Open Rights Group forum on proposal to cut British households off from the net if one member is accused of illegal downloads

The Open Rights Group is hosting a public forum in London on Oct 2 to discuss the new proposal to disconnect Brits from the Internet if anyone in their household is accused of violating copyright:

Peter Mandelson is convinced that disconnecting filesharers will help the music and film industries. He's plain wrong. This extreme option would trample on the rights of internet users - and the rights of their families - without earning a penny for musicians and film-makers. It is clear that Mandelson does not understand the extent to which an internet is now a basic household service, as important as electricity or gas, without which people are handicapped in their ability to work, function, and participate in society.

Open Rights Group, as part of our campaign against the policy of disconnection, is holding a debate on better approaches for public policy and the entertainment industry.

Gerd Leonhard (Media Futurist) will kick off with a presentation on the future of music, media and entertainment. Ben Goldacre (Guardian / Bad Science) will then join Gerd on a panel, chaired by our Executive Director, Jim Killock, to take questions from the audience.

(Thanks, Jim!)


  1. I have a better solution!

    Lets just stop making entertainment all together. No more Music, No more Book, no more movies, no more TV shows.

    We can just stop cold turkey and never make another piece of desirable entertainment ever again. This way we’d have to find something physical somewhere to go to and participate in ourselves.

    The illegal file sharing problem will disappear when everyone has a copy of existing stuff and then they can’t complain.

    Or they could adjust the price of their products closer to what people are willing to pay, and shut up already.

  2. I can’t count the number of times i’ve downloaded an album, listened to it for a while and then bought. I also have discovered many bands and artists that would otherwise have flown below my radar. I know i’m not alone in doing so.

    The short-sightedness of the music industry in trying to stop the copying of material is stunning. If i listen to most of the local radio stations, i will hear vapid, vanilla flavored and oft imitated music that just makes me want to pierce my eardrums to end the suffering.

    If i can’t download and test drive albums before going out to get them, i will not buy albums at all. The crappy commercial music being mass produced and its propagators are destroying the music industry in a more thorough fashion than illegal downloading is. Make them shut up already.

    ps. I agree with the honest pricing suggested in the post above.

  3. Is this guy tech-phobic, corrupt, dim or just not paying attention? I mean… wow.

    In an age where banks and utilities want to charge you for a paper statement, and where increasingly huge swathes of cultural and business information are only accessible online, he wants to go all dark ages on entire families if one member commits an error in judgement?

    I mean, I can’t imagine that even the entertainment companies want this. Why disconnect Mom and Dad, who pay for every movie they download and the online newspapers they subscribe to, because Junior swiped a bootleg copy of a Britney Spears single? Might this just be cover for something insidious that only seems less evil by comparison? You Brits might wanna keep a sharp look-out for more shenanigans.

  4. I’m actually looking forward to seeing this abused by the first spammer/malware guy who can figure out how to fake an accusation letter, and starts spamming the companies with accusations against the people who passed this bill in the first place.

    Which I’m sure the ISPs will gladly act on in good faith, because this is a law that means they have to stop people from giving them money.

    Which means if it passes, Mandelson will NEVER GO ONLINE AGAIN.

  5. The proposed law provides for collective punishment. As a general rule collective punishment is a principle that really ought not be followed. You’d think that after the recent scandals about expenses British MPs might have some understanding of the issue.

  6. Interesting, but it doesn’t look like they got a member of the opposing view (I can well imagine why they wouldn’t want to turn up, given the stomping they’d get). But still, doesn’t that mean it’ll mostly be preaching to the choir? I mean who shells out £15 (or £25) for something they don’t have an interest in?

  7. @3

    > Is this guy tech-phobic, corrupt, dim or just not paying attention?

    You must not be a UK citizen. We all know the answer to be ‘all of the above’.

    >I mean, I can’t imagine that even the entertainment companies want this.

    Sadly, you don’t have to imagine it. They really are that dim.

  8. Industry can short-circuit debate in the UK by making a pitch to Peter Mandelson. I think this particular story is just another little piece of the picture, illustrating the death rattle of the Labour party.

    Perversely, the apology by Gordon Brown for Turing’s mistreatment fits that mould also – it’s clearly wrong that Turing was humiliated, it cost the UK dearly in terms of discoveries and inventions that Turing would have made if he’d continued to work – that’s been clear for decades – so why the recent apology issued by Gordon Brown?

    Why is Brown apologising for something he could not be responsible for – that the law in the 1950’s is unjust by today’s standards – other than to take personal credit for restating a widely held belief ‘officially’?

    What the UK needs is a fresh start, a complete Tabla Raza in politics. The Tory party stands to win the next election by default, and likely we’ll have a different set of special interest groups swaying things.

  9. Why stop at the internet? If they’re using electricity to listen to ‘illegal’ music then cut off the power to their homes. If they take a glass of water while listening to their music, cut off the water supply.

    The music industry has to come up with a business model that works. Trying to use the law to make a failed model workable is a waste of time, even if UK politicians such as Mandelson are apparently corrupt enough to do their bidding, what they’re asking for won’t actually work.

    The law courts are there for real issues such as crime and defaulting on contracts, they’re to enforce a meaning of ‘just’, which implies treating people equally.

    If there really are millions of people sharing files ‘illegally’ then the legal system will never be able to deal with all of them, and so it can never treat people equally.

    We’ll end up with laws that are broken continuously, and enforced capriciously.

  10. “Mandelson does not understand the extent to which an internet is now a basic household service, as important as electricity or gas, without which people are handicapped in their ability to work, function, and participate in society.”

    That comment alone is worth all kinds of interesting articles and discussions. Are we already THAT reliant on the internet? I hesitate to cut off my internet to find out.

  11. Mandelson understands fully ‘the extent to which the Internet is now a basic household service’. He’s relying on the threat of cutting off this essential utility to keep people in line.

  12. If the good fight fails and the law actually passes, start filing baseless copyright violation complaints against Mandelson and his entire immediate family and see how he likes having his connectivity cut without the right to face his accusers.

  13. bit of a storm in a teacup, like the response from ISP’s is basically:

    “We’re dismayed by the U-turn on illegal filesharing announced today by Lord Mandelson. Barely two months after the publication of largely sensible and pragmatic measures to tackle the problem (in the Digital Britain Report) Lord Mandelson has, it seems, caved in under pressure from powerful lobbyists in the content industry.”

    (from talk-talk, but virgin media and bt are against it too, as well as mp’s and .eu mp’s who unsurprisingly think it would be illegal without a court order).

    it’s basically the usual propose something utterly outrageous so you can sneak the previous proposal through as an apparent compromise.

    the previous one is the proposal in lord carter digital britain report : warning letters followed by port and ip blocking and bandwidth caps.

  14. Watching online bootleg movie downloads is interesting but there is chance that it can harm your computer and make you at risk to identity theft. Therefore before downloading you should know and trust the website you are getting bootleg movies from.

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