loss of internet connection for being sent 3 letters ACCUSING you of breaking the law is a ridiculous concept in itself. it seems that it is only being suggested because the greedy, crook scandelson has been bribed (through money/dinner/whatever, baseless accusation maybe) by industry lobbyists who want him and the gvnmt to do the hard work for them.
concerns have been raised by many many people about other users sharing/hacking wi-fi connections of other users who are not tech-savvy enough to adequately secure their connections.
There will be no-one to police these accusations (i.e no-one to come out and check your network for unauthorised users when you contest the accusation) and average users are unlikely to know how to prove it wasn’t them.

No-one can justify piracy but we can all justify the right to share information/creations. If a small (incredibly wealthy BTW) group of people dictate to us that we shouldn’t share the wealth of knowledge/art/so-called copyright material, they should expect those of us with a bit of common sense to oppose the schemes.

add to this now that there is the distinct possibility that we will have to pay just to defend ourselves from these extremely wealthy copyright-holders (mostly large corps and recording industry execs) and you have something else for us to be upset about.

my main point(s) about this entire DEB situation and about the proposed anti-piracy laws is that the people trying to enforce these things are doing them for the wrong reasons.
FIRSTLY, the government/House of Lords/MPs/etc are in place to protect, assist and govern (in a non-dictatorial way) the PEOPLE, not solely individuals with lined pockets and wealthy corps.
SECONDLY, MP’s and the government have been voted in by us to work for us… therefore shouldn’t they be asking how we (the people) see piracy (and the management of piracy) without conditioning us to believe its outright wrong??
I make no suggestion that we would all suddenly be pro-piracy but most average people out there have based their opinions on the information they have been force-fed by the media (also owned by the lobbyist-related corps) and the government propaganda (again displayed through news funded, with the exception i think of the BBC, by lobbyist-related corps)

Im probably going to get lots of tin-hat comments about this but there IS a complex infra-structure of elite/elitist individuals out there who make sure that they remain at the top of the proverbial food-chain. there is a massive wealth gap in this country (UK) which is frequently denied existence by the wealthy government officials. laws like this impose the potential for poorer people to be fined obscene sums for minor infringement/copying/sharing which they cannot afford to pay.

RANT over

IP Holder says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

A user would have to be the most unlucky person on the planet to have three seperate and unique complaints over time that were all baseless.

I quite agree. If you are accused 3 times you should be considered guilty until proven innocent.

By the way, TAM, I noticed you infringing on a copyright of mine the other day. This is your first warning, two more and you’re obviously guilty.

Does anyone else have any infringement accusations to make against TAM? Come on, we just need two more.

Modplan (profile) says:

Re: Court Fees

Nothing in that link precisely stated who or why you’d have to pay. The fee information appears to be directed towards those within the court system.

Reading further, it only seems to talk about fees for filing a case against someone, not a defendant who disputes a claim (so far, haven’t gone through it all yet).

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“When it comes to legal action in the UK, things like filing fees are not unusual:”

That kind of sophistry is silly. Pointing out the injustice in another nation’s actions against it’s own citizens is a staple of commentary. I’m sure I don’t need to invoke Godwin’s Law here to explain why not excepting what is common practice in other nations is important….

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:


This just sounds like a legalization of the extortion racket to me. I would not be surprised at all to find that some of the fees somehow end up in the hands of the copyright nuts.
It would certainly be hard for them to pull it off, but I would not put it past them to try to include that in the bill as well. Nothing like hiring the government to do most of the work for you, and have them pay you back for the little you do do (which is baseless to begin with).

Jon says:

What This Fails to Address

This 3-strikes system has one large logic-gap, which is that ordinary citizens are unlikely to have the technical skills to be able to prove their innocence, nor the money to hire experts to investigate and testify on their behalf. The government (or the industry groups who created this proposed law) do have the personnel and money to prove guilt, if they wanted. Why then should ordinary people be required to prove their innocence?

Isn’t “innocent until proven guilty” the backbone of most justice systems in the developed world?

jilocasin says:

Sounds like traffic tickets in NY

Sounds eerily similar to traffic tickets in the state of New York.

Some cop or state trooper pulls you over and writes out a ticket for some claimed infraction (speeding, running a red light, not obeying a traffic device, whatever). The ticket does _not_ tell you what the fine is. Your only options are to plead guilty, or to plead innocent and contest the ticket to a judge. If you plead guilty, a judge will tell you what you owe at a later date.

Here’s the best part, if you plead innocent there’s a _mandatory_ $85 court fee. You have to pay that fee _even_if_you_are_found_innocent.

The police are free to write tickets indiscriminately. If they write you a ticket for failing to obey a traffic sign in Buffalo, and you’ve never actually _been_ to Buffalo it will cost you at least $85 to get the chance to explain that to a judge. If the typical penalty is $50, then it’s cheaper to simply pay the ticket than the $85 fee to contest it.

See, bad copyright laws aren’t our only export to the U.K.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Can anyone else smell what's coming?

While it’s relatively easy to send out letters telling people to pay up or face the consequences, it still involves getting the names attached to the IP addresses and then a lawyer preparing and sending individual letters. With the three strikes plan, it involves three letters with a list of IP addresses.

With the costs to the copyright idiots dropping like a rock, they will kick up their campaign against piracy and start sending massive amounts of accusations. I’d guess that within a year most of the current internet users would be cut off. We already know how accurate they are at sending the current letters, how will they react when they don’t have nearly as many consequences and can bully many more people. We also know that these people don’t think logically, they have a win at all costs mind set. They’ll see what they think is a hint of piracy and send three letters just to force it to stop.

Now, we all know how this will end. The law will be revoked for fear of a nation wide riot and the sales of little plastic disks will not go up.

MAC says:

Government Legal Fees...

What in the hell do we pay taxes for? I thought it was for among other things, the court system.
The current infatuation with ‘fees’ is going to get far more expensive over the long run; just look at the banks.
What we really need is some plain old common sense. Why, why do I have to pay for something that I have already paid for again?
I can tell you why, because politicians and the like are just as greedy as the banks.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Line from the linked article

I haven’t been following this Digital Economy Bill as much as I should but this line from the linked article struck me as insane:

It [the digital economy bill] proposes that those downloading over a certain level a month could have their internet connection suspended,…

Did the article get this right? Is it not just downloading infringing content, but how much you download?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Line from the linked article

Wow, well spotted… Imagine the nightware it will be if that is the case!

Would they differentiate between P2P downloading and other uses? If so, people would just use other methods to download infringing content. If not, people who choose to stream their HD movies on the Xbox 360 would be cut off for watching too much legal content… Also imagine the nightmare if an actual cap is written into the bill – too big and it’s useless, but whatever they specify will be too small in a few short years.

Duffmeister (profile) says:

Businesses and Legal Status

If a business is a legal person under law does that mean we could apply this law to them? If so the copyright holder organizations may find themselves kicked off the internet for alleged violations.

Wouldn’t it be funny to see a company get kicked off for 3 accusations? I think so.

It also demonstrates how unusable the idea is. If an employee from a work computer commits a violation the company as a legal person would be liable and thus get thrown off the inet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mistakes are not random

The comments about someone having to be unlucky to get 3 strikes accidently sounds wrong to me. I would bet that a person who in not downloading illegal content but get a notice is very likely to get 2 more because either some other activity they are doing is getting flagged incorrectly or because activities of others are being incorrectly attributed to them. I am not staying it will never be random but I would bet the false positives group around a small number of people and are not evenly distributed.

Henry Emrich (profile) says:

Why bother?

After Reading TAM’s idiocy for a while now, I’m actually starting to think that maybe he’s smarter than he comes off: his gibberish almost reads like a parody of IP apologist clap-trap and recycled RIAA talking-points.

Has anybody considered the fact that he’s actually a sensible person (In other words, an IP skeptic) who is simply here to “play” at being an RIAA lapdog?

Certainly, his “arguments” are excruciatingly bad at the best of times. What makes me think he’s actually a sock-puppet or something is the fact that he descends into periodic bouts of almost Zen-like verbiage: “And…but…unless” — a literal “fill-in-the-blank” objection to anything and everything.

If I didn’t know better, I’d compare it to the tendency among FLOSS (Free/Libre/Open-source) computer folk to enjoy self-referential humor and elaborate put-ons.

In all likelihood, TAM is basically the Techdirt equivalent of “Jeff K.” — a gloriously inspired parody of just exactly how abysmally shallow and ultimately self-defeating IP apologist trolls actually are.

Either that, or he’s Jack Valenti’s bastard step-son, who hides under his bed at night, shaking uncontrollably because his idol compared the VCR to the “Boston Strangler”.

Or maybe he’s just “Sam I Am’s” other personality.

In any case: why are any of you bothering with TAM at all (other than to treat It like the tragically un-funny joke It really is.)

Just Sayin’ 🙂

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