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UK’s draft internet piracy laws revealed

ISPs will be forced to implement a three strikes rule

Ofcom has published a draft of the code on internet piracy which will require the UK’s biggest ISPs to send out letters to web users who have been accused of downloading illegally. Users are to be allowed up to three letters in a year before their anonymous information is provided to the copyright owners who can then, with the help of a court order, reveal their identity and take legal action.

Due to the incredible amount of logistics required to handle appeals and information requests, we won’t see this going into action till at least March 2014. Up to 75% of the cost of all this will be met by the rights holders, and initial estimates are putting the cost of each letter sent at between £7.20 and £17. Initial data from the report shows that the rights holders are expected to send at least 70,000 copyright infringement reports every month.
I can only think that if they are paying millions of pounds to get their hands on someone’s data in the first place, they will definitely be going in for the kill on bleeding as much money from pirates as they possibly can.

The scariest thing from my point of view is just how far the government seems to be willing to go to keep the industry executives happy. Under the DEA (Digital Economy Act), if there is not a downturn in piracy after the first full year of operation, other measures will be considered such as slowing internet connections, blocking online access all together or suspending people’s accounts. How on earth they intend to police this in libraries, universities and internet cafes is beyond me.

As an aside to this (if you’re still not sure whether to dust off your pitchfork yet), the EU Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, has said that if the European Parliament rejects ACTA next week then he will simply ignore them. “If you decide for a negative vote before the European Court rules, let me tell you that the Commission will nonetheless continue to pursue the current procedure before the Court, as we are entitled to do. A negative vote will not stop the proceedings before the Court of Justice.” Source.

An unhappy internet user

An unhappy internet user

This basically means that ACTA will be passed no matter what people think about it.

I’ve got a strong feeling that no matter what they do to the internet people won’t suddenly start buying CDs again like it’s 1999.

A different method

Times have moved on and the media industry needs to update their business model; we are already seeing pretty big artists like Louis CK skipping the fat-cat middlemen all together and selling their own material at a massively reduced price, whilst managing to keep hold of the rights to it at the same time.

To those who might wish to ‘torrent’ this video: look, I don’t really get the whole ‘torrent’ thing. I don’t know enough about it to judge either way. But I’d just like you to consider this: I made this video extremely easy to use against well-informed advice. I was told that it would be easier to torrent the way I made it, but I chose to do it this way anyway, because I want it to be easy for people to watch and enjoy this video in any way they want without ‘corporate’ restrictions.

Please bear in mind that I am not a company or a corporation. I’m just some guy. I paid for the production and posting of this video with my own money. I would like to be able to post more material to the fans in this way, which makes it cheaper for the buyer and more pleasant for me. So, please help me keep this being a good idea. I can’t stop you from torrenting; all I can do is politely ask you to pay your five little dollars, enjoy the video, and let other people find it in the same way.

Louis C.K.

By offering a genuinely better service than the big companies he managed to turn a $200,000 profit on the show, after paying for everything, including the website and the video production. This sort of approach works brilliantly for everyone involved – the artist, the video producers (Louis himself in this case), the people who built Louis’ distribution method (i.e. his website) and the consumer.

The only people who miss out are the big labels who would have been charging $20 a time for the same video . If they can’t see that they need to embrace ideas like this, and update their business model accordingly then I don’t think any amount of law-making and suing people will keep their industry afloat for very much longer.

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  • Jay ‘Flashjunkie’ Loftus

    The big companies need to stop pushing physical products as much, it’s expensive and outdated, services like spotify are turning past pirate downloaders into legal content users… my view is that people are willing to pay as long as the price is right, lets be honest who wants to pay £25+ for 2 tickets to the cinema? and in this economy, who can afford to???

    • James Sims

      That’s the thing, the costs are so high because of the bricks-and-mortar network needed to sustain that way of doing business. Adapt or die time I think over the next 20 years…either that or just ban the internet!

    • jonthebeef

      It’ll be interesting to see how Digital Wallets and Apple’s Passbook will limit paper tickets in the future. Here’s an Apple patent from a couple of years ago.

  • jonthebeef

    Good post. I would only argue the final point really: Louis CK (as a comedian) or Radiohead (as recording/touring artists) can make that kind of money because they’ve got massive profile – it wouldn’t be a sustainable model for new artists coming up the tree.

    There’s arguments for and against labels: In one sense, they bleed an artist dry retaining most of the money for themselves. In another, they nurture and develop the artists to turn them into money making machines of which both benefit.

    In terms of music, I’ve often thought that direct-to-fan needs to tip the mainstream before it can ever represent sustainability to that creative sector. Services like Bandcamp are providing these platforms, but they lack visibility – how does one band sell more than the other?

    Social obviously plays it’s part, yet the serendipity offered by either a traditional record store (or well organised P2P directory) can limit the listener’s engagement. Perhaps there’s a role for SEO with this? Or search optimisation for Soundcloud/Bandcamp/Youtube/et al? Only time will tell.

    But where the music, movie, and touring industries need to adapt further is in the ways they reach fans. People actually want to pay for stuff, as long as it’s of good value and easy to reach. If it’s more difficult that downloading illegally, they’ll just do that. Spotify and Netflix are trying to provide these platforms, but they’re ultimate problem is with content, and that responsibility lies with the content holders. If they are willing to price their content in real world terms, then maybe, they will reach people paying for legal subscription services.

    Either way, it’s an interesting time, and they have to convince the general populus that piracy is ACTUALLY WRONG. There lies the challenge.

    • James Sims

      It’s true, there is a flip side to the labels but, personally, I think that turning bands into money making machines should die out as well really. I totally agree that people do want to pay for stuff, but won’t if it is harder than piracy. Steam is a shining example of this!

  • arjnaik

    At this rate we will get phone record style lists of our browsing habits.

  • Andrea Sims13

    Good post. Hope this doesn’t get through