Monday, May 31, 2010

Ofcom's piracy proposals as consumer-friendly as possible

Back in the UK, Ofcom has published a draft of its plans to "deal" with "piracy":

In passing the Act, Parliament’s intention was that Ofcom should apply the obligations in a proportionate way, with the code initially covering only the larger fixed-line ISPs, but with the clear message that, should levels of copyright infringement on other networks, including mobile, increase then those ISPs will similarly be required to comply with the obligations.

That's what it says on the Ofcom website - clearly, missing a word there, which I'm assuming will be "rise".

Those larger ISPs, in case you're wondering, will be defined by customer base:
Ofcom proposes, therefore, that fixed-line ISPs with over 400,000 subscribers will be covered initially.

This would mean that the seven largest ISPs – BT, Talk Talk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange, O2 and Post Office – will be covered by the code from the outset.

The Post Office is the seventh biggest ISP in the UK? Whoever would have guessed?

So, in the short term, to avoid these measures you can just swap to a smaller ISP - although if everyone joins the same one, they'll find themselves back to square one.
ISPs will have to record the number of notifications sent to their subscribers and maintain an anonymised list of alleged serial copyright infringers.

Okay, so there will be a list, where everyone is given codenames. This list will be then shared with people who own copyrights - which would be, of course, anyone who writes anything at all, so we can all get a look.
Copyright holders can then request information on this list and pursue a court order to identify serial infringers and take legal action against them.

"Who is this Mr. Beaky, BT? Who is it really?"
Ofcom is proposing a three stage notification process for ISPs to inform subscribers of copyright infringements and proposes that subscribers which have received three notifications within a year may be included in a list requested by a copyright owner.

What's not clear here is how ISPs are supposed to identify the "copyright infringement" in the first place. It's almost as if Ofcom are doing the bare minimum forced on them by the DEA - there's a process, but it's as light-touch as they can get away with.

Not, I suspect, what David Geffen had in mind when he poured drinks for Lord Mandelson a third glass of desert wine.