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MEPs say anti-piracy plans conflict with human rights
Monday 14 April 2008 10:37:14 by Andrew Ferguson

The debate over new laws that could force broadband service providers to throw suspected file-sharers off the Internet has reached the European parliament. BBC News reports that MEPs voted narrowly in favour for an amendment to a report on the creative industries written for the European parliament.

The amendment raised the issue of human rights and civil liberties - "avoid adopting measures conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness, such as the interruption of internet access.".

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has said the amendment was badly drafted and a contradiction to the contents of the full report.

"We look forward to a full discussion in the European Parliament in the coming months on how best to address copyright theft online"

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)

As the law stands, media rights owners can take individuals to court over copyright infringement, but this path is generally slow and may for the average file sharer cost more to pursue than the sales lost from the sharing. The discussion in the UK is generally around a set of laws not unlike what France is to implement, whereby those found sharing copyright material without permission will receive warnings via their Internet service provider and face eventual disconnection.

Many UK broadband providers have opposed these plans since the list of data showing who has been engaging in allegedly illegal file sharing will not have gone via a court and would appear to be very open to errors. Issues like hijacked wireless connections, kids who don't understand the law, cloned cable modems and plain old human error could result in users getting warnings by mistake and some people losing their broadband connection, particularly if they ignore warnings in the belief they were not responsible.

If broadband providers are to act as the copyright police, it will make them even more unpopular and is unlikely to force the heaviest offenders to convert into music buying people. The root cause of illegal music sharing is the cost of filling an MP3 player--A physical album CD will cost between £7 and £15 whilst downloading a full album can at times be more expensive than buying the CD. A single track generally costs between 60p and 90p, so someone wanting to put 100 songs onto their MP3/WMA player will end up spending more on the music than the cost of the player itself. Also, if they bought music with Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, they may have to spend this money again to fill up a new player that they have bought.

The whole music and video copyright issue needs to be tackled from various angles. Most proposals so far are punitive with no reward for those who follow the law.


Posted by c_j_ over 9 years ago
"The root cause of illegal music sharing is the cost of filling an MP3 player"

A major cause, but there are also some mickeytakers around. Some apparently want music for free, others apparently want money for nothing.

"Theft" has a specific legal meaning. "Copyright theft" is meaningless, about as meaningful as me saying it's theft for the IFPI's member companies to take 50% of the money from online music sales (they get around ten times as much as the performer gets, and around ten times as much as the writer gets). See
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
The offence generally commited is "unauthorised copying of copyright material", yes. But that's less snappy than "theft".
Posted by TheBaron over 9 years ago
Thanks for that Tom Robinson link c_j_

Hope Tom covers his costs, hope other artists do the same thing successfully too.
Posted by beeflin over 9 years ago
Speaking as a musician I have no objection to people who can't afford to buy taking a free copy. It doesn't deprive anyone else of their copy, so it isn't "theft" - it's just the wrong word for not paying for a licence - and they wouldn't be spending the money anyway. Furthermore, just like copied software, copied music advertises and promulgates the product to the notice of those who do pay. What does piss me right off is people who CAN afford it taking free copies. That's just plain mean.
Posted by TerFar over 9 years ago
Piracy of music & movies is caused by the industries failing to provide for consumers’ needs. Who wants shelves full of DVD & CDs gathering dust, which once ripped will never be used again? Let me download QUALITY music and video at a reasonable cost.

Why should I pay for all the marketing, distribution and fat cat middlemen? Give me simple login, pay, download at sensible cost and I'll stop downloading from torrent sites.

Think of the environmental benefits too: no CDs or DVDs manufacture pollution, no packaging and no transport.
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