THE UK'S INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS (ISPs) that never supported the controversial Digital Economy Act (DEA) in the first place are revolting now that it's looking increasingly likely that they will be forced to carry some of its enforcement costs.
A consultation statement released by the UK government has outlined how it expects the costs of copyright theft investigations to be met, and suggests that ISPs carry the can for a quarter of the expense.
Although this means that copyright holders will pay the lion's share of sending out copyright infringement notices, at seventy five per cent, the proposals have angered ISPs who, to be fair, were not big fans of the DEA in the first place, didn't ever support it, and felt railroaded into it by a government that opted to be led by rights holders despite knowing little about what its provisions entail.
Now, with its monkey ears firmly placed against the behind of the entertainment industry organ grinder, the government thinks that it can solve copyright infringement problems giving rights holders free rein to demand contact details for people, or IP addresses, that they think are distributing copyrighted files without authorisation.
In their idealised world, the copyright holders will detect 'theft' of copyrighted works, tell an ISP about it, and then require the ISP to stop what it is doing and concentrate on harassing its subscribers on behalf of people like Tom Cruise, Sandra Bullock and Simon Cowell.
Perhaps not unfairly, the ISPs don't think that this plan is in their best interests, and have asked that rights holders sort out their own mess and pay for it themselves, a sentiment laid out in a statement from the body that oversees their interests.
Nicholas Lansman, chairman of the UK Internet Service Providers Association, said that the code was weighted unfairly against its members and, in fact, would set an investigation funding precedent that did not exist elsewhere.
"ISPA has consistently argued for the beneficiary pays principle and is disappointed with today's announcement," he said. "Full cost recovery for serious law enforcement cases is an established rule and ISPA sees no reason why it should not be the case here." We agree, since what is being proposed is akin to charging the M25 motorway every time some idiot is caught speeding on its tarmac.
It is not all boot to the neck stuff, as lowly punters - that's you and us - will be exempt from charges resulting from an appeal against an accusatory letter. Oh, unless the government decides that the appeal is vexatious and slaps an off-putting cost on it. Something that we anticipate might take as long as ten minutes
The UK's minister for communications, Ed Vaizey said, "Protecting our valuable creative industries, which have already suffered significant losses as a result of people sharing digital content without paying for it, is at the heart of these measures."
Other people might be less keen to support an entertainment industry that forces Jedward and autotuning on us, but not Vaizey though, who continued, "We expect the measures will benefit our creative economy by some £200 million per year and as rights holders are the main beneficiaries of the system, we believe our decision on costs is proportionate to everyone involved."
Meanwhile, Andrew Heaney, director of strategy at the ISP Talk Talk, which has been perhaps the most vocal of all the DEA opposition, upped the scathing stakes with a blog post that described the suggestions as "outrageous".
"In effect, ISPs and their customers will be forced to pay for the costs of the music and film industries to enforce their own copyright", he said. "To us this is manifestly unfair. It is the rightsholders' material; if they think it is being accessed illegally, it is only right that they should be the ones to pay for protecting it." µ
But it keeps the juicy details firmly under wraps
And Sonny and Cher is on the radio
Gets its post-Windows 7 towel on the sun-lounger