UK MEDIA CARTELS are trying to set up a great firewall of Britain against copyright infringement, according to a confidential document seen by Slightly Right of Centre (SROC).
The eight-page document, entitled "The Potential for a Voluntary Code", reveals that the Premier League, the Publishers Association, the British Phonographic Institute, the Motion Picture Association and a number of other groups have formed a coalition to lobby minister for communications Ed Vaizey for changes to the UK's copyright enforcement policies.
The most worrying thing about the proposed changes is that they call for a web site blocking scheme that is fast enough to deal with time sensitive copyrighted material, such as live events. The problem with this is that a faster process would mean circumvention of the standard practices of law and could lead to unfair action, without the proper protocols for allowing legal defence.
Another glaring issue is the fact that the proposals were discussed with Vaizey, copyright holders and ISPs last week in a closed-door meeting, to which rights groups were refused entry. The Open Rights Group (ORG) said that it knew of the event beforehand and applied to be present, but was rejected, despite calls in the document for a consumer representative to participate.
The executive director of ORG, Jim Killock, told SROC, "This is a dangerous and ill-thought out proposal. Worse still, rights holders have tried yet again to hide their ideas away from public scrutiny, in order to sneak them forward without democratic debate. We need to take action to protect ourselves from these destructive censorship plans."
James Firth of SROC heavily criticised the document, saying it could inadvertently target legitimate web sites that do not facilitate piracy and that the proposals are anything but voluntary, since they would effectively force ISPs to cooperate.
He also slated the document for its vague wording and its lack of detail on costs associated with the project, highlighting the £6m set-up costs for the three strikes policy from the Digital Economy Act as an example of just how expensive the pursuit of potential copyright infringers could become.
Firth even revealed that Vaizey reportedly said, "If it's a voluntary scheme, go and do it." In other words, stop pestering the government and get the relevant bodies to agree on things between themselves. While that might be handy for the government in washing its hands of any involvement, it's worrying that it would want to turn a blind eye to such proposals, which are unlikely to get voluntary support. µ
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