It seems the creative industries are once again trying to get some form of the three strikes and you are out for illegal file sharing up and running. This is not really new news, but what is different is that we have an alliance of nine creative bodies and five trade unions backing the call.
The history of this dates back really to when the first MP3 files were made available online and services like Napster took off. With broadband speeds increasing the ability for people to download complete films at a good quality in a reasonable length of time we are seeing history repeating itself. While music downloads have dropped in price and people have more freedom as the amount of DRM (Digital Rights Management) is decreasing, with film downloads there is still limited availability and portability so that people can transfer it across the various devices they own due to DRM.
The Internet Service Providers Association has issued a response to this latest statement.
"The statement rightly calls for a Government policy that 'must ensure that the future of Broadband in the UK will be the safe and secure delivery of legal content'. Internet companies remain extremely frustrated by the ongoing difficulties in securing licensing that is needed to offer consumers legal alternatives through new models of online content distribution. It is our view that legislation on enforcement should only be introduced on the condition that the rights holder industry commits to significant licensing reform.
ISPA continues to dispute calls from some elements of the creative industries for the disconnection of users or technological measures as a method of dealing with potential infringers of copyright online. ISPA members have consistently explained that significant technological advances would be required if these measures are to reach a standard where they would be admissible as evidence in court. ISPs and consumer groups consider disconnection of users to be a disproportionate response, a view that was recently supported by the European Parliament.
ISPA is disappointed that the creative industries continue to advocate legislation on enforcement without considering how the complicated licensing processes that many stakeholders believe are at the root of the problem can be reformed. ISPA understands that the Government is currently considering legislative proposals and is in regular contact with relevant officials.
ISPA Secretary General Nicholas Lansman said, 'ISPA recognises that there is a problem with unlawful P2P file sharing, but it is important to recognise that a major part of the solution lies in licensing reform and the availability of legal content online. ISPA remains committed to working with the Government and the creative industries to find a solution which balances the needs of all parties and is fair for consumers'"ISPA Response to the Creative Industries Organisations
While the alliance of UK creative industries makes some very strongly worded points, it is not clear whether they are simply trying to protect a distribution chain that is threatened by broadband and its ability to bypass middlemen, or actually have a replacement to offer people. The Davenport Lyons cases back in 2008 revealed some of the dangers of how file sharing can be tracked and the possibilities for getting things wrong. If providers were to start disconnecting people they would want to be sure it was the right connection. There is no denying the amount of material pirated is very large, but we still have a flourishing live music and crowds of people going to the cinema. There are some who do hold their hands up to downloading music, but then do buy the tracks they like, or pay for content but use the peer to peer networks to get it at a higher quality than is available online.
If the creative industries wants to push ahead with punitive measures, it needs to ensure that fair use is clearly defined, e.g. people owning a CD or DVD can download the same music or movie in another format suitable for playback on other devices, or be allowed to rip it onto their portable devices.
No industry can stay static. Innovation and fresh ideas are always needed and at a time when people are cutting back on spending, this is even more the case. Perhaps the broadband revolution means an end to production line pop.