UK Govt Wants ISPs to Crack Down on Illegal File-Sharing

Wants ISPs to do it voluntarily, but if fails will enact laws to get them to comply.

In an interview with the BBC, Lord Triesman, the parliamentary Under Secretary for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said intellectual property theft would no longer be tolerated.

In the wake of recent UK crackdowns on sites like OiNK and TVLinks, it seems that the UK govt is gearing up for an all out offensive on illegal file-sharing of copyrighted material.

Lord Triesman called on ISPs to take a “more activist role” in the problem of illegal file-sharing and that “”If we can’t get voluntary arrangements we will legislate,” he said.

A spokesman for the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) claims that “ISPs cannot monitor or record the type of information passed over their network. ISPs are no more able to inspect and filter every single packet passing across their network than the Post Office is able to open every envelope,” he adds.

“ISPs deal with many more packets of data each day than postal services, and data-protection legislation actually prevents ISPs from looking at the content of the packets sent,” he continued

Triesman also said that “where people have registered music as an intellectual property, I believe we will be able to match data banks of that music to music going out and being exchanged on the net”. He followed up his statement by suggesting that the government had no interest in “hounding 14-year-olds who shared music,” and instead would focus on tracking down those who made multiple copies for profit.

How ISPs are able to determine who’s a 14yo and who’s making money isn’t mentioned, but what’s odd is that he doesn’t seem to realize is that most BitTorrent tracker sites or P2P programs aren’t necessarily about making money so how do they fit into this crackdown scheme?

“We have some simple choices to make,” he continues. “If creative artists can’t earn a living as a result of the work they produce, then we will kill off creative artists and that would be a tragedy.”

Again, what he doesn’t seem to realize here is that artists barely make any money off of their music albums, it’s the record companies who take a lion’s share of the profits. It’s common knowledge that music artists primarily make their money form concerts and merchandising, so who exactly is afraid that they’ll be “killed off?” It’s certainly not music artists.

The only group really for it, surprise, surprise, is the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which made no attempt to hide it’s pleased with the government’s tough line.

“We greatly welcome the government reiterating its view that ISPs should work with us to tackle the problem of internet piracy, or else face legislation,” said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI.

“ISPs operate the pathways to digital music consumers. Through our talks with the ISP community we are hopeful that together we can arrive at voluntary co-operative agreements that work to the benefit of the whole digital marketplace,” he added.

What the UG govt and the BPI fail to recognize however, is that you would never be able to accurately identify copyrighted versus noncopyrighted material. There’s just no way.

As Cory Doctorow, someone quite familiar with copyright issues points out, “You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s an actual computer scientist involved in digital signal processing who believes that you can accurately identify copyrighted works with any kind of reliability in a variety of situations.”

What it really seems to be happening here is that as usual you have the music industry using the very artists it rips off on a daily basis as posterboys for why their industry needs assistance in its battle against illegal file-sharing. What they leave out though is that the artists were already starving thanks to them, and the only people really losing money are music industry executives.