UK govt proposes idiotic two-strikes-and-you're-out Internet copyright rule

Glyn sez, "People accused of breaking copyright over the internet will have their internet connections cut off under tough new laws to be proposed by the UK government today. The decision is noteworthy since it was ruled out by the government's own Digital Britain report in June as going too far. The Open Rights Group believes the government is breaking its own consultation guidelines by bring in the proposals in the way they have and asks people to write to their MPs."

Yet again, we see knee-jerk reactions and policy swerves, this time in direct contravention of the government's own consultation guidelines. Those guidelines are there for a reason: to make sure government policy is balanced and considered. We will be making a formal complaint.

The result of these proposals is likely to be protest, challenges and public arguments in the run-up to the General election. Popular movements in France, Sweden and elsewhere have kick-started over similar measures.

That will do nobody any good, neither politicians nor rights-holding industries, as copyright's reputation suffers further damage.

Copyright is under threat: from heavy handed business lobbying and simplistic enforcement proposals.

New fast-track P2P clampdown proposals announced today

(Thanks, Glyn!)

Start the discussion at


  1. Won’t the previous deathblows to HADOPI apply too, viz:

    “* HADOPI is legally dead because it opposes to fundamental principles of French and European law, including the respect of a fair trial, principle of proportionality and separation of powers. European Parliament has also for the 4th time recalled its opposition to the French text by voting again amendment 138/464, thus voiding the French HADOPI. The law is also not respecting requirements of French constitution regarding a due process, equality in front of the law, and legality of the law, which the Constitutional Court will now have to judge.

    * HADOPI is technically dead because it entirely relies on identifying users through their IP address that can be altered or high-jacked in many ways 5. As a consequence, innocents will inevitably be sanctioned. Circumvention techniques are also already largely available. “

  2. I’m 100% in favor of this – as long as it applies to the “content providers” as well. Lose two plagiarism lawsuits? Then your product can’t be distributed using the Internet, “cable” outlets, or public spectrum – just direct-to-DVD.

  3. As #3 commented, unfortunately this sudden change to the “Digital Britain” nonsense indicates something slightly more worrying. For those who don’t know, this sudden “amendment” to the already daft report, which was an embarrassingly out-of-touch look at the future effects of technology in the UK, has been made by unelected official Lord Peter Mandelson. He’s not got the best reputation (I linked to an article on his recent work), twice having resigned from the government whilst holding cabinet positions. Until a few weeks ago, he had little interest in this matter. Then suddenly things changed following a trip to Corfu funded by David Geffen. One dinner with Mr Geffen later and suddenly our law is being changed to benefit companies in the US rather than… oh let’s just say for a laugh… British artists.

    The bigger question is this. Why is British law being effected by American businessmen?

  4. I look forward to watching the UK government be educated in the ways of the internet.
    Amusing 4chan types will use the open wireless hub of some outspoken MP or other to download ironic / abusively titled copyright material. Then report the MP for copyright infringement.
    Game Over

  5. I agree with #7. All it will take is an MP to get targeted before they start calling it unfair. Legislation like this makes me wonder if Politicians even know what the Internet is, or have children who use it.

  6. @8: No, they don’t know it. I’m a german Pirate so you can trust me ;)

    Politicians have NO knowlegde about the internet. (At leat not the important ones). It is only funny when these politicans ask “What is a browser?” as long as they don’t try to make laws about the internet.
    Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them. Or changes their “I don’t want to hear what the pro’s have to say!” attitude.

    I’m sure the UK Pirate Party will get a busy month with new members if this grows. A friendly ARRRR! to the crew ;)

  7. I think I’ve said this before, but what we really need is a “three strikes and you’re out” rule for politicians.

    The first two times you sign on to some piece of legislative idiocy like this, you get a written warning. The third time you get told to clean your desk and security walks you to the door.

  8. So how will they enforce such a law, I wonder? Like all prohibitions, it’ll clearly create a huge economy of illegitimate, anonymized or other means of accessing the web. It seems very unlikely that a ban on delivering service to your home via wire will stop anyone. And given future integration of services, will that mean that you also lose access to you cel phone and cable service?

    Open wireless connections everywhere seem like one pretty easy way to render such a thing very much harder to enforce — basically, an “I am Spartacus” movement.

  9. Why don’t we just cut to the chase and enact a “No Strikes and You’re Out” rule, and then just cut off everyone from the internets entirely. There, problem solved! 100% of copyright theft via file sharing halted.

  10. @11, it will stop mom, pop and their kid who uses iTunes. In other words, the people they cared about losing to begin with.

  11. So, all that you need to do is accuse someone twice? It doesn’t have to be proven? Well that’s that then, every politician responsible for this has two unauthorized recordings of me singing in the shower. Since I hold the copyright to those songs, I demand these politicians have their internet revoked.

    Anyways, I look forward to,, etc all going down, seeing as for example their rap artists have been sued for sampling other songs.. Every single record label should be cut off of the internet immediately, they’ve all had dozens of copyright suits against them.

  12. How about a two-strikes rule for accusations? If you twice falsely accuse someone of violating your copyright, you lose the right to make the accusation. That’d make the MPAA step a bit more carefully.

  13. Is there a sport in Britain that uses two strikes, or do the people proposing this really not know their way around baseball terms? “Strike two! Yer OUT!” “Ball three! Take yer base!” It would make the game a bit faster. I hope for everyone’s sake this gets ejected from the game.

  14. To inject a little sanity into the discussion: this isn’t an actual law, it’s a government proposal for a law. We’re all stamping on it hard so it probably won’t every be a law.

    The Labour government is completely out of touch and up a tree, as this proposal shows quite nicely. They are going to lose, badly, at the next election. Current polls show them slipping slowly into third place.

  15. Actually, that’s an interesting point that this isn’t a law – because its impacts would look very similar to a law’s capabilities. But it won’t need to pass through the bicameral approval system that submits laws to the scrutiny of the public and the constellation of vested interests.

    It’s a “report”. That gives the telecoms regulator the power to … we know that bit, grateful thx to BB for the continuing international education.

    And it’s a report that the Dark Prince himself “beefed up”. Forget free holidays, that’s not his style. This guy wants to suck all of the energy out of the universe. This is serious big interest, private equity and financiers using their new boy for the first time in overt action. Watch closely.

    I’ve said before – when these little bits of pseudo-legislation make it into performance, they can be nasty to get rid of.

  16. If nothing else it would be terribly cathartic if the media industries pissed the populace off so much with all of this shady business that a grassroots response managed to push something into law that snipped away some of the industry’s current copyright privileges.

    If they keep doing crap that is so overtly an attempt to knowingly screw the commonwealth in an attempt to gain more power, they’re going to get smacked back into their place eventually. The idiots are slowly riling up a hornet’s nest.

  17. Interesting to note that Peter Mandleson has already had two strikes…

    (also VERY intersting to note that the first word of my anonymous-posting CAPTCHA is “scumbag”. That says it all :-)

  18. I used to work for Baroness Shriti Vadera, before Mandelson’s time, at the Department for Business.

    She has direct control of this policy area, or did until very recently, and was opposed to the changes because ISPs had rightly told her that it would be impossible to enforce. Note that this policy, whilst preferable, takes no notice of the end consumer; one branch of big business says it’s impossible- bang- in it goes into the Digital Britain report. Another branch of big business tells her superior, Mandelscum, that they want it and- bang- now it’s government policy.

    It’s impossible to overstate how little politicians understand IT in general; Baroness Vadera would regularly have screaming hissy fits, demanding that we fetch her the head of IT for the Department because she had forgotten the password to her gmail account. Policy (the supposed knowledge base that politicians use to shape their decisions) was little better; Vadera’s brief for all documents was that they should read like “you’re explaining them to your mother”.

    As a side note, why gmail? Because it’s deemed personal and is therefore exempt from Freedom of Information requests. Funny that anyone (read: 90% of politicians) working in the supposed public interest should want to shield so much of their correspondence from public dialogue…

  19. Strange that Mandelbot, who may well be a sleazy, manipulative. lying scumbag political fixer, but who these days is usually very, very good at it, should be promoting such an obvious unworkable and probably illegal turkey.

    Perhaps there’s more to the dinner with David Geffen in Corfu than we’re being told…perhaps their eyes met over the moussaka and…zap! Kapow!

    Or then again, perhaps Mandelson is just another out-of-touch jerk with no judgement -he was after all a big promoter of the costly and farcical Millennium Dome ego-trip…

  20. Using strikes is crazy, the UK is a cricketing nation and should use those rules-

    This would work really well because the politicals could wash their hands of this mess being able to say “there are clear rules in place” to the psychos pushing these laws.
    In the mean time no one would every really get in trouble because the rules are utterly incomprehensible.
    Carry on

  21. Phisrow: this is the internet,so here’s the Clampdown:

    Have a nice day, all you bill collectors!!

  22. Good luck with that. In France, the socialists voted no, the European Concil said the France could not apply this law, and the “conseil constitutionel” (protector of the constitution) decided that you could not cut off people from the net without a court decision.

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