Tuesday 7 July 2009

Musical pirates: can the UK turn down the volume?

Writing for Times Online yesterday ("Government changes tune on music piracy promise"), Media Editor Dan Sabbagh reports that the UK's Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has apparently stepped back from a promise, made in July 2008, to reduce the volume of internet music piracy by 70 per cent over the next two years. This was part of a three-way agreement between the Government, internet service providers and media companies. However, according to the contents of a letter which the Minister wrote to Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster on 22 June, a copy of which has been passed to The Times, he has qualified that commitment, stating that the two- to three-year timescale was “based on the premise” that measures to combat piracy would be “taken from July 2008 onwards”. Those measures were the sending of warning to internet subscribers with a connection through which piracy had been taking place. While leading internet service providers agreed to participate, the results of this modest initiative have yet to be published.

Don Foster is quoted in the article as saying:
"This is another example of the Labour Government’s total inability to meet its own targets. Having wasted years, they now want to move the goalposts and hope we don’t notice".
The Digital Britain White Paper reiterated, at p. 112, the 70 per cent target, without mentioning when it might be achieved. A proposed Digital Economy Bill is expected to require internet service providers to write warning letters to households where piracy is found to have taken place, with ISPs having to hand over personal details of serious repeat infringers so that they can be taken to court. However, this Bill is unlikely to come into law before 2010, some 18 months after the original commitment to reduce piracy by 70 per cent was given.

1 comment:

Hugo said...

The consultation on legislation to address illicit P2P fileseharing has a time line on p. 23.