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Lord Mandelson sets his sights on illegal file sharing
Monday 17 August 2009 11:32:18 by Andrew Ferguson

The Digital Britain report was published in June 2009, and covered a multitude of areas including tackling illegal file sharing. The report did not lay out precise legislation but called for initially a attempt to reduce the amount of illegal file sharing before introducing more draconian measures.

Lord Mandelson whose holiday has been played out in the national newspapers is reported by the Daily Mail as launching a crackdown on internet piracy with fines of £50,000 and suspension of internet accounts.

The business secretary plans to criminalise the estimated seven million people - one in 12 of the population - who illicitly download music and films over the internet.

In what critics describe as a gross attack on civil liberties, those flouting new laws could see their internet accounts suspended and face fines of up to £50,000.

Parents could even be thrown off the net even if it is their children are caught downloading tracks upstairs in their bedrooms, not them.

Lord Mandelson ordered officials to draw up the draconian regulations days after dinner with David Geffen, who founded the Asylum record label which signed Bob Dylan.

Extract from Daily Mail article

If fines of £50,000 are ever levied for illegal file sharing then the likelihood of people going to prison for non-payment seems high, who has £50,000 lying around and potentially parents could be served the fine if their children are underage. Suspension of an internet account would also seem to go against the whole idea of Digital Britain, which is to get people online and encourage those who've never used the internet to go online, for some families proposals like this may encourage them to never go online to avoid this sort of problem.

If the proposals for tackling illegal file sharing are too harsh there is a real risk of delaying the parts of the Digital Britain bill when it comes before parliament, and with the General Election at most nine months away it would not take much to derail the bill.

Of course for the hardcore illegal file sharers, the risk of fines will be no deterrent, they will find ways to download material off-shore and then get it electronically into the UK via secure means. Stories like this were played out in the 1960's with the rise of pirate radio stations, recently dramatised in the film The Boat That Rocked.


Posted by brindy over 8 years ago
Anyone who feels strongly about this should consider joining the Pirate Party UK :
Posted by otester over 8 years ago
The Gay-Lord strikes?

Well I really can't see this going through if it goes mainstream, but then again a lot of stupid laws have been passed.
Posted by Bryan-Tansley over 8 years ago
Another example of an unelected politician criminalising the population to support a defunct industry. Just how do they prove that the download was music or film, and not a legal software update or an exchange of original content? Once again the concept of innocent until proven guilty has been brush aside.
Posted by Fixer109 over 8 years ago
'IF' this becomes law then the burden of proof will lie with the courts.
We have seen before the complete mess caused by incorrect prosecutions in this matter.
Yet again wasting tax payers money that could go to FTTC/FTTP
Posted by timchappell over 8 years ago
Strange how Mandy's interest in this arose after dinner with Gay Geffen, who has a business interest in stopping file sharing and is a billionaire......
Ol' Mandy thinks he is so clever, when his motives are really transparent!
Posted by frompton over 8 years ago
Nice to see the government have their priorities right when it comes to Digital Britain. What came first, the road or the speeding car? Give Britain the broadband structure it needs first, they worry about its possible misuse.

'Mandy' is a fool whom the general public hold little respect for. Him drawing up these draconian plans after having dinner (who paid?) with a music exec stinks.
Posted by snowcap over 8 years ago
Before the government starts to criminalize the public who pay them they should sort out their own MPs who steal our tax payers money. Has any MP been taken to court for stealing tax payers money used for second homes or duck houses?
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Don't you just love it when policy is coming from an unelected and indeed unelectable crook shortly after he has a cosy dinner with someone with a massive investment in said policy coming to fruition.
Posted by Groovehound over 8 years ago

I was just reading above about Prince Charles being unelected and influencing the planning process... Charles spends little time near St Paul's, I bet. He apparently just cares about the nation. Right?

Whereas an AMERICAN media lord unduly influencing a British government minister is not yet criticised in the same regard (present company excepted). Sexuality only matters because the minister and Geffen share their orientation. Damn anyone who's corrupt.
Posted by TGVrecord over 8 years ago
I doubt that Mandy will get the chance to introduce such draconian laws as Labour are effectively on their last legs. It does appear that the current trend is for labour to annonce new initiatives and backtracking 24 hours later!
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
You've been taken, TBB staff. This isn't really a criticism, because of how many news outlets were, but:

The story is untrue. Please correct it.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
The Register is simply saying BIS deny it. Also note use of phrases like:

"If fines of £50,000 are ever levied" and "If the proposals for tackling illegal file sharing are too harsh"

So not 100% certain of him saying these words exactly, but saying that if something like this were proprosed it would seem harsh.

Lets see how it plays out in the Autumn

Posted by amforbes over 8 years ago
I am sick of hearing about the attempted crackdown on illegal downloads, it seems the government are more interested in branding us all as pirates than providing britian with a propper digial broadband network. Rather than one that runs on outdated unreliable technology.
Posted by mishminx over 8 years ago
It is somewhat traditional for the British government to screw the consumer out of deference to business. Usually they at least take the time to tell us that it is for our own good though.
Posted by ProdMan over 8 years ago
The music industry is indeed struggling to find a working model for the digital age and this government is really dragging its feet with "Digital Britain". As much satisfaction you may get from utilising your pipe to "give it to the man", you really are ultimately hurting the gig going, music making, music loving public.

Posted by ProdMan over 8 years ago
I am enraged / amused by freetards and pirate party band wagon jumpers. Around 90% of the UK's working professional musicians earn less than £15K pa. The established artists from the 70/80/90's pushing the "give it away free" model have the advantage of a healthy gigging and merchandise income stream.
Posted by ProdMan over 8 years ago
Feel free to torrent and generally steal from working musicians / film companies, but ultimately you are just killing those bands before they get a chance to break.
Peace and all that junk,
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
ProdMan, most of these bands that don't get their chance to break are giving their stuff away via torrents to get some exposure and a chance to break, after all exposure is the main thing they require TO break. Unknown bands don't tend to be a huge target on massive trackers for wholesale theft of their tunes but those 'established artists'.
Posted by ProdMan over 8 years ago
Thats all well and good and this "model" is understood, if not a little unruly to be a professional way of getting an audience.

I believe this article is reference to unlawful downloads though, whether that musician / group is established or not, not all artists believe in the worth of the free movement. The early internet logic was - give it away and get it back in concert receipts, that just doesn't happen in reality.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
It dosn't happen? Like heck it dosn't. Most of my friends and ex-schoolmates in bands, who have a deacent sized followings don't try and make money off MP3's of their works, they get it from selling CD's and live appearences.
Posted by NetGuy over 8 years ago
@frompton - have to agree - the Govt seems to want to log all texts, e-mail and phone calls but cannot see their job would be easier if they were to invest in blocking spammers (cut of 80% or more of the e-mail).

Priorities seem to be reducing civil liberties and new laws for even more fines on public.

Someone noted they had only 3 options (passport, ID card, or both) but no 4th option of "neither ID Card, nor passport" - says it all!
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
NetGuy - You can't simply not log spam, telling what is and isn't spam is something beyond most filters, and there are plenty of ways to bury messages in "spam". So that argument's null, regardless of the rest.

(And I don't support the government's plans)

They have to get their plans past the EU, who are not being terribly sympathetic. Which is good, because they'll also stop the Tories being overly obnoxious, I hope.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
this single move has probably just won the pirate party 100s of thousands of votes overnight.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
so how many people from the street who are not millionaires/billionaires get to have one on one meetings with government ministers or the PM, why do all these one on one meetings occur if they not to influence government policy?
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
chrysalis - That'd be 100's of votes.

The pirate party's platform is an incoherent mess and it's on privacy grounds trying to do precisely what the music companies are trying to do with their product, put the genie back into the bottle.

See: D.Brin, _The Transparent Society_. They should be pushing for universal access to these technologies, not the doomed path of "don't look at us".
Posted by authoriseduser545 over 8 years ago
Let me see . . . . "Lord Mandelson [jewish] ordered officials to draw up the draconian regulations days after dinner with David Geffen [jewish], who founded the Asylum record label which signed Bob Dylan [jewish]."
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
So, you're [an anti semite conspiracy theorist] then?
Posted by pigfister over 8 years ago
so i could stalk someone, rape & murder them and burn their house down, and face a lesser fine than downloading a song from teh interweb, hmm that punishment fits the crime.

its a sad day when a crime against a company or tax evasion is looked on as more serious than a crime against another person!

it shows the state of play in the UK.
Posted by dragon1945 over 8 years ago
I do not indulge in illegal file sharing but it seems I could get charged "by accident". It is practically impossible to get the mistakes in official files sorted.
I pay for my BB, not the odious Mandy, so he can butt out of my affairs. My mobile is not registered to me or anyone else. It cost £4.50 + £10 top up. Mobiles and Freeview don't work out here. Mandy should use his clout to get relay masts put up so that people like us could actually use mobile phones, mobile BB, and Freeview, instead of toadying up to rich businessmen?
Posted by spruance over 8 years ago
Another few million votes down the pan there then. Does this Government have a death wish?
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Oh look...

'It is believed that Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has intervened personally to beef up the policy.'
Posted by dannyboy60 over 8 years ago
if they can't stop the pirates in the far east, and even now in the english channel, how are they gonna stop them on the interweb ?
mandy's got his nose so far up the media industry's ass he must be walking with a stoop.
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