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Sharing in the UK

UK Government stick and carrot for file sharing

18th September

Update: Sharing Ideas...

Jeremy Hunt outlines measures against file sharing for the 2015 Communications Act

NUK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has delivered a speech, calling on net firms, advertisers and credit card companies to cut ties with websites that link to unlawful content.

In a speech to the Royal Television Society, he said he wanted to make it harder for such sites to prosper.

Ideally the government would like to see Google remove pirate sites from its search engine completely. But Google's response suggested this was unlikely. Without a court order, any copyright owner can already use our removals process to inform us of copyright infringing content and have it removed from Google Search, the firm said in a statement.

In his speech, Hunt denied that blocking access to pirated content was an attack on net neutrality:

Unlawfully distributing copyrighted material is theft - and a direct assault on the freedoms and rights of creators of content to be rewarded fairly for their efforts

We do not allow certain products to be sold in the shops on the High Street, nor do we allow shops to be set up purely to sell counterfeited products. Likewise we should be entitled to make it more difficult to access sites that are dedicated to the infringement of copyright.

Hunt outlined measures for the new Communications Act which is due to become law towards the end of the current Parliament in 2015.

  • A cross-industry body, perhaps modelled on the Internet Watch Foundation, to be charged with identifying infringing websites against which action could be taken
  • A streamlined legal process to make it possible for the courts to act quickly
  • A responsibility on search engines and ISPs to take reasonable steps to make it harder to access sites that a court has deemed contain unlawful content or promote unlawful distribution of content
  • A responsibility on advertisers to take reasonable steps to remove their advertisements from these sites
  • A responsibility on credit card companies and banks to remove their services from these sites.

Jim Killock, chief executive of the Open Rights Group, said the proposals set a dangerous precedent:

It is pretty dangerous to ask credit card companies or Google to decide who is guilty.

Once again Mr Hunt has listened to the lobbyists and has made no attempt to work out the scale of the problem. We are back where we were with the DEA, which is proving unworkable and an expensive nightmare.


1st April

The Great Firewall of Britain...

Ed Vaizey confirms plans for a website blocking scheme

Minister Ed Vaizey has confirmed to Open Rights Group that Government ministers are talking to copyright lobby groups and ISPs about a voluntary “Great Firewall of Britain” website blocking scheme.  We need you to act now.

They want to block websites that music and film companies accuse of copyright infringement. 

But a 'self regulatory' censorship scheme places decisions about what you can and cannot look at online in the hands of businesses. It would remove the vital judicial oversight required by existing powers. Inevitable mistakes would lead to the censorship and disruption of legitimate traffic from businesses, publishers and citizens. And there is little evidence it will have any beneficial effects for the creative economy.

The good news is that the Minister has promised to include civil society groups in future discussions. We need to be there to counter the pressure rights holders are exerting on decision makers.

You can do your bit by letting your MPs know that website blocking is not acceptable and that the voice of civil society needs to be part of the discussions. Please email them now to tell them to oppose web blocking.

Read more on the legal and technical background here


19th June

Comment: Taxing Carter's Intelligence...

Pirates one step ahead

Alongside the Digital Britain's headline announcement of a £6 tax per year for each landline, there was some more sinister messages concerning digital piracy. It appears as though the mafia are starting to get their own way a bit more with ISPs set to be mandated by Ofcom to provided a substandard service to alleged pirates (shouldn't be too hard for Tiscali to provide such a service!).

So that's the Government forcing individual households to lose a service they pay for due to allegations supported by evidence that almost certainly wouldn't stand up in a court of law. 1984, anyone?

Utter hypocrisy from Labour again. When BT and Phorm broke UK and EU legislation the Government were nowhere to be seen (and even colluded with Phorm in rewriting guidance on the matter), but a few people share some Britney songs and the Government feel compelled to step in and legislate. And we wont even go down the whole "benefit cheats steal money from the taxpayer and we are going to be taught and slap them in jail" quotes from MPs who committed fraud on their expenses.

The rights holders believe that every pirated song is a lost sale. It isn't and been proved as such. Research has shown, the people who pirate the most, also spend the most on music. Techies will move to getting their pirated material across obfuscated or untraced networks.


Carter: Rights holders report file sharers, send letters and throttle Internet access. How do you like that?
Pirates: OK we'll use USENET, VPN, Darknets and obfuscated protocols.
Your move Carter.
Carter: Fuck!

Anyway, BIS (formally BERR formally DTI) are running a consultation on this at:


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