Rights group calls for piracy evidence
The Open Rights Group has called for more evidence that piracy is damaging the economy, after the Government said it held no research.
The controversial Digital Economy Act, which among other things is intended to stem unlawful copyright abuse, is still working its way through the legislative process among much muttering from ISPs and consumers.
But according to the ORG, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) does not know the true extent of the level of infringement it is trying to stop. Nor does it have any measurement of how effective counter strategies, such as the three-strikes rule that could limit internet access for persistent offenders, might prove in practice.
The accusations come following a Freedom of Information Act request made by the ORG in which it asked what evidence Government was basing its policy on.
One of the many criticisms of the Digital Economy Act is that it is not based on sound evidence
“In the request we asked for evidence they hold on the scale and nature of infringement of copyright by websites and on the efficacy of different strategies for dealing with it,” said Peter Bradwell, a copyright specialist with the ORG, in a blog post.
“They told us in their reply that they don’t hold any. This is a little alarming.”
Bradwell pointed out the DCMS frequently cites research in its reports, finding it “a little odd” the department said it held no data.
The ORG report echoes one by UK academics, suggesting that the extent of IP damage in the UK has been exaggerated by the music and film industries.
Bradwell noted both the recent Hargreaves review on copyright and the Intellectual Property Office’s crime strategy report called for better evidence to back up policy, and claimed the Government had no real facts to guide its plans.
“The Government now has a chance to set out clear strategies for assessing the impact of infringement and the effectiveness of different enforcement strategies,” he said.
“Doing so is stage one in finding a way to bring the voices in this debate – be it rights holders, artists, or civil society – closer together to discuss practical, effective and proportionate policy,” he said. “One of the many criticisms of the Digital Economy Act is that it is not based on sound evidence.“
When asked by PC Pro, the DCMS pointed to its impact assessment of the impact of the DEA as an example of its copyright research.