Britain Mulling 'Technical Measures' against Internet Pirates
Britain is considering the possibility of tackling persistent internet pirates through “technical measures” instead of the “three strikes” approach advocated by music companies. This information is part of the comments recently made by culture secretary Andy Burnham in a keynote address at Music Week’s Making Online Music Pay conference.
The music industry has been losing millions of dollars in revenue every year due to online music piracy. To remove this menace, music companies called for a so-called three strikes law that would first issue official warnings to such digital content’ pirates and then disconnect their internet connection if the warnings are ignored.
The government commissioned the Digital Britain study to get a comprehensive idea about the status of online music piracy and the measures required to be taken to bring it under control. Broadband speeds to internet regulation and public service broadcasting to criminal measures – all aspects were reviewed under the study.
An interim report was released on 29 January, with the final report likely to be tabled on 16 June. While it was believed that the report strongly advised termination of a pirate’s internet connection, Secretary Burnham’s comments suggest otherwise. He stated that disconnection was not the government’s “preferred option”.
While the culture secretary did not give information about the measures suggested in the report, a spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport did shed some light on it. “The Digital Britain report coming out soon will build on last year’s Memorandum of Understanding between content holders and ISPs to tackle illegal file sharing. It is likely to include an obligation on ISPs to send out letters to people who are infringing copyright,” he said.
Elaborating on Secretary Burnham’s comments, the spokesman added, “What Mr Burnham also said was there was the likelihood that the MoU would be backed up by new powers for Ofcom to impose ‘technical solutions’ for repeat offenders if that process of sending out letters was not effective enough.”
While the specific technical solutions suggested have not been revealed, Secretary Burnham hinted at ways of “limiting or restricting” file-sharing activity.
Reacting to the comments, VP at Forrester Research Mar Mulligan said, “It instinctively sounds like a decent compromise.” He believes the measures mean pirates would have restrictions placed on their internet bandwidth and usage. “We know that ISPs currently use a mix of technical solutions to manage traffic at peak times,” he said, “The ISPs already have the technical infrastructure to implement this kind of stuff.”
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