The Goverment today did a U turn in respect of its approach to the treatment of illegal music downloading. One of the key features of the Digital Britain review is the fight against music piracy. The ISP industry has been in deep discussion with the music industry over this for at least 18 months and probably more and the outline approach being adopted in “Digital Britain” was something notionally agreed by the various stakeholders.
Today Department for Business has today published an amendment to the original consultation on P2P. The amendment contains proposals to give the Secretary of State the power to introduce technical measures and proposals for the cost to be apportioned in the legislation. The amendment also reintroduces the idea of suspension of broadband service as a final resort. This is something that is being opposed in many camps for many reasons already discussed in this blog, not the least being that it is difficult to prove who was doing the downloading.
Although I’m not a lawyer I understand that there is a scenario here that the Government’s own Code of Practice on Consultations has been breached. The amendment is already causing large ripples in the industry and I think we can expect to hear a lot about this in the press over the next days and weeks.
There are already reports in the press that this change of mind is rumoured to have been occasioned by a meeting between Lord Mandelson and Music Industry mogul David Geffen during the summer break. I am all for making things happen quickly. However it does seem to me that Lord Mandelson is inserting the boot here without enough understanding of the issues.
In my mind he would be better off spending his time trying to raise funding for Rural Next Generation Broadband Access, an aspect of the Digital Britain report that has been widely criticised as being a cop out.