By Lea Pachta

Nine bodies representing creative industries have renewed calls for the Government to make sure Internet Server Providers (ISPs) ‘disconnect illegal file-sharers’. They purposed a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ system to help tackle illegal downloading and sharing of copyrighted material such as music and videos.

Head of the UK Film Council John Woodward warns that the impact of illegal file-sharing is affecting employment: “The growing threat of illegal P2P (peer to peer) file-sharing threatens the creative industries, as films go unmade, DVD sales deteriorate and jobs are lost in production and distribution of content.”

Until relatively recently, ISPs saw a clear benefit in tackling illegal file-sharers, as they were creating soaring costs through their high bandwidth usage. UK’s largest providers therefore willingly agreed to a Government incentive to send out warning letters to individual customers committing this crime. But with today’s increase in legal downloading and video-on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer or 4oD, ISPs’ illegal file-sharers’ bandwidth-use no longer seems as critical.

ISPs have always maintained that they wish to remain neutral providers of Internet connectivity without being responsible for their consumers’ behaviour, and under Ecommerce Regulations they are legally entitled to this ‘immunity’. In addition, we saw from recent events such as the imprisonment of The Pirate Bay operators, that content owners do have effective rights, which enable them to sanction illegal file-sharers and ‘scare off’ potential offenders.

Nicholas Lansman, Secretary General at Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) said: “ISPA recognises that there is a problem with unlawful P2P file sharing, but it is important to recognise that a major part of the solution lies in licensing reform and the availability of legal content online.”

David Lammy, UK’s Intellectual Property Minister also commented earlier this year that: “We can’t have a system where we’re talking about arresting teenagers in their bedrooms”.

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