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Anti-piracy groups push for voluntary 3 strikes scheme in UK despite failure of such schemes elsewhere

Douglas Crawford

Douglas Crawford

September 4, 2013

uk whipWith the UK’s Digital Economy Act flailing (the Act was passed in 2010, but headaches involved in its enforcement have meant that it has yet to be implemented, and is it unlikely to be so for at least another two or three years), UK copyright holders have resorted to asking ISPs to implement a three-strikes scheme voluntarily.

The music business, headed by the BPI, have teamed up with the British Video Association to open negotiations with Virgin Media, BSkyB and TalkTalk in the hope of convincing them to introduce a graduated response system similar to that in force in the USA.

Interestingly, the Pirate Bay today shared its US traffic statistics with TorrentFreak, showing that in the six months since the US ‘six-strikes’ Copyright Alert System came into full implementation in February this year, this number of hits The Pirate Bay website received from US users increased, with a huge spike in March (up 31% compared to March last year, and 133% compared to March 2011). Funnily enough, Pirate Bay hits from US IPs peaked on February 25th, the day that the ‘six-strikes’ scheme came into force!

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Although figures have since dropped from this high point, they remain higher than from before the scheme’s implementation, suggesting that not only is such a graduated response measure ineffective, but that the buzz surrounding it may have actually increased interest in P2P downloading.

The futility of such measures was highlighted in July this year when France, the first European country to adopt such a graduated response system to copyright infringement with its high profile HADOPI law, effectively dropped the scheme amid similar evidence that piracy had in fact increased since the law’s implementation.

Of course, none of this has concerned the coalition of British rights holders, who are pushing for ISPs to introduce similar measures in the UK.

Fortunately for the cause of internet freedom, the ISPs generally appear unenthusiastic about the idea, with TalkTalk telling the Guardian newspaper that ‘customers’ rights always come first and we would never agree to anything that could compromise them’, and Virgin stating that ‘Music and film companies are speaking to broadband providers about how to address illegal file-sharing but what they’re currently proposing is unworkable’.

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