John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

File-Sharing Again? Paulie, Show the Gentleman What You Can Do to His Internet Connection

As Sun Tzu once wrote, “Keep your customers close and your enemies closer, and should someone be both, kick them off the Internet.” At least that’s what he appears to have written in the recording industry’s well-worn copy of “The Art of War.”

Earlier this year, the British Phonographic Industry suggested that the British government pass “three strikes” legislation that would require Internet service providers to terminate the accounts of casual file-sharers. And now the government seems to have taken it to heart. This morning it said ISPs have until April of 2009 to curb illegal downloads of music and films occurring on their networks before they are slapped with legal sanctions. Said Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, “Let me make it absolutely clear: This is a change of tone from the government. It’s definitely serious legislative intent.”

Britain’s ISPs are, as one would imagine, a bit put off by the idea of being used as entertainment-industry heavies. “Using BitTorrent isn’t illegal,” said an Internet Service Providers Association rep. “We prefer to go with self-regulation because it’s generally seen to be more nimble than legislation.”

But as the BPI notes, with self-regulation comes litigation. Given the option of lawsuit or loss of connectivity, what would the average music pirate choose? “The three-strike process is far better then landing someone with a great big lawsuit,” says Matt Phillips of the BPI. “Surveys we’ve done suggest that 70% of consumers would stop sharing on their connection if they knew it was being done illicitly. And it’s got to be better than taking them to court, where they’ll face a legal bill of at least £3,000.”


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