UK Govt Plans “2-Strikes” for File-Sharers Instead of 3

Will now only send one warning letter to those accused of illegal file-sharing before it implements technical measures that include Internet disconnection.

UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and his Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has apparently been quite successful in lobbying for legislation to implement its “evolved” measures for tackling illegal file-sharing.

So successful in fact, that a “three-strikes,” i.e. two warning letters followed by Internet disconnection, graduated response system has been dropped to a mere two. That means accused illegal file-sharers will get a single warning before being locked out of the so-called information superhighway.

The govt says it will warn people at first, but if it proves insufficient it will begin disconnecting people beginning in the spring of 2011.

“It is good news for fans of British music that government is now introducing legislation to tackle illegal downloading,” said Geoff Taylor, chief executive the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). “The creative sector in the UK needs new measures implemented urgently that address this problem for now and the future if the UK is to lead Europe in giving consumers innovative and high quality digital entertainment.”

Mandelson feels that the current timetable, which stands at 2-3 yrs for a 70% reduction using a combination of notifications and technical measures, would take an “unacceptable amount of time to complete in a situation that calls for urgent action.”

The Open Rights Group, a UK-based group of people who aims to preserve digital rights and freedoms, has roundly criticized the proposal, and notes that copyright infringement accusations can only be made against a connection and not an individual.

“Appeals mechanisms may be appropriate when it is clear that evidence is robust, and the punishment is clear: but with this proposal neither is true,” it says. “Evidence cannot show who may have infringed copyright, only what connection was used. And the punishment could have an enormous range of effects, from being disruptive to removing someone’s ability to earn a living.”

It adds that “three-strikes” is not a silver bullet to end piracy, and that a better plan is to encourage copyright holders to meet consumer demands. It cites South Korea as an example of what “three-strikes” really means.

After becoming the first country to threaten accused file-sharers with Internet disconnection this past July, copyright holders are still finding that rampant piracy exists. They’ve now decided to ratchet up the battle even further by warning all P2P sites to install filters preventing users from uploading copyrighted material by the end of the year or face “stern legal measures.”

Even that will be an effort in futility and file-sharers will simply turn to alternatives as they always have and always will.

Stay tuned.

[email protected]