Is Peter Mandelson heading to defeat?

Peter Mandelson’s desire to introduce stringent penalties for internet piracy look to be heading for deep trouble, with heavy criticism coming from senior businessmen, internet service providers and key parts of the music industry.

First there’s this from paidContent:UK:

The government’s revised, tougher plans to tackle online piracy have been dismissed as “grossly unfair” and “misconceived” by the leaders of ISPs and consumer groups, who warn against creating an “extrajudicial kangaroo court” to cut off persistent P2P offenders.

The CEOs of BT and TalkTalk (the UK’s two biggest ISPs) as well as Orange UK, the Open Rights Group, Which? and Consumer Focus are signatories to a letter in The Times on Thursday which calls for re-think on the plans. It reads: “We are concerned that the Government’s latest proposals on the ‘how’ to reduce illegal filesharing are misconceived and threaten broadband consumers’ rights and the development of new attractive services.”

The industry heavyweights warn of the way the plans threaten freedom of speech: “usually, constraints to freedom of expression are imposed only as the result of custodial sentences, or incitement to racial hatred, or libel.”

They also express concerns over the way the proposals would mean draconian action can be taken without first having to prove that something is guilty of an offence.

It would be bad enough if the problem was simply a matter of abandoning the idea of innocent until proven guilty, but in practice the approach of disconnect first, ask questions later is also likely to mean that many people end up being cut off due to errors, mistakes and confusion – particularly given the ISP industry’s less than glorious record of getting customer accounts and information correct.

As if that criticism wasn’t bad enough, there’s also unhappiness in the music industry, as the Evening Standard reported yesterday:

Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John and Damon Albarn have attacked Lord Mandelson’s plans to cut off broadband connections to those who illegally download music.

They described the Business Secretary’s proposals as expensive, illogical and “extraordinarily negative”.

The Featured Artists Coalition, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, and the Music Producers Guild have joined forces to oppose the threat of disconnection…

The coalition said: “We vehemently oppose the proposals being made and suggest that the stick is now in danger of being way out of proportion to the carrot.”

There is clearly a lot of troubled times ahead for Peter Mandelson’s ideas, especially if all this heavyweight opposition encourages one or more opposition parties to come out fighting strongly on the issue.

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One Comment

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  • By Nick Clegg on file sharing and illegal downloads | Mark Pack on Sat 26th September 2009 at 5:10 pm.

    […] to introduce harsh penalties for people suspected of making illegal file downloads have come in for much criticism, particularly for the low standard of proof that would be required and for deploying too much stick […]

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