The explosive revelation over British ISPs being forced to become the copyright police have certainly caught many peoples attention.
Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes
Now a new revelation that could send a chill down the backs of digital rights activists has surfaced recently.
A few days ago, we revealed that ISPs caved to pressure from the copyright industry to become copyright cops. The copyright industry, namely the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), was quick to praise the move.
Now, a leaked letter dated just two days before the major revelation has surfaced and shows that the British government is just as adamant over the idea of ISPs being copyright police as the major copyright industry – if not, more so. The Guardian is reporting that the British government has secretly set a goal of reducing file-sharing by 80% over the course of the next three years. The letter was signed by Baroness Vadera, the business minister.
From the report:
“Although this letter has no effect on the agreement, which stands in its own terms, this may help to ensure all signatories have the same expectations,” Vadera wrote.
“I would regard a reduction as ‘significant’ if it had reduced the number of people filesharing unlawfully in the UK by well over 50%, and we hope in the region of 70%-80% from a baseline to be agreed, with work to start immediately, rather than waiting for legislation.”
Industry estimates put the number of illegal filesharers in the UK at between 6 and 7 million people.
“Success will significantly depend on the effectiveness of the letter writing, awareness raising and other measures,” Vadera adds.
It’s interesting to think that sending 8 million letters will get 6,400,000 filesharers off P2P – particularly when one factors in things like open WiFi and wardriving to name a few. Even still, is there really an action plan to separate those who downloads Britney Spears and the latest Jamendo release?
One also wonders if it’s really a good idea for the government to endorse a policy that would upset at least 13.3% of the population of Britain who would receive copyright threat letters – an amount that means more than the difference between the current governing party and the Liberal Democrats which is the third largest party in the government according to the British Council.
It’s never a good sign when the government sides with a particular interest group entirely – especially when they originate from outside of the country as clearly demonstrated here. The 800 threat letters sent by Virgin Media early this month wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms, so one can only imagine what would happen if the number of letters goes up by 1000%.
Currently, the Open Rights Group is open to feedback on the legislative approach in all of this so they can respond to the consultation about to be held on October 30th.