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Unworkable Digital Economy Act ‘would not stop piracy’ says study

The controversial Digital Economy Act would not stop piracy, according to a new study which compares counter piracy measures introduced in the US, New Zealand, France, South Korea and Taiwan. 

Dr Rebecca Giblin, from Monash University, Australia concludes in her report that that ‘three strikes’-style measures, where an ISP sends letters to customers warning them to cease piracy do not reduce copyright infringement. 

Giblin’s report concludes that: “There is no evidence demonstrating a causal connection between graduated response and reduced infringement. If “effectiveness” means reducing infringement, then it is not effective.” 

Pirates just wanna have fun. And not pay for anything.

Read Recombu Digital’s guides to the Digital Economy Act and Internet Piracy ProsecutionsThe report points to a rise in use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) proxies and services like Tor, which makes it hard (but not impossible) to monitor people’s web activities, as reasons why overseas counterparts to the Digital Economy Act, like France’s HADOPI, have not been effective.  

As well as failing to stop piracy, the so-called graduated response schemes don’t increase take up of legitimate services like Netflix, Lovefilm or iTunes, nor do they encourage rights holders to distribute their content more widely. 

The Digital Economy Act became law in the UK in 2010 and aims to make it easier to track down and sue persistent offenders. Under provisions of the Act, people’s internet connections could be forcibly slowed down or even terminated.  

Since the introduction of the Act then there’s been many debates about how it should be enforced. British ISPs aren’t convinced that the proposals outlined are workable but the government is continuing to pressure the likes of BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk. 

Tomorrow ISPs and the BPI will meet at Downing Street to discuss measure to combat digital piracy. It’s thought that the BPI and the government want ISPs to start collecting data on suspects before there is a legal requirement to do so. Under the provisions of the Data Protection Act, this could be illegal. Collecting data on subscribers can also lead to false positives and wrongful arrests

This wouldn’t be the first time that the government has forced the UK’s biggest ISPs into acting as content monitors. Following increasingly shrill tabloid headlines, ISPs have announced that access to adult content will be filtered by default. This is despite the Online Safety Bill, which would have legally required ISPs to do this, being passed into law. 

Adopting provisions of the Digital Economy Act in its current form will require ISPs to spend money on collecting data and keeping rights holders in the loop. Despite this, the more tech-savvy pirates will continue to download and distribute content without being affected.  

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