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UK Record Companies Want To Bring In 'Three Strikes' Using A 'Voluntary Code' For Punishing Alleged Illegal File Sharers

from the where-have-we-heard-that-before? dept

As we reported a few months back, the UK’s misbegotten Digital Economy Act continues to go nowhere fast, with warning letters for alleged illegal filesharing unlikely to go out until 2016, if ever. As you can imagine, the UK recording and film industries aren’t exactly overjoyed by this prospect, and have come up with Plan B, as reported by The Guardian:

Broadband providers are being asked to create a database of customers illegally downloading music, films and books, which could be used to disconnect or prosecute persistent offenders.

BT, Virgin Media, BSkyB and TalkTalk are being asked by music and film companies to sign up to a voluntary code for policing illegal downloading. Negotiations have been under way for months with the BPI and the British Video Association, whose members include the BBC and Hollywood studios.

The idea is that after three warning letters, more serious action would be taken:

Measures could include throttling internet connections to slow them down, blocking users from particular sites, disconnecting offenders from broadband for a limited period and ultimately prosecution.

Of course, this bears a striking resemblance to the “six strikes” plan in the US, and shares with it the same deep flaws, notably that it is based on allegations and that the burden is on the accused to prove that they are innocent. Compounding that difficulty is the fact that this is intended to be a purely voluntary code, and so there are no well-defined mechanisms for challenging such accusations in the courts or obtaining redress for being wrongfully accused.

Fortunately, the Guardian article indicates that UK ISPs are worried about the legal implications of creating a database of customers who are accused of illegal file sharing:

There are concerns that such a database may be illegal under the Data Protection Act, which states companies can only retain information about individuals where it is needed for commercial purposes.

Moreover, ISPs can hardly be keen to punish their own customers, who will probably just leave for another supplier. As a result, ISPs seem to be responding robustly to the idea. Virgin Media described the current proposals as “unworkable”, while TalkTalk said:

“our customers’ rights always come first and we would never agree to anything that could compromise them.”

That’s good news, but it’s troubling that media companies are trying to bring in the discredited “three strikes” approach by the back door, circumventing debate and the democratic process using a “voluntary code” that takes no account of what the general public thinks, and which provides no protections for their basic rights.

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Companies: bpi, bskyb, bt, talktalk, virgin media

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Comments on “UK Record Companies Want To Bring In 'Three Strikes' Using A 'Voluntary Code' For Punishing Alleged Illegal File Sharers”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Well, you're against "voluntary" AND "involuntary"...

The common elements are copyright, which you’re against, and “file-sharers” aka pirates and thieves, whom you’re for.

But as Google has referenced in court*: once you “share” information with a corporation, you have NO expectation of privacy. So there’s no “legal” obstacle, given that you support corporations being able to do whatever wished with “your” information.

As believe I’ve written here before, only obstacle to these plans is that ISPs don’t wish to lose customers. So all that really remains is for IP holders to figure a way the ISPs get paid out of fines. Enjoy your corporatized internet.

[* Yes, I see this is le Royaume d’Angleterre,]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well, you're against "voluntary" AND "involuntary"...

“As believe I’ve written here before, only obstacle to these plans is that ISPs don’t wish to lose customers.”

More of the following actually “There are concerns that such a database may be illegal under the Data Protection Act, which states companies can only retain information about individuals where it is needed for commercial purposes.”

But you would have no objections for the ISP’s to break the law in order to protect copyright would you as at the moment only commercial databases can be kepte. If the ISP’s makes a database now then it will not be for commercial use but for private use as the database will be used for legal purposes and that is non commerical.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Well, you're against "voluntary" AND "involuntary"...

Forget it, he’s not only masturbating about the chance to use Google in another wrong-headed analogy (using false information as should be obvious to anyone who’s actually followed the facts), but is presumably happy that he doesn’t have to find another tortured excuse to shoehorn in a Syria analogy. That 24 hours where Techdirt didn’t have a new story to impotently attack must have been hell judging by the posts today…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“if the goal is to stop piracy”

It’s clear by this point that it’s not. Spotify, iTunes and many other legal services have shown that where content is legally available on reasonable terms and prices, people will buy. Game over for pirates if legal sources can provide the same availability and convenience without a premium cost.

The problem is that a rented track or a single purchased track aren’t as lucrative as the 12 track all-or-nothing package that used to be their bread and butter. So they still lose their profits, and that’s what they’re trying to protect, whatever the excuse.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Talk about short-term memory

I seem to recall a French program named Hadopi which was government enforced equivalent of a 3-strikes rule, and it failed miserably.

Speaking of six-strikes over in the US, there hasn’t been any news in terms of ISPs sending out strikes to people (infringers or not) as far as I’ve heard since it officially rolled out. Seems like the ISPs are doing the same thing Google’s been doing with angry copyright holders: pay them a little lip-service, and then go back to business as usual. Of course, the other reason is that the file-sharing world adapted to Six-Strikes long before it actually went live, rendering it moot altogether.

Thankfully, it looks like some of the UK’s ISPs have the brains to tell the BPI and BVA to stuff it (at least for now).

As the Zen Master says, “We’ll see.”

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Talk about short-term memory

6 Strikes has sent out a few notices.
6 Strikes is also FINALLY talking about having the promised review of the review done by the ‘former’ RIAA lobbyist firm.

DtecNet, the company providing the monitoring, demanded Google delist pages carrying HBO copyrighted material… from HBO.com.

Then there was this meeting they had in DC to sell the secret sauce where it was clear they were using the Vuze client to monitor… except the terms of using Vuze clearly prohibit the very thing they are doing with it. I guess corporations never face overreaching CFAA charges.

Oh and they changed some pages on the website for 6 Strikes and didn’t bother to inform ISPs so the alternatives page was basically 404… like in reality.

Comcast is so sold on the program they are working up their own version to spy on customers and alert them. Of course if your going to spy on some content, someone will scream for the children and we go downhill from there. I expect a lawsuit over caring more about copyrighted material than stopping CP.

AT&T is working on something in the background.

The problem is Europe, in general terms, is still buying into the ‘we put billions into the economy’ lie. They claim all of this ‘lost’ money and how much better things would be once they can reclaim it with these new laws.
Except they keep destroying the rights of citizens, and no more money goes into the economy, in fact more money comes out of the economy to pay the magic soothsayers who monitor for piracy, because corporations with monopolies shouldn’t be forced to pay their own way.

Anonymous Coward says:

the one thing not mentioned here is that it is totally against EU law to disconnect anyone from the Internet. if the entertainment industries try to bring this in, i would assume they are breaking the law from the start. any ISP that then continues to punish a user for accusations only would, again i assume, be right in the shit themselves for breaking the law. you can already guess which industry would be trying to pass the buck for any actions taken, with the entertainment industries doing it’s uttermost to appear squeaky clean, saying that it didn’t implement any punishment, it was the ISP. the ISP however would certainly drag the industries into things by saying how they were really given no option but to do what the industries wanted. basically, as always, the only real loser would be the customer. we all know the way out of this ridiculous battle and we all know which party is the stumbling block. until government stop mollycoddling them, there will be no let up by the entertainment industries until they get everything they want. that is complete control of the internet saying ‘fuck you’ to every other user!

Theoden says:

Re: Re:

from the link you povided:

The Copyright Alert System?s main goal is to educate the public. People are informed that their connection is being used to share copyrighted material without permission, and told where they can find legal alternatives.

I believe that the dearth of legal alternatives that makes this such a laughable premise.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Even with legal alternatives it is still laughable.

In France it failed spectacularly, not only did it not stop pirates it made them more resilient and difficult to track.

In the US were you can get slammed with millions of dollars(see Thomas Rasset, Tenenbaumgo to jail for it. Why?

The message got out and despite all the loud noises some make, it seems most people just don’t care.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t know which country is more fascist. USA or UK?

In actual law, probably the UK (for example no right to silence when arrested). In how it acts…. a close run thing.
I would say that currently The US is more going for the CSA (Corporate States of America) and much of the massive rights-trampling is a by-product and UKCorp seems to be trying for full-on police state.

Anonymous Coward says:

Corporate Laws. That’s exactly what this is. When all other laws fail, create ‘voluntary’ Corporate Laws to impose on the competition and citizens.

Kind of like what’s happening with TPP and all the other Free Exploitation Agreements that came before it. These are all examples of ‘Corporate Laws’.

EFF refers to ‘Corporate Laws’ as, ‘Policy Laundering’. Choose your own label and slap it on the poison.

Blue (user link) says:

'Three Strikes' - no real value

To be disconnected from the internet even after 10000 Strikes would be illegal without a trial according to EU law.

The Telecoms Package
Amendment 138
The text of Article 1.3a (the so-called “Freedom Provision”) is:

“3a. Measures taken by Member States regarding end-users access? to, or use of, services and applications through electronic communications networks shall respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and general principles of Community law. Any of these measures regarding end-users? access to, or use of, services and applications through electronic communications networks liable to restrict those fundamental rights or freedoms may only be imposed if they are appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society, and their implementation shall be subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and with general principles of Community law, including effective judicial protection and due process. Accordingly, these measures may only be taken with due respect for the principle of the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy. A prior, fair and impartial procedure shall be guaranteed, including the right to be heard of the person or persons concerned, subject to the need for appropriate conditions and procedural arrangements in duly substantiated cases of urgency in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The right to effective and timely judicial review shall be guaranteed.”[4]

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