The failing three-strike strategy

I’ve been reading Danny O’Brien’s excellent post on troubled French three-strikes-and-you’re-out law. Nick Jondet at French Law also informs us that the controversial piece of legislation will be presented later this month. This has left me wondering whatever happened to three-strikes here in the UK?

Those inclined to follow this story might remember that the year began with warning from the UK music industry that it would pursue a policy of allocating responsibility for online copyright infringement upon Internet Service Providers. The British blogosphere was up in arms (or more literally, up in thumbs) about the thought of having ISPs police internet piracy. Similarly, the European Parliament thought that this was a bad idea, as did just about every person with more than two working neurons. The thing is this, by removing access to the internet for an entire family, you are exercising punishment that goes beyond the offence. Not only that, in the digital age access to the internet has become an important part of everyday life, and removing it via an administrative decision violates every principle of justice that I can think of.

The three-strike policy seemed like the natural next-step escalation on the War Against Piracy. Suing the clients failed. Suing the users failed. Bribing college kids failed. So let’s sue the ISPs! Or get them to enforce copyright for us! Funnily enough, I believe that the music industry may have realised that the decision has become unpopular. The BPI threatened to sue Carphone Warehouse if they failed to make the necessary appeasing sounds, an ultimatum that failed to materialise. Meanwhile, the music industry may be shelving their three-strike plan because of the prompt action by advocacy groups and the European Parliament. Some bad copyright policy may have been averted. Am I being too optimistic? Only time will tell.

On a related note, I was going to name this post “Whatever happened to… three-strikes?” but when I googled the title I realised that it had been used already by Andrew Orlowski. Ugh. I am deeply disturbed by that, I need to go and take a shower.

Leave a Reply