The government will have to act and introduce legislation to halt damage to the copyright industries caused by illicit P2P file sharing.

The Federation against software theft claimed that the introduction is inevitable and called for a ‘legislative backstop'. The Federation is further supporting government action on ISP copyright responsibilities and has responded to the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform's ‘Consultation on Legislative Options To Address Illicit Peer-to-peer File Sharing', which was launched in July this year,

 

This consultation was ‘intended to set out and gather views on a proposal for a co-regulatory approach that could be adopted in order to facilitate and ensure co-operation between ISPs and rights holders to address the problem of illicit use of P2P file-sharing technology to exchange unlawful copies of copyright material'.

 

John Lovelock, chief executive of the Federation, said: “A voluntary approach would be the easiest solution but experience has shown that such an approach may well not work, as it is dependent on a full consensus being achieved; to date this has not been successful, despite ongoing dialogue between rights holders and ISPs.

“A further consideration is that ISPs will be reluctant to take action against their customers, thereby risking alienating and losing them. Some regulatory requirements will inevitably be needed, as this will take the decision out of the hands of the ISPs themselves. It is unlikely to be a truly voluntary scheme.

 

“Allowing ISPs to ‘choose not to engage in the self-regulatory arrangement' as detailed in this consultation document would, to my mind, undermine the entire arrangement. By permitting ISPs to ‘opt out' of the procedures, the so-called co-regulatory approach, would create a two-tier system which would be far from satisfactory.

“We are therefore calling for maintaining the political will to require ISPs to take some proper and active part in combating illicit file sharing. One argument is that personal data relating to a given IP address may be given to the rights holder on request, without a court order being needed, which is arguably gold plating.

“We also feel that the scope of the consultation is too narrow, in that by concentrating on just P2P file-sharing there is a risk of comparable issues relating to other technologies – which may supercede P2P being overlooked. The time for talking and consultation is over – it is time to keep the momentum.”