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FAST IiS Calls for Tougher Illegal File Sharing Legislation

Posted: 05th Feb, 2009 By: MarkJ
The Federation Against Software Theft and Investors in Software (FAST IiS) has given a cautious welcome to last week’s Digital Britain report (original news), which set out measures designed to inhibit illegal online P2P file sharing. However the anti-piracy group warned that the proposed measures may not go far enough.

FAST IiS's Chief Executive, John Lovelock, credited the intention to create a new Rights Agency that would bring together ISPs and content providers. But Lovelock warned that the agency would need to take account of software firms too and not just the music and film industry:

"We have to be clear that this cannot be solely focused on the music and film industries at the table with ISPs and Government with the software industry left on the sidelines looking in. Any framework moving forward has to include all right’s holders and not just the ones which yell loudest," said John Lovelock.

"One thing is clear: you cannot even hope to build a comprehensive enforcement regime if some of the digital rights holders are not included in current thinking. This is not just about film and music; tens of thousands of people work in the software industry in the UK and whilst it is not as glamorous, it makes a substantial contribution to GDP and plays a key role in creating the content for those sectors in the first place!” concluded John.

FAST IiS has also raised a serious objection to Action 13 of the Interim Report, specifically the bit where UK ISPs would be required to collect anonymised information on repeat infringers. This information would then be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order:

John commented: "What has actually moved on here? This tells us nothing that we are not already doing! And in fact in many respects this is a step back – put bluntly what is the point of so-called ‘anonymised information’? As if that is not bad enough we are as an industry going to have to go through yet another consultation, the outcome of which will be no different from any of the others we have conducted over the past few years. Can we just get on and set up a legislative framework just as Governments in New Zealand and France have."

There’s probably something to be said for trying to walk before you can run, though FAST IiS’s remarks are understandable given the lack of specifics presented in last week’s report. It remains unclear precisely what the new Rights Agency’s level of involvement will be. Questions also surround how the system will be able to identify fake (erroneous) IP’s from real ones without turning ISPs into an Internet police force.

Equally a lot of resentment has been directed towards the notion of effectively taxing every UK broadband user to help compensate rights holders for illegal downloading. Effectively requiring even innocent individuals to pay for the criminal mistakes of others doesn’t seem fair and could foster rather than inhibit online piracy.
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