UK government proposes anti-piracy rights agency
The British government has delivered a series of proposals aimed at tackling peer-to-peer file-sharing, as part of its Digital Britain interim report.
[from Billboard] Following the memorandum of understanding last summer between labels, the film industry, six ISPs and the government, further measures are now being proposed to ensure ISPs take action against customers who are infringing copyright via peer-to-peer networks.
The report was headed by Lord Carter, minister for communications, technology and broadcasting and presented to the U.K. parliament today (Jan. 29).
There are 22 recommendations covering areas such as universal access to broadband and the future of digital radio, but the section dedicated to rights and distribution will be the part of the report that is being scrutinized by the music industry and the ISPs.
By the time the final document is published in late spring, the government says (in its interim report) that it will have "explored with interested parties the potential for a Rights Agency to bring industry together to agree how to provide incentives for legal use of copyright material; work together to prevent unlawful use by consumers which infringes civil copyright law; and enable technical copyright-support solutions that work for both consumers and content creators."
The approach is described as "civil enforcement of copyright" agreed by distributors and rights-holders. Such an agency would require a "modest and proportionate contribution," according to the report. There are already suggestions that ISPs would pass any such cost on to broadband customers.
Carter\'s report also stresses the importance of "innovative legitimate services" to meet public demand, as well as the need for education and information on "fair and appropriate uses of copyrighted material as well as enforcement and prevention work."
The memorandum of understanding resulted in ISPs writing warning letters to customers who labels trade body the BPI had identified as using peer-to-peer services to share music illegally. That process would be formalized by government legislation under the new proposals, with the government requiring ISPs to "notify alleged infringers of rights (subject to reasonable levels of proof from rights-holders) that their conduct is unlawful."
Under the proposals, ISPs would also be required to collect anonymous information on serious repeat offenders, to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order.
The proposals are all subject to further consultation. The report also states that "this is new and difficult territory, and we want to get it right. So we will review the impact of any new measures, and will not hesitate to examine other options if these do not prove to be effective."
Culture secretary Andy Burnham said in a statement: "Britain has always led the world in content creation - with the best music, films and TV - and it is vital that we carry forward this strength into the digital age. This is a significant report for the creative industries, taking steps to establish workable systems of copyright in an online age and to preserve choice of public service content. But it is only the beginning of the process and we need to work hard in the coming months to secure workable solutions."
The report was jointly put together by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.