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ISPA slams Mandy's copyright land grab

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Claims from minister Stephen Timms this morning that the Digital Economy Bill has widespread support have been thrown into question, after the Internet Service Providers Association insisted it is strongly opposed to aspects of the legislation.

Mandelson's bill gives him power to change copyright laws as he sees fit, using a statutory instrument rather than a pesky old debate in Parliament. The law will force internet service providers to write to customers accused of infringing copyright on peer-to-peer networks by rights holders like the BPI.

ISPs must also hand over address information if rights holders wish to take court action. Alongside this, Ofcom will begin using deep packet inspection* to see what impact the dark lord's actions are having on file sharing.

But ISPA boss Nicholas Lansman said: “ISPA is extremely disappointed by aspects of the proposals to address illicit filesharing. This legislation is being fast-tracked by the Government and will do little to address the underlying problem.”

ISPA believes Mandy is seizing too much power which would be better held by an independent body.

Lansman also said: “Rather than focusing blindly on enforcement, the Government should be asking rights holders to reform the licensing framework so that legal content can be distributed online to consumers in a way that they are clearly demanding.”

The body is also concerned about costs. Although investigations under RIPA must be paid for, civil investigations under the copyright laws will have to met by the ISPs.

ISPA is also opposed to suspending users' accounts because it presumes guilt and is wholly disproportionate.

The bill also provides powers for Mandelson to seize control of domain name body Nominet should it prove necessary. Nominet got itself in a bit of mess last year with a boardroom battle that led to two resignations.

For the Tories, shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said that even with his party's support the bill would struggle to get passed before a General Election. What action the Tories would take on the issue is not clear. ®

*An Ofcom PR gave us the following statement: "Should the responsibility for reporting on levels of filesharing be given to Ofcom, we would explore the effectiveness of a range of measures, from surveys and tracking studies to statistical analysis of traffic types. It is very much an issue we are considering in great detail. It is clearly not an easy task and we will be looking at what techniques are available, feasible and legal."

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