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Ex-UK Copyright MP Calls for ISPs to Proactively Tackle Internet Piracy

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 (5:46 pm) - Score 711

The former Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, Mike Weatherley MP, has published a new paper that calls for a dramatic change to the current EU Safe Harbour provisions (this removes ISPs, in certain circumstances, from liability for the illegal activity of their customers), which would weaken some of its protections and force ISPs to act more like an Internet police force.

The MP for Hove and Portslade is of course no stranger to controversy in this field. In 2013 he called for UK ISPs to be held responsible if they “knowingly facilitate illegal downloading practices and do not take steps to stop this form of piracy” (here) and he followed that a year later by suggesting that persistent pirates should lose their “Internet rights” and be locked up (here).

Aside from seeking to lockup millions of people, many of which are children, Weatherly has also bizarrely blamed broadband ISPs and web hosts for helping to “facilitate” major hacks like the recent one that took place against Sony (here).

Suffice to say that he’s not the most popular of individuals in telecoms circles and appears to lack some understanding of how the Internet actually works. It will thus come as no surprise to read his latest contribution to the debate, a discussion paper that calls for ISPs to have fewer Safe Harbour protections and become more proactive in searching for and removing Internet copyright infringement (Safe Harbour Provisions and Online Service Providers). Weatherley also wants ISPs to breach customer privacy by monitoring their online activity.

Mike Weatherley says:

As the former Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, I felt that it was important to continue to highlight the issues that have grave consequences for our fantastic creative industries.

The creative industries are huge contributors to our economy so it vital, in order to protect them, that the regulations which were set out in 2000, are updated. The broad scope of the directive results in rights holders losing out to pirates on an industrial scale.”

Summary of the Discussion Paper’s Recommendations

Recommendation 1: The EU Commission should undertake to clarify the definition and scope of the term ISSP* for the purposes of the Directive.

Recommendation 2: The wording of Safe Harbour provisions should be amended to ensure ISSPs are accountable for properly managing content on their sites.

Recommendation 3: There should be an urgent review, by the UK Government, of the various applications and processes that could deliver a robust automated checking process regarding illegal activity being transmitted.

Recommendation 4: Consider a change to Article 15 which better reflects the scope and capabilities of today’s (and future) technology.

Recommendation 5: ISSPs to be more proactive in taking down multiple copies of infringing works, not just the specific case they are notified of.

Recommendation 6: A ‘duty of care’ to be laid down as part of the forthcoming revision of the EU copyright legal framework.

Recommendation 7: Change the word ‘expeditious’ to ‘immediate’ (in Article 14(1) of the E-Commerce Directive) and define it narrowly and unequivocally.

Recommendation 8: In relation to CCUK, review the effectiveness of the ‘three strikes’ rule applied in the USA to notifications.

Recommendation 9: With the precedent now set via CCUK, review (probably by IPO) how else information collected by ISSPs can be used in the fight against piracy without breaking privacy for those using the internet legally.

* NOTE: ISSP stands for Information Society Service Provider, which includes Internet Service Providers (ISP).

It’s worth pointing out that the paper makes a lot of classic mistakes, such as appearing to confuse Internet content and Internet access providers in its language. In reality the two types of ISP require different approaches to reflect how they work and the fact that most of the major broadband (access) providers no longer host customer content (web hosting is usually a separate service).

The paper exhibits Weatherley’s typically heavy handed approach in most aspects, although so far many of his more extreme viewpoints have not translated into policy and releasing this paper immediately before a General Election means it risks being lost in a sea of election fever. No doubt there will be those hoping that the MP ends up being voted out of office.

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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.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. tonyp says:

    I wondered about this MP’s interests and I see he has now left Parliament. Intersting also is his association with the MPAA. Well worth checking http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24889/mike_weatherley/hove for info.

  2. SSUK says:

    You would think in his time as an MP for Hove he would be more concerned with all the businesses that are having trouble down there and shutting up shop, the bin men that regularly are on strike, fighting massive council tax rises Brighton and hove council wanted and a whole lot more. Obviously though the daily living of his constituents are less important than some 12 year old (sorry he probably calls them a terrorist) downloading a movie. Good luck winning this may LOL

  3. Darren says:

    To do list for Mike Weatherley and anyone else for that matter who feels like taking away our online freedom:

    1. Go away and learn how the WWW works.
    2. Realise how ludicrous it is to think it can be controlled.
    3. Sit down and shut up.

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