Earlier this year, the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) was forced through causing many a sleepless night in the Internet community. And now it would seem that the record labels have been having a blast, throwing fines here there and everywhere. They’ve been given the power to threaten fines but have rarely asked to produce any evidence.
The Ministry of Sound have been caught up recently for sending out 2,000+ letters to people asking for compensation. Most of the people claim they didn’t do it. Whether they did or didn’t is another story.
More rich lawyers at the ISPs cost.
All these letters are costing the industry a lot of money. At the same time, they’ve made a lot of lawyers a lot richer. Until now, there’s been nothing to stop them from being sent either – no proof was particularly needed. But at last, it looks like the record labels will have to pay the ISPs to send them out.
However even this proposal is turning into a massive fiasco: “The new Act requires the evidential standards to be defined – but Ofcom are leaving this up the rights holders and ISPs to decide in the future”.
What’s more, it looks like the record labels are going to have to predict how many letters they’re going to send out over the next 12 months, and pay in advance. Ridiculous.
You cannot give companies the power to fine the consumer without some control. Likewise, you cannot insist they pay so many months in advance for something that hasn’t happened yet.
The DEB was introduced to reduce online copyright theft and who’d disagree. Downloading illegal movies and music is wrong and it’s damaging the economy. However, the main issue with the bill was the hastiness of it’s introduction which happened overnight.
We need some balance brought to the equation again. As it turns out, most lawyers actually agree that the Bill is unenforceable – the only way to actually fine someone is to prove they downloaded the file by seizing their computer and examining the hard disk.
An acquaintance (hello Russell) was telling me that the movie companies are actaully seeding their movies onto the Internet so they have someone to target. Isn’t that called entrapment?
What’s the next turn the DEB will take? I would hope, with time, that it settles down and we can all get on with providing Internet service to people around the UK. In essence, it’s a good ideas. But until then, we’re just going to have to cope with the endless roller coaster.