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Harriet Harman MP Demands Implementation of UK ISP Anti-Piracy Measures

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 (7:27 am) - Score 239
labour party uk

The Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Harriet Harman MP (Labour Party), has demanded that the UK government establish a “clear timetable” for implementation of its highly controversial Digital Economy Act (DEA), which aims to reduce internet copyright infringement (piracy) by imposing a series of costly new measures upon broadband ISPs and their customers (e.g. warning letters, service restrictions, disconnection etc.).

The DEAct, which was created by the previous Labour government, has faced significant opposition from consumer groups and political opponents. At the same time some of its proposed measures, such as mandatory website blocking, have already been thrown out (here – though a voluntary solution is still in development for the forthcoming Communications Bill).

Broadband ISPs BT and TalkTalk are also involved in a new appeal against their initially failed request for a Judicial Review (JR) of the DEAct (here). Both providers claim that the act is incompatible with EU law and a decision is due soon. Suffice to say that the DEAct has faced significant delays. Last week Harriet Harman told the University of Hertfordshire that now was the time to get the job done (sorry we forgot to cover this last week).

Harriet Harman MP said:

The government should … implement the Digital Economy Act under a clear timetable including getting on with the notification letters and publishing the [Ofcom] code of practice.

[It must also] lead and set a deadline for agreement in the industry for site blocking, search engine responsibility and digital advertising. The music industry – and other creative industries – say that if the government got a move-on, they could do this by May this year.”

Harman Suggests that the government should also make it clear that any lack of agreement would result in the measures being “legislated for” in the forthcoming Communications Bill, which would help her idea of a “public policy imperative to protect rights owners” (how about protecting citizens too?). She also wants to see the technology industry and content creators coming together to “educate and signpost consumers [towards] legal access” services and content.

In reality there’s not much left for the DEAct to legislated for that it hasn’t already covered and mandatory site blocking was thrown out last year; voluntary solution notwithstanding. Harman’s full speech is available on her website, which references old 2009 research from the University and UK Music that found how more than 60% of 14 – 24 year olds were downloading music without paying for it (it doesn’t say how many tracks they downloaded or whether they also paid for other music).

The related study also discovered that 85% of P2P downloaders would be interested in paying for an unlimited, all-you-can-eat MP3 download service (the kind that rights holders have always opposed). 57% of these said such a service would stop them using unlicensed P2P services, and 77% that they would still continue to buy CDs. As usual it’s important to remember that somebody who downloads 500 tracks probably would never have brought that many in the first place.

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