Facing the music?

I heard on the news this morning that, according to a report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), ninety-five per cent of music downloaded online is illegal. The timing of the announcement is interesting.

The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform carried out a consultation on the legislative options to address illicit peer to peer filesharing in October and has just published a summary of the responses on its website. Predictably there was a marked contrast between the views of the rights holders and the ISPs and consumers. The ISPs took the view that provision of legal offers, education and the use of the existing legal system to enforce copyright holders rights was the best route forward. The rights holders on the other hand favoured a regulatory approach, requiring ISPs to take some responsibility for copyright infringement on their networks.

UCISA responded to the consultation taking a position closer to that of the ISPs than the rights holders. Most, if not all, institutions will have appropriate regulations and disciplinary procedures in place and many already have procedures in place to detect any peer to peer activity that is taking place on their networks. Where there are complaints about breaches of copyright they are acted upon and if evidence is found of a breach, the offending material is removed and disciplinary procedures invoked. So overall, the sector has its house pretty much in order.

The Government will respond to this consultation as part of the interim Digital Britain report due to be released later this month. The announcement of the report by IFPI has no doubt been timed to put pressure on the Government to move towards a more regulatory approach. If this transpires then it is hoped that a blanket approach is not adopted and that some distinction is made between commercial ISPs and others providing a service to a closed community. Otherwise there is a risk that higher and further education institutions will have to implement measures disproportionate to the benefit derived.

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