Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The caring, sharing, BPI

What with being ill and everything, this Guardian Tech weekly podcast is now over a week old, but still worth giving some attention to.

Matt Phillips from the BPI was on again, waving the threat of an "injunction" against ISPs if they hadn't signed up to three strikes and out by the 18th. I have to inform you, no such undertaking has been received. Oddly, when asked as to what, exactly, they'd be injuncting and why, and how, Phillips seemed a bit vague.

It suggests that things really aren't going the BPI's way - the threat of government intervention was supposed to force the ISPs to capitulate; that didn't work, so instead there's the threat of a vague injunction. At the same time, Phillips insisted that they were still having positive talks with all the ISPs, which makes it seem odd they'd be threatening to injunct. Can you imagine what it must be like going on a date with these guys?

Phillips also - in virtually the same breath as the one which he used to say that the BPI were talking to everyone - conceded that Carphone Warehouse had said they weren't going to be taking part in the scheme.

The other moment that really rankled was when Phillips suggested the bid to have people thrown off the internet was actually about social justice - it wasn't fair, he explained, that under the current suing model, individuals who got caught had to bear the full weight of the legal costs. This might be a little more convincing if the level of damages the record industry seeks from "file-sharers" weren't, themselves, totally disproportionate. It seems a little odd to be worried by the chap from Kings Lynn having to pay costs when you're relaxed about him having to find £5,000 in compensation.

Phillips was also asked about mistaken identity, which he conveniently explained out of existence - when it happens in the states, it's usually the kids of the person accused, he claimed. He then said - presumably to head off the inevitable follow-up about dead people and grandmothers without computers receiving summonses - that he didn't know very much detail about what happened in America. Which is either a surprising gap in knowledge for someone supposedly speaking with authority on copyright matters (like choosing Shakespeare as your Mastermind subject but then claiming to not really know the tragedies) or a bit of a fib.

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