Updated Digital Britain report recommends, yes, to kick pirates off the Internet


Potentially bad news for you UK readers. An amendment to the big Digital Britain report would kick off “hardcore copyright pirates” from the Internet. The amendment would require ISPs to tell repeat offenders to knock it off, or else. The cost for doing this—it’s not exactly inexpensive to keep track of copyright infringement, mail out letters, etc.—will be burdened by both the ISPs and rights holders.

We all know why this is happening: rights holders there (the UK’s version of the RIAA and MPAA) are freaking out because they never bothered to update their business model, and now are seeing their business (standing in between musicians and their fans, “distributing” music) blow up. Ten years ago, all these companies should have seen the success of Napster, hired the best and brightest right out of college, and have them develop a service that would have limited the proliferation of Internet piracy. I’m thinking OiNK and What.cd: far and away better than what iTunes offers, in both selection and file quality. Now, if the record labels had introduced something like those sites in 2000, or 2001, charged a reasonable amount, they wouldn’t be in this position today.

Again, read Ripped for more on how the music industry screwed itself so, so badly.

But anyway, this UK thing. For their part, the Internet Service Providers’ Association claims to be “disappointed by the proposal to force ISPs to suspend users’ accounts.” It even referenced an earlier ruling by the European Parliament that called kicking people off the Internet a violation of people’s basic rights.

In a coup, I asked in a bunch of file sharing-related IRC rooms that I idle in all day—Linikus for Mac OS X is a great piece of software, even if the thought of paying for an IRC client is 100 percent bonkers—what UK users thought about all of this. They’re very skeptical, with one user claiming outright that “it’ll never happen.” He gets letters from Virgin (a big ISP in the UK) all the time, yet nothing ever comes from it. So if this whole campaign is there to scare people, well, it doesn’t seems to be working.

Hold onto your hats, everyone.