Peter Mandelson has called for a three-pronged approach to tackle unlawful
peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing.
The Business Secretary said that new laws in isolation would not be enough to
tackle the problem, which costs the creative industries millions of pounds each
He called on ISPs and the creative industries to work with Government to
ensure a package is put in place which balances education, enforcement and new
business models to discourage unlawful downloading.
Speaking at the C&binet creative industries conference, Mandelson
confirmed proposals set out in the recent consultation on unlawful file-sharing
would form the basis of measures in the Digital Economy Bill.
The Government expects that warning notifications, followed up with targeted
legal action by rights holders, should be the only enforcement action required
to significantly reduce the level of unlawful file-sharing. However, the
Government would have reserve powers to issue an order requiring ISPs to invoke
technical measures. Account suspension will be an option of last resort to deal
with the most serious infringers.
Highlighting the scale of the problem, Mandelson said only one in every 20
tracks downloaded in the UK is downloaded lawfully.
“It’s clear that whilst unlawful file-sharing excites a strong response from
all sides, it is not a victimless act. It is a genuine threat to our creative
“The creative sector has faced challenges to protected formats before. But
the threat faced today from online infringement, particularly unlawful
file-sharing, is of a different scale altogether. We cannot sit back and do
“We will put in place a fair, thorough process, involving clear warnings to
people suspected of unlawful file-sharing, with technical measures such as
account suspension only used as a very last resort.
“Only persistent rule breakers would be affected – and there would be an
independent, clear and easy appeals process to ensure that the correct infringer
He added that educating consumers on the value of intellectual property
rights would help to bring about changes in behaviour – alongside innovation and
new business models enabling consumers to download content at competitive
“A ‘legislate and enforce’ approach to beating piracy can only ever be part
of the solution. The best long-term solution has to be a market in which those
who love music and film, for example, can find a deal that makes acting
unlawfully an unnecessary risk.”
In other areas, Mandelson said there was a case for copyright laws to be
modernised to reflect reasonable consumer behaviour which did not damage the
sustainability of the creative industries.
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