Thursday, May 07, 2009

Legislating on future online content

I attended an ISPA Legal Forum at lawyers Clifford Chance yesterday at which Daniel Sanderson, a partner at Clifford Chance, Steve Rowan, Deputy Director, International Policy Directorate, IPO (Intellectual Property Office) and the Director of Legal & Regulatory at Orange, Simon Persoff, spoke in depth about the forthcoming Digital Britain report, and the likely issues that will surround a Digital Rights Agency. Fascinating stuff: in the ongoing attempts to curb "file sharing" it is currently the ISPs that are in the firing line. Many questions were raised: will the ISPs be deluged by Rights Holders' "robots" sending out "infringement violation" messages constantly? What will constitute a "serious consumer infringement"? Will the ISPs be disadvantaged in negotiations with Rights Holders when they attempt to build business deals that involve access and content? Also, how is P2P going to be defined? By my estimation there are at least 29 ways to file share, it is not simply a matter of BitTorrent. Who will pay the legal bills? And will we see 10 million people criminalized?

Trefor Davies, tech director at Timico, blogged:

As a footnote to yesterday’s posts from the ISPA Legal Forum one of the things to have stuck in my mind is that consumers are not being consulted in any part of the discussion surrounding P2P filesharing. Whilst the inter industry argument rages we are in danger of losing out on some basic human rights.

Check out Trefor's other notes on the Forum.

NB. Update: the lawyers Pinsent Mason reported yesterday that:
The Government plans a tenfold increase in the penalties for criminal breaches of intellectual property law. Infringement of IP laws will be punishable by fines of up to £50,000 rather than the current £5,000, according to Government plans.

The measures, though, do not involve increasing the possible jail sentences for online infringement as proposed by 2006's Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.

Link to consultation document: here.

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