Study Shows Educational And Social Harm 'Three Strikes' Punishment Would Cause Young People
from the better-late-than-never dept
One of the extraordinary aspects of the “three strikes” approach to copyright enforcement is its blind vindictiveness. After three or so alleged acts of infringing on copyright, it’s not one individual that’s punished, but the entire household that depends on the family Internet connection in question, irrespective of the personal situation of those affected. This kind of collective punishment is something that is regarded as abhorrent in other contexts, but the power of the copyright industries is such that several governments around the world followed the French lead and introduced precisely this kind of scheme, and to hell with the damage it might cause to innocent and vulnerable people caught up in it.
A major issue is that no research was carried out before introducing the legislation in order to understand just what its wider effects might be — pretty much the only exploration of the consequences is in Cory Doctorow’s “Pirate Cinema”, the Techdirt Book Club’s current choice. That’s typical of the evidence-free way that copyright legislation is drawn up and passed, but it is particularly unforgiveable here because some belated research shows just how serious the knock-on damage is likely to be for some:
Teenagers who do not have access to the internet in their home have a strong sense of being ‘educationally disadvantaged’, warns the study. At the time of the study, the researchers estimated that around 10 per cent of the teenagers were without online connectivity at home, with most of this group living in poorer households. While recent figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest this dropped to five per cent in 2012, the researchers say that still leaves around 300,000 children without internet access in their homes.
The researchers’ interviews with teenagers reveal that they felt shut out of their peer group socially and also disadvantaged in their studies as so much of the college or school work set for them to do at home required online research or preparation.
The research is about homes that do not have an Internet connection for economic or other reasons, but clearly the same consequences could be expected for those that were cut off as a result of a “three strikes” punishment against someone in the same household. Students in families affected are likely to be educationally and socially at a considerable disadvantage. Fortunately, as Techdirt has reported, the “three strikes” approach seems to be collapsing under its own weight in France, and more or less ruled out in the UK for legal reasons.
That’s just as well, since this new research suggests that the knock-on consequences for young people caught up in this scheme would have been serious and long lasting as far as their employment prospects and social integration were concerned. Moreover, it’s not hard to see that the impact on everyone in the families affected would have been similarly disproportionate in terms of cutting them off from online government and business services that are now practically indispensable for modern life.
It’s shameful the governments concerned either didn’t even consider these issues before plunging ahead with their “three strikes” laws, or did, but simply didn’t care about the suffering they would cause. In either case, it shows once more how they are more interested in pleasing their friends in the copyright world than in serving the people that elected them.