Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

British internet users to get the boot.

It looks like the British are likely to soon find themselves shut out of an open 'net. 

People who download unauthorized materials will be cut off from the internet under new legislation to be proposed next week, based upon recent French legislation. 

Internet service providers (ISPs) will be asked to voluntarily comply with the new proposals soon, and, should they refuse, the big media companies behind these proposals will take legal and/or legislative actions to compel them to take action against users who access material that the music, film, and television producers claim is pirated. 

That's really the big point here... it's not that people will be busted for pirating, per se. It's that they will be busted for downloading material that some company claims is copyrighted. Could that be a mash-up? A fansubbed overseas television show? A YouTube video? A link on a friend's weblog or on one of the many music-oriented weblogs out there? An mp3 or copy thereof that was originally free on an artist's website? A mp3 that was legally downloaded under the royalty rights of another country, such as those less expensive overseas music sites? A funny clip from The Daily Show?! Audio that's streaming on a website, perhaps?! 

Short answer: Your guess is as good as mine. 

The definition of what constitutes a "suspected" copyright violation in this case is whatever the content producer in question says it is. In that sense, it does a complete end-run around the law or any kind of legitimate review. You can even imagine situations where more than two different companies claim ownership of copyrights -- such as happened with the whole Michael Jackson / Beatles catalog issue years ago -- and people find themselves permanently losing their ISP connectivity based on illegitimate or conflicting copyright claims.  

And as for any idea of "fair use" or use for educational purposes... well, what's that?! It simply doesn't figure in to the mechanism of enforcement. The law is very grey on such matters in Britain.  There is no effective court of appeal on such service disconnects, and, indeed, those of you who use WiFi could just as easily find your service disconnected because someone out there accessed your open network.  This kind of legislation could destroy the whole concept of free, open public wireless connectivity.

Can anyone say "chilling effect"?


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