UK government hands £500M copyright enforcement and censorship tab to nation's Internet users

The UK government's Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills has concluded its consultation on how to pay for all the new copyright enforcement built into the Digital Economy Act.

The DEA is a sweeping, punishing copyright law that the former Labour government crammed through Parliament without debate in a closed-door, poorly attended vote hours before it called the next election (which it lost). The Act requires ISPs to send letter to their customers warning them that an entertainment company has accused them of infringing copyright (if this fails to reduce national levels of infringement by 70% in 18 months -- which it will fail to do -- ISPs will then be required to disconnect entire families from the Internet on the unsubstantiated accusation of a rightsholder).

The Act also allows rightsholders to demand that whole domains be censored across Britain, through provision of a Chinese-style Great Firewall of Britain.

One question that wasn't answered by the Act (that would have come out in the debate, if it had happened), is who will pay for this -- the copyright industries, who are the beneficiaries of reduced infringement, or the ISPs, who would then bear the additional costs and have to pass them on to their customers, including the ones who aren't breaching copyright?

Now the UK government has answered the question: the ISP industry and its customers will subsidize multinational record labels and movie companies to the tune of 25 percent of the cost of sending out the letters. The Open Rights Group estimates that this will come out to £500 million in extra costs that all ISP customers will bear.

So much for the so-called ideology of the LibCon government -- fair markets, proportionate justice, and small government. Instead, it's business as usual: smoke-filled rooms filled with powerful industrialists who use the state to distort the market at the public's expense.

Cor blimey! British ISPs must fund P2P copyright crackdown


  1. I think by now it’s a given that users and/or taxpayers will have to pay for any such initiative. That was the case with DMCA and CALEA in the US. There’s no extra money in the budget to support a police state in the style to which it’s accustomed, so they have to charge the people they’re spying on.

    So any logical and emotional arguments against it should be honed by now and should be launched the second the announcement comes out.

    And want to bet the digital Hadrian’s Wall won’t keep out Chinese cyberattacks or Russian botnets?

  2. Link please:

    “(if this fails to reduce national levels of infringement by 70% in 18 months — which it will fail to do — ISPs will then be required to disconnect entire families from the Internet on the unsubstantiated accusation of a rightsholder”

    I’d love to read more about this. I’ve read the Act and I’ve read the results of the consultation. I didn’t see this provision.

    Please give us a link to where this is documented. If not I’ll have to assume this is scaremongering.

  3. “…if this fails to reduce national levels of infringement by 70% in 18 months”.

    Blatant stupidity. They don’t know how much *actual* infringement is taking place right now…how can anyone possibly then measure a reduction in this unknown metric? Talk about a recipe for “FAIL”, this is it.

    So here we have the ideal excuse needed to stifle dissent and cut people off from the et- just the *accusation* of infringement. Lovely. Orwell would be proud.

  4. Wait…something is actually WORSE in the Motherland than here in the Colonies, for once? Snarky comments by Americans, ensue! (ensue! ensue!)

  5. i m literally shitting my pants over this. i dont know how this could happen. its wrong on every level. i ll do everything i can to stop this idiotic governmental fuckup.

    u will not stop online/digital piracy. Never. get over it and come up with a new model for the 21st century.

    1. “u will not stop online/digital piracy. Never. get over it and come up with a new model for the 21st century.”

      A new model for what? Making movies, printing books, and recording music for free, while supporting the families of all the people that made the movies, books and music? You pirate entertainment because you don’t want to pay for the amount of entertainment you choose to consume.

      Get a library card.

      1. Not free, but how about getting the funding upfront, much like saving for a big purchase, rather then “loaning” the money and hoping to recoup it in distribution.

        that is, set up a kickstarter:

        or vodo:

        describing the finished product, then get people to front the money for the production.

        Sure, one can always argue from the “libertarian”/randian angle of “leeches”. But i suspect these ways of doing things will create as varied a collection of products as the big corporations do. This if for no other reason that if people are interested enough in a series, they can keep funding it forever. Rather then see it pulled because its first season didn’t hit the performance markers some exec had decided on (firefly would be a recent example).

        A writer could perhaps set up a pr chapter system, Where each fund raising goal would go towards keeping the writer writing rather then doing other activities to keep food on the table. Webcomics work in similar fashion, accompanied by sales of printed collections, prints and related artwork and merchandise.

        The big issue right now is getting the message about such projects out there so that they get going and get tested, rather then sink from lack of awareness.

      2. Ah, but to the MAFIAA libraries are pirates too. Remember, they tried to outlaw movie rentals, and radio too.

        But on topic, I’d love to be a British ISP under these circumstances.

        “OK, Universal et al., you caught us. Turns out piracy is ten *times* your estimate, and we’ve seen the light. Unfortunately, it costs a couple thousand quid to send that warning, and we will dutifully pay ourselves our share.

        So from you we need £1500 per infringer, and there are millions of them at our ISP alone.

        Collect a few billion and retire, right? Same tactics the industry uses, and no cutoffs when the initial number of pirates suddenly drops.

        How much bribe per user would it take for the ISP to cut off an indefinite revenue stream? Ten year’s worth? Surely not less than three.

      3. OH the irony!

        Did you realise that the bought-once-consumed-by-many model of a library is an analog version of “piracy”?

          1. Funny, libraries have been around for many many centuries, prior to the existence of any copyrights whatsoever.
            Did the Chinese have anything like copyrights as to the “block-printed” materials they were producing, more than a thousand years ago?

            Something for me to look into, I guess.

  6. From this article

    Announcing how the costs will be shared, communications minister Ed Vaizey reiterated the need for such a tough policy.

    “We expect the measures will benefit our creative economy by some £200m per year,” he said.

    Doesn’t that mean the British economy is making a huge net loss?

  7. I don’t understand how this has become a given. If I steal a book from Waterstone’s, they won’t make the council operating the street pay 75% of the costs off prosecuting me. Why is the entirely innocent middle-man paying for an entirely separate private company’s litigation? How is this actually happening?

  8. If the disconnect measure fails to reduce piracy as well (which it will) do they have a provision that says they will give up strong -arm tactics?

    1. Just the opposite Kamerad.

      They are planning to hire on all those unemployed STASI officers as a training cadre. Once the government has trained sufficient numbers of football hooligans, they will all be issued brown shirts and _then_ the strong arm measures will begin.

      “Your papers, please, citizen?”

  9. “the copyright industries, who are the beneficiaries of reduced infringement”

    90% of my DVDs were purchased as a direct response to copyright infringing downloads of those DVDs. Infringement is synonymous with exposure. Will everyone adopt this sort of honest-after-the-fact personal conduct? No. But as any hotel owner will tell you, a room at any price is better than an empty room.

  10. 2 questions:

    1. How much does it cost to incorporate your own personal entertainment company in the UK?

    2. What is the procedure for sending notice to a record label’s ISP if you suspect them of copyright infringement and how long will it take to get their internet access turned down?

  11. lolz. thank god its the internet and were too decentralized to be stopped, cuz our governments are owned by the mafiaa, and if they could they would just take away the whole thing. fortunately, like the war on drags, and this whole iraq thing we got goin on, theres just too many people to stop. now we just need to decentralize the isp’s, some sort of darknet wireless computer to computer network, we could be done with these people for good.

  12. 1. The estimate of £500 million, actually an estimate of between £290 to £500 million, was made by the governments DEA implementation report – not the Open Rights Group.

    2. A 25% of share of these costs will mean the ISP pays £125 million, not £500 million.

    3. The estimate is for the entire scheme, not just sending letters, this article appears to conflate the two.

    In response to #9
    >>We expect the measures will benefit our creative economy by some £200m per year,” he said.

    >Doesn’t that mean the British economy is making a huge net loss?

    No, the annual cost of the scheme is claimed to be 30-50 million, the £500 million costs talked about are the total over 10 years.

    All the numbers seem to have been made up on the spot by civil servants anyway, they all round to the nearest 10 million, are never not fully explained or costed in detail and I’ve read more reliable dossiers about Iraq.

  13. C’mon Cory – you’re not really surprised that the Tories are in the pockets of big business are you, or that the Lib Dems as junior coalition partners would actually stand up to them ?

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