Can Someone Explain Why It Should Be An ISP's Responsibility To Deal With File Sharing?

from the it's-a-simple-question dept

Last week, we noted that there was some draft legislation in the UK making the rounds that would have ISPs ban people found to have participated in unauthorized file sharing. Some people responded by saying that this was just a draft and there was no chance it was going to go anywhere. However, the UK's Culture Secretary Andy Burnham is now saying that the government is quite serious about pushing this legislation through, and that ISPs would be wise to implement such a system voluntarily before the government acts: "Let me make it absolutely clear: this is a change of tone from the Government. It's definitely serious legislative intent." What he doesn't make clear, however, is why it should be the ISPs' responsibility to prop up someone else's business model. What's next? Will they push automakers to fight back against bankrobbers who use getaway cars?

Filed Under: business models, file sharing, isps, liability, uk

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  1. identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, 22 Feb 2008 @ 11:58am

    Differing metaphors

    The metaphor behind this bill: "ISPs carry and deliver data, just as trucks (or lorries, since it's the UK) carry and deliver cargo. We regulate how they treat cargo, especially if it's hazardous. Obviously, prudence calls for us regulate how ISPs treat data."

    The metaphor used by technology professionals: "ISPs provide you with a communication channel, just as the phone company provides a phone line. We don't make the phone company step in if you say something naughty. Obviously, ISPs should not police what you say electronically."

    Yes, we're back to "The Internet isn't a dump truck, it's a series of tubes." But all the mockery surrounding statements like that is obscuring the fact that the competing metaphor does exist, it is going to produce legislation like this, and arguing that one metaphor is "right" and another is "wrong" isn't going to do a thing about it. All you can do is start by understanding the mental model behind the legislation, and work from there.

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