THE HEAD OF THE UK PIRATE PARTY has accused UK rightsholders of sneaking a return to the Digital Economy Act's draconian anti-privacy scheme through the backdoor.
Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye said that consumers will suffer from overbearing and Trojan horse-like plans to force web users away from unlawfully provided copyright protected material.
Kaye reacted to a report by the BBC that said that the UK's big ISPs and the British Phonographic Industry are close to an accord on a letter writing campaign that alerts web users that someone is on to them.
"The entertainment industry has been unable to get its own way democratically, so it is now planning to get the Digital Economy Act through by the back door. The Tory / Lib Dem coalition has shown itself to be useless on the issue of digital rights. Internet users will come to pay for the privilege of being spied on," Kaye said.
"Plans for spam letters will do nothing to help artists. This is clearly a gateway to more draconian crackdowns. Rightsholders are asking for rapid implementation of 'stronger measures' after a review. The industry must come clean on what these 'stronger measures' are."
The ISPs and the BPI have confirmed the talks to The INQUIRER, though not quite in the same way that Kaye described the issue.
The BPI said that it would not comment on the plans until a later time, but confirmed that talks took place with the knowledge of the government.
"Content creators and ISPs have, with the support of government, been working in partnership to develop a joint awareness programme that would support the growth of legal digital entertainment services, reduce illegal downloading and create the best possible customer experience online," it said in a statement.
"Discussions are ongoing and no agreement has been reached - reports that an announcement is imminent are wide of the mark. We will comment further if and when an agreement is in place".
The Digital Economy Act was roundly beaten off the internet by passionate support opposition. It had recommended various anti-downloading efforts like a three strikes and you are out system. It did not have much backing aside from certain politicians and various copyright outfits.
Today the ISPs said that they have indeed been speaking to the BPI and they are indeed talking about copyright.
Virgin Media spokesperson Gareth Mead said, "We're engaged in conversations with rights holders and other broadband providers about a proposed Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme."
BT and Talktalk, which both appealed against the DEA, said that they would balance the need of the creative industries against the needs of customers.
"BT is committed to supporting the UK's creative industries by helping to tackle the problem of online piracy while ensuring the best possible experience for customers," said a BT spokesperson.
"We continue to be involved in discussions about voluntary measures that both address illegal file-sharing that also protect our customers' best interests," added Talktalk.
Sky also confirmed the talks and spoke up for both sides of the argument. "As both a content creator and an ISP, we are committed to taking every step possible to tackle the problem of piracy," said a Sky spokesperson.
"To this end, we have been engaged in discussions with bodies representing rights holders and other ISPs about setting up a voluntary education and awareness programme around the issue of copyright theft." µ