My position on copyright infringement and piracy is pretty clear, I think. It hurts creative industries and helps to foster a culture in which somebody’s art doesn’t have any value – if you can steal it via the internet then why would you think that the MP3 or movie file you’ve downloaded would have any financial worth?
Under new proposals, if you’ve been accused by a rights holder of illegally downloading their creative works, you will have to pay £20.00 for the privilege of defending yourself.
Whilst this would be a fine way to conduct ourselves if the process of bringing somebody to court for these kinds of offences was in any way clear-cut, the nature of wireless broadband connections, unsecured routers and general I.T. ignorance means that any number of entirely innocent people could find themselves facing charges and having to pay to defend themselves purely because they lack the wherewithal to securely comport themselves on the internet.
For that reason alone, I can’t see this kind of legislation standing up in court – we would have to live in a culture where it was a legally enforceable condition of internet use that your hardware was secure and password-protected, so as to prevent such potential miscarriages of justice from occurring. And how likely is it that your ageing ‘Silver Surfer’ relatives are going to be taken to court because they neglected to stop a grandchild from torrenting porn or the new Bruno Mars CD on their internet connection through ignorance of securing their laptop and router?
I’d love to see the government which tried to enforce that law.
Given that we live in a society where nuisance legal firms and shady right holders troll the unaware and get rich on the basis of spurious ‘pay up or be sued’ requests based on nothing more than an IP address – not the safest of identifying characteristics – I worry that this kind of thing will target exactly the wrong, tech-illiterate folks and let those savvy enough to circumvent elementary barriers to get away with merrily torrenting all the while.
Paying to defend yourself against potentially baseless allegations from cynical rip-off merchants – isn’t it great to know that you live in a country where the idea of being innocent until proven guilty is a thing of the past?
- UK ‘pirates’ face £20 appeal fee (bbc.co.uk)
- ISPs to warn customers of copyright piracy allegations (digitalspy.co.uk)
- As Europe Bats Around ACTA, UK Proposes Rules For ISPs Policing Copyright Breaches (techcrunch.com)