File Sharing Legislation

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It seems in the next step in combating digital piracy the government has opted to step in, as news broke this week that they are considering file sharing legislation in an attempt to push internet service providers to take a more active role in the crack down of illegal file sharers.

The move is directed towards ISPs and industries who are yet to come together to fight the problem. It is thought the preferred solutions for all are voluntary partnerships between creative industries and ISPs so that regulation is not required, but this news seems to says that unless these companies come together and put such schemes in place then the government is ready to intervene.

“”For the most part I think there are going to be successful voluntary schemes between the creative industries and ISPs. Our preferred position is that we shouldn’t have to regulate,” said Lord Triesman

The argument of ISPs is that they cannot feasibly track every packet that is sent across there networks, and although a route by which illegal file sharing took place, does not condone it in any way, shape or form. Searching single data packets that are sent across networks would also break data protection laws in place to protect individuals.

The arguments currently hindering the ideal voluntary agreements seem to centre around the two issues of intellectual property rights and privacy of the user, and the stalling block is trying to find a balance between the two. Privacy advocates will object to any legislation, but it also seems true that illegal file-sharing affects the income of many musicians.

Either way it seems the pressure is increasing in regard to illegal file sharing within the UK. As previously posted about on The Shelf, the US has seen several case studies demonstrating the growing pressure to protect copyrighted material, and in such cases end user pirates have been targeted, but with this announcement came assurances that the government has no interest in hounding young teenagers who share music.

The legislation is more aimed towards “software pirates that sell bootleg copies of programs, games, movies and music, for profit”, and users of P2P programmes who download songs to listen to without paying are not being directly targeted.

This threat of legislation comes at a time when the music industry is already trying new innovative ways of combating piracy. Recently Radiohead released their latest album “In Rainbows” digitally online, with users only paying what they wanted. However even though fans didn’t have to pay anything to get the album legally it was still reportedly pirated 500,000 times.

It seems that in some instances online file sharing is as much a cultural activity as it is about saving money and making profit of bootleg copies of material with copyright in place.


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