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UK Intellectual Property Advisor Threatens Fresh Piracy Legislation on ISPs

Saturday, December 28th, 2013 (11:23 am) - Score 1,519

The UK Prime Minister’s new Intellectual Property Advisor, Mike Weatherley (Conservative MP for Hove and Portslade), has threatened fresh legislation against broadband ISPs that “knowingly facilitate illegal downloading practices” and do not take steps to stop it. But it’s unclear what could be changed that hasn’t already been tried.

The September 2013 appointment of Weatherley to his new advisory role had already raised a few eyebrows due to his less than impartial history, which has seen him campaign for the interests of Rights Holders in Parliament. Weatherley has also been a Vice President (Europe) for the Motion Picture Licensing Company since 2007.

The MP has now offered a fresh insight into his new role, which was given as part of an article for the World Intellectual Property Organization. In that he reveals some criticism of Rights Holders for being too quick to say “no” rather than “how?” when presented with ideas for new business models and a desire to foster better education for tackling Internet piracy.

But at the same time Weatherley has also hinted towards the possibility of returning to the old mantra of ENFORCEMENT through new legislation, which is an unusual call given how the Digital Economy Act’s (DEAct) system of ISP warning letters has yet to be fully introduced and might not arrive until late 2015 or 2016 (here). The related discussions over the possibility of an intermediate voluntary solution have also failed to produce a workable system.

Mike Weatherley said:

Society needs to reward those who create. The public needs to get behind the message that getting something for free (or below suitable price) for short-term personal gain, results in innovation and creativity floundering to the detriment of all. So it all starts with effective messages and education about industry’s position and the consequences of not getting the copyright policy framework right.

Industry then needs to take a lead and give consumers what they want in a rapidly changing market. Industry needs to make sure the ‘carrot’ is attractive. And then, if all else fails, there needs to be legal support from legislators.

Government must back up industry by putting the necessary enforcement mechanisms into place. This would include holding Internet Service Providers responsible if they knowingly facilitate illegal downloading practices and do not take steps to stop this form of piracy.”

The comments, given the existence of current legislation, would perhaps seem more at home in a speech from 2008. Indeed it’s unclear what new legislation could achieve that hasn’t already been tried. Websites deemed to infringe copyright are already being blocked via court orders (albeit to only questionable impact) and the warning letters should be introduced within the next couple of years, assuming they aren’t delayed or shelved again.

It’s possible that the UK might thus consider following France, which has scrapped its similar “three-strikes” style threat of Internet disconnection for repeat offenders with a system of automatic fines (here). Alternatively they could attempt to go after specific services, such as Proxy Servers and Virtual Private Networks (VPN) that make it possible to surf with some degree of anonymity, although it would be incredibly difficult to differentiate between perfectly legal and illegal use (especially on non-UK based services).

But for now Weatherley doesn’t appear to have any new ideas up his sleeve.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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17 Responses
  1. dragoneast says:

    Lords and MPs (and lots of their friends in high places) need to get the message that getting something for free (or below suitable price) for short-term personal gain, results in the detriment of all. They should start by practising before they preach.

    1. James says:

      Best comment ever, well played that man

  2. Adrian says:

    “The public needs to get behind the message that getting something for free (or below suitable price) for short-term personal gain, results in innovation and creativity floundering to the detriment of all.”

    I assume he has not heard of the thriving open source community in software, even though he probably uses free open source software in his mobile phone!

  3. darren says:

    I believe all this is nonsense getting something for free results in the detriment of all lords and Mps need to get the message out they have a dam cheek

  4. Greg says:

    These muppets never learn, and need to keep their noses out. Of the trough!

  5. Sledgehammer says:

    Lets see him try and bring some realy drastic, heavy handed laws through in the form of law and make a unholy hash of it in the process. This country is run by a bunch of idiots, no wonder we are in such a dire mess.
    Will it get worse, yes. Role on doomsday!!!

  6. CrazyLazy says:

    Obviously ate one too many plates of Turkey leftovers which had not been refrigerated correctly and is now utterly delusional.

  7. dragon2611 says:

    I don’t think it was the left over Turkey…

  8. timeless says:

    l wonder how much he was paid in lobbying fees to put his support behind it.

  9. Bob2002 says:

    All Mike Weatherley has to do to stop copyright infringement is introduce blocking. Since blocking obviously works he’ll have nothing more to worry about.

  10. hmm says:

    once upton a time there was the internet and all was good
    now there is nothing but a big shopping channel
    and fast internet for nothing switch it off and be done

  11. timeless says:

    to be quite honest tho, all the government want to do is control the internet, and while they may pussyfoot around the issue in the name of copyright infringement in reality their ideals have nothing to do with media companies..

    imho its just an easy issue to use which would allow them to sneak in ways to try and controlling information.. after all they say knowledge is power, and lm inclined to agree with that statement, after all if some knowledge is known it can easily take down a politician or two.. and that scares them considering most in parliament only care about their political careers rather than those they are supposed to serve.

    1. dragoneast says:

      I think there’s a modern question “what are politicians for?”. “Make laws” is the easy answer, but that isn’t some magic wand – even God’s Ten Commandments didn’t create a perfect world. Since, rightly, they no longer run business and regulation and administration has been made hands-off, to me they seem to be left acting as some sort of self-appointed intermediary between business and its customers, us the public; or with this public lecturing to both business and the public on what we should or should not do. But do many people say, as I do, “thanks, but no thanks”; I can sort out my own problems, and believe there is nothing that cannot be made worse by the intervention of a politician? What is the poor (in spirit, rather than income) politician to do? Even those like Obama, on the international stage, who come with an armful of promises to great fanfare, achieve hardly anything. And how much do politicians really “decide”?

  12. darren says:

    All this anti piracy legislation is a waste of time and money the Government needs to totally scrape that legislation it was based on no evidence it was railroaded through its everyone elses fault it has no support from the public I don’t think it can be implemented give it up

    1. X66yh says:

      …Until of course it is YOUR work which is pirated, used, copied for someone else’s gain and at your expense: and then mysteriously you will suddenly be in favour of anti-piracy legislation.

      Its not just big companies you know, I’ve seen entire websites just copied and used as if it was the person who copied it own idea and creation. It really was quite brazen with no reference anywhere that they had done and that had no input whatsoever into the original website let alone any links back to it.
      But then I expect this person was against copyright and anti-piracy legislation as well….no surprise there!

    2. dragoneast says:

      The Courts can already take action on piracy. The problem is making action effective. And shouting, whether for or against, doesn’t do anything to solve that problem. Arguably copyright, even in the pre-internet age, was more honoured in the breach than the observance. And the internet doesn’t recognise national boundaries anyway. I try to behave responsibly on-line as, I suspect, do most people (and in real life too) even paying when it’s “optional” out of fairness. Some people take advantage. They always do. That’s a business risk in any walk of life, but clumsy enforcement can easily make things worse. Not least by alienating the reasonable majority. It would be wonderful if we could use the law to make mankind good. You can’t. The innocent will suffer. They always do. But the law is a clumsy and ineffective tool, for when all else fails. At best it buys you a bit of time. The market has to find a way to cope by adapting, the law so often just stifles innovation. But it’s so much easier for someone else to sort out our problems isn’t it? Except they don’t. In all walks of life we have to work around a problem, or find a way to live with it, if we can’t.

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