UK Music Biz Backs Govt. On Suspending Pirates’ Internet

The music business is backing Peter Mandelson’s proposal that some illegal downloaders should have their ISP accounts suspended.

In its submission to the business minister’s recent consultation on his new suggestions, seen by paidContent:UK, UK Music – representing labels group BPI, AIM, BASCA, MPA, MU, PPL and PRS for Music – supports adding suspension to a list of “technical measures” which Ofcom would direct ISPs to carry out after transgressors receive warnings about their habits.

ISPs who don’t warn customers could be fined, the group says. But it wants “safeguards and functional definitions” to distinguish between “casual infringers” and “egregious or persistent infringers”, with temporary suspension of broadband accounts “applicable only as a last resort against the latter”.

Quicker action supported: UK Music is also supporting Mandelson’s proposal that Ofcom should investigate how to implement these “technical measures” (which would also include bandwidth throttling) now, rather than wait to see if a system of warning letters reduces piracy by 70 percent, as Stephen Carter’s Digital Britain paper had proposed.

Costs plan not backed: But it disagrees with Mandelson that costs for operating these measures should be borne 50/50 between ISPs and record labels, proposing instead that the rightsholders pay for detecting infringers while the ISPs pay for communicating with them. Seems like a sensible split.

How many strikes?: UK Music says a “limitation on the volume of notifications” is not “advisable” since “the number of notices generated by rights holders will inevitably be limited … given the costs involved in identifying infringers and presenting evidence”. The group wants an “escalation in tone” of warning letters. But this leaves the exact process open to interpretation in individual circumstances, rather than the kind of “warn, warn again, the disconnect” scheme being implemented in France. So, how many strikes? How long is a piece of string?

This comes as little surprise…

In July, UK Music had already said measures in the original Digital Britain, which lacked the option of disconnections or suspensions, “will still not be enough” to reduce piracy by the target of 70 percent within two to three years.

It called for a system of account suspensions running from 72 hours to four months.

The deadline for Mandelson’s consultation on his ideas comes on Wednesday.