Film industry wants “speed bumps” for file sharers

Representatives of the British film industry are calling for ISPs to impose “speed bumps” on users caught downloading copyrighted material.

The call comes from the chair of Respect for Film, a lobby group that includes the British Video Association, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), and several film studios among its backers.

The organisation wants ISPs to reduce the connection speed of those caught file sharing, instead of more draconian measures, such as taking them to court.

“Making life difficult for people who persist in accessing and copying protected material, while not preventing them from shopping online, browsing, banking online or using the internet for other legitimate purposes, is surely preferable to court actions, except in the most flagrant cases of abuse,” Lavinia Carey tells The Guardian.

“We see the use of technological measures as similar to creating road humps – they will make potential copyright infringers pause and think twice.”

The proposals are yet another attempt by copyright owners to sidestep legal process, and turn ISPs into judge and juror. The British Phonographic Institute last year proposed that ISPs implement a three-strikes-and-you’re-out system that would have seen broadband providers obliged to disconnect customers accused of persistent file sharing. That plan was rejected by ISPs.

A spokesman for FACT told PC Pro that some form of deterrent was needed. “ISPs have a duty to acknowledge illicit activity is taking place on their networks and do something about it,” he said.

“There are a vast array of people involved in illegal file-sharing,” he added. “It’s unrealistic to go after each one in the courts.”

When asked how the copyright holders would ensure due legal process was upheld, the FACT spokesman said “there would have to be a right to appeal.” He suggested Ofcom or another independent body might oversee the appeals process.

The measures are being proposed ahead of the imminent launch of Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report, which will include details of how the Government proposes to deal with illegal file sharing.

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