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Film Companies Demand ISP's Cut-off Illegal Downloader's
By: MarkJ - 27 December, 2007 (9:56 AM)

The UK Film Council has suggested that ISP's should be prepared to suspend Internet access for those that illegally download films. The group estimates that piracy cost the industry £800m during 2005, a figure that it sure to have risen with the advent of faster broadband services.

The government has also echoed its concerns over the growing trend and is gearing up to make new proposals during 2008, one of which will be to call for the use of camcorders in cinemas to be made a criminal rather than a civil offence.

Meanwhile the UK Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) continues to argue that "ISPs are no more able to inspect and filter every single packet passing across their network than the PostOffice is able to open every envelope”. Unfortunately, no matter how true that statement may be, political and industry pressure for change is likely to result in tougher rules.

Precisely what form such rules might take is not known, although a quick glance across the channel to France where new laws were recently introduced (original news) may hold the answer (quotes from The Times Online):

Denis Olivennes, the chairman of Fnac, the DVD retailer, who conducted a review for the French Government, called for a “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” policy for individuals found guilty of internet piracy. He argued that ISPs are culpable because they encourage subscribers to take advantage of the amount of free material on the web.

That's hardly the strongest argument, especially since the whole purpose of an ISP is to give access and encourage use of the Internet. Likewise we can't recall seeing an ISP that encourages illegal downloading, indeed most include strict clauses in their Terms & Conditions against such abuse.

Does the local car dealer bare responsibility if you hit somebody crossing the road because the dealer encouraged you to drive your car? No. The government has at least acknowledged that ISP's face a technical and even legal difficulty in this area and is instead encouraging the two sides to meet. However, getting this to work may prove difficult.

Virgin Media, for example, has already stated that it "would always openly negotiate with any interested party or governing body such as Ofcom". Meanwhile BT has stated that copyright infringement is a civil (not criminal) offence and that it is “a matter for the rights holders and not for the ISPs”.

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