Digital Britain Report Aims for a Staggering 70% Reduction in Online Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

The government's much anticipated Digital Britain Report is nothing more than hot air, promises of future action against copyright infringers and a legislative let down, according to John Lovelock, Chief Executive of FAST IiS.

According to the Report: "The Government's objective is to see the creation of an effective online download and streaming market of scale, provisioning content that is highly affordable, easily and conveniently accessible to consumers."

John Lovelock stated: "It is always the case that the devil is in the detail. We have been in consultation with Government and other Right's Holders for months and we appear to be going round in circles, or just kicking the issue of legislative intent into the long grass. Also, we the content industry still require a Court Order, Norwich Pharmacal presumably, always available and nothing new here, which will cost an estimated £10,000 each time, that's why we obtained one once and for 35 infringers it cost over £100,000 with a return of circa £12,000."

"On the positive Minister of Culture, Media and Sport, Ben Bradshaw stated 'The Government considers online piracy to be a serious offence….is effectively a civil form of theft.' Furthermore he made it clear that the government is aiming for "a reduction of the order of 70-80% in the incidence of unlawful file-sharing. However the latest research from Wiggin indicates that 67% of infringers would ignore a letter from an ISP and continue to download illegally", he added.

According to the Digital Britain Report it will be Ofcom that will be given new duties:
- notify account holders when informed in an agreed format that their account appears to have been used to infringe copyright and an obligation to maintain and
- make available data to enable the minority of serious repeat infringers to right's holders.

John continued: "Under this regime we are expected – according to the government – to witness a 70% reduction in peer-to-peer file-sharing. What planet are they on? After a year if this has not delivered on that figure then, and only then, will the government bear its teeth and introduce by Statutory Instrument, other conditions to be imposed on ISPs aimed at preventing, deterring online copyright infringement. Despite all this surely the answer would be to simply cut them off!"

Digital Britain outlined what sanctions it could impose, such as:
- Blocking
- Protocol blocking
- Port blocking
- Bandwidth capping
- Bandwidth shaping
- Content identification and filtering.

John added: "However all this is going to take over two years and there could be another government in place with a host of different priorities. So this is nothing more that too little too late. Will we have an industry still there? We should be legislating for the future of the industry."

"Under this model the government is asking the private sector to stump up the cash for enforcement and let us take on the risk. It should bite the legislative bullet now once and for all", he continued.

On the positive side FAST IiS has warmly welcomed the statement that the government accepts the argument for 'Matched penalties for online and physical copyright infringement by amending section 107 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, backed up by custodial sentences.'

John continued: "We have campaigned long and hard for equality before the law and this is a tremendous step forward and one we warmly welcome."

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