Broadband providers have been asked to collect information and create a database of customers who are illegally downloading music, films and books. This data could be used to disconnect or even prosecute people who continually download copyright protected material.
The subject will be discussed in a Downing Street Breakfast on 12th September. Record label bosses and their trade association – the BPI have been invited to meet up with Prime Minister David Cameron.
So far BT, Virgin Media, BSkyB and TalkTalk have been approached by music and film organisations to sign up for a voluntary code to monitor illegal downloading.
It is claimed that between November 2012 and January this year that 280,000,000 music tracks have been downloaded illegally in the United Kingdom, alongside 52,000,000 television shows, 29,000,000 films and 18,000,000 ebooks and 7,000,000 computer games.
The data was collected by communications regulator Ofcom. 18 percent of Internet users aged 12 and over have recently downloaded copyright material and only 9 percent are concerned about getting caught by authorities.
Many people have suggested that key material should be made available to companies like Netflix. Breaking Bad for instance, one of the most popular television shows aired in America is now available on Netflix and iTunes within hours of the showing in America.
The Digital Economy Act was set up to battle piracy but it has yet to be implemented despite being voted into law by parliament in 2010. It looks as if the act won’t come into action until 2014 at the earliest and may even be pushed back until after the general election in 2015.
If major ISP’s in the United Kingdom start monitoring what people are downloading then customers may receive letters saying their internet IP address can be used to facilitate copyright protected media.
Those people who receive three letters may face sanctions. Measures taken could be throttling internet connections to slow them down, or blocking users from specific IP addresses completely. Disconnections may even come into action if the offenders are very active. The last stage would be prosecution.
Other sources say that holding a database may actually be illegal under the Data Protection Act which does state that companies can only retain information about individuals when it is needed for commercial purposes.
Emma Hutchinson, a Virgin Media spokeswoman said “Music and film companies are speaking to broadband providers about how to address illegal file-sharing but what they’re currently proposing is unworkable.”
A spokeswoman for TalkTalk said “We are involved in discussions about measures to address illegal file-sharing and ultimately would like to reach a voluntary agreement. However our customers’ rights always come first and we would never agree to anything that could compromise them.”
Kitguru says: It will be interesting to hear how the talks go with David Cameron next week. Over the coming years, it looks as if the penalties for downloading copyright material will get more severe.