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Filesharers petition Downing Street on 'three strikes'

BPI, government and ISPA should be first to sign

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Money talks

There are obvious and serious problems with this system that ought to be debated in public. How will an appeals process work? Will disconnected users have any redress in the courts? Will the rights holder body or the ISP be liable? What if the accusation comes from abroad? How will a voluntary system work within the bounds of existing laws? The key point is that they are instead under discussion by corporate lawyers and bean counters behind closed doors.

It's telling that on these questions the ISPA and the BPI already speak with one voice. A self-regulatory scheme is preferable and still in the works, both say, and these details can just be ironed out.

For consumers the proposals raise justified fears about fair treatment, personal data and rights to internet access. We live in Gordon Brown's "knowledge economy", do we not? Yet the nub of all these matters for ISPs and the rights organisations is cash, not principles. The Downing Street petitioners would do well to bear that in mind.

That the decisions are being made without public input suits the government down to the ground. It knows better than anyone that laws are formal, thorough beasts, and must be consulted upon.

Everyone who cares about this needs to realise that telling the record industry "three strikes" won't restore its 1980s business model or that it is in an unwinnable arms race is pointless. That side-argument is boring, often childish, and in 2008 is best left to the pages of Digg.

Rights holders' successful Westminster lobbying has not been about stamping out illegal filesharing. The BPI et al are not stupid enough to dream that would ever be possible. Their aim is to change the mainstream perception of it as a normal online activity with no consequences. And the government now backs this aim wholeheartedly.

Nobody at any of the six ISPs that now control more than 95 per cent of the UK broadband market would dare disagree. In truth, spreading ludicrous suggestions that heavy users could be targeted simply for heavy use or FUD about deep packet inspection (DPI) suits the ISPs' negotiating goals at the moment. Their aim is not to lose any money on the deal, as ISPA conceded earlier this month when it said its primary concern is to ensure its members are indemnified against lawsuits.

For the UK's internet public, the battle over whether online copyright infringement will be more tightly controlled is already lost. Filesharers are left with the dim hope that financial squabbling between ISPs and rights holders over the next few months call the government's legislative bluff. It's the only way they'll get a say in the matter.

You're welcome to share your thoughts in our comments section, of course. Freetards, pigopolists, and everyone inbetween. ®

Bootnote

One futher piece of misinformation being spread is that the UK government got the "three strikes" idea from the French, who are indeed further ahead in implementing it.

The reverse is true. As Lord Triesman told El Reg in January, it was a meeting with our government last year that inspired Sarkozy's bunch to crack down.

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