Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Government to disconnect illegal file sharers?

For many years the government has been concerned by illegal file sharing through the internet. Software is widely available which allows you to easily download files (such as music, films or computer software) from sharing websites, or from other willing internet users.

The ever greater broadband speeds we now enjoy make the process simpler, more reliable and quicker. Along with a perception that this is a "victimless" crime, the relatively high cost of buying legal music, film and software also makes illegal downloading seem more acceptable.

The main problem is that copyright holders (and the taxman) lose millions through such illegal file sharing, if the end-user does not buy a legal copy of the content.

The government are reportedly about to try to rush through a bill, before the coming election, to penalise those who download illegal data in this way. Fast law is almost always bad law and this certainly seems to be the case here.

The government may require broadband providers (ISPs) to cut off users who take part in these practices. But, will the ISPs be willing to risk the potential claims from users who feel their Human Rights are being abused?

What will happen if a hacker has mis-used the broadband connection of an innocent victim? What about the many unsecured broadband routers, which could be used by anyone in the vicinity to access the internet?

The government is likely to say that safeguards will be in place to prevent innocent people being caught up in the proposed anti-piracy laws. But I suspect that the final version of the law will be unworkable and unenforceable, so what is the point of these complex regulations?

If the copyright holders feel so aggrieved at losing so much money why can they not use their money to sue for breach of copyright?

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