As anticipated, Her Majesty the Queen has announced the implementation of measures against file-sharers, including notices and disconnection. The measures will be part of the Digital Economy Bill, which also proposes tougher classification for video games, and new powers to Ofcom regarding local news services.
While the Bill’s text is not yet available, Parliament has published both an outline of the Bill’s contents, and how the plan fits into the government’s legislative strategy for the next year. The outline mentions that infringement is one of the main objectives of the Bill:
“Online infringement of copyright – tackling widespread copyright infringement via a two-stage process. First by making legal action more effective and educating consumers about copyright on-line. Second through reserve powers, if needed, to introduce technical measures, such as disconnection”
As we are currently lacking detail, it is early to say anything other than what has already been discussed thoroughly elsewhere. I do not need to repeat how this is bad news, and how disconnection is unworkable and potentially it is a human rights minefield. Three-strikes legislation has been drafted under the assumption that file-sharers are students living on their own, when the reality could prove to be more nuanced. There is real concern that this will end up disconnecting people who have nothing to do with the alleged offence. Seems like the idea of collective punishment did not disappear in the dark ages as we had thought, Lord Mandelson and his ilk are happy to punish the innocent and sinners alike.
At the same time, innovative digital services are providing valid and valuable alternatives. We shall see.
Update: Cory Doctorow claims to have received leaked information about the specifics of the Digital Economy Bill. If true, this is scary stuff, but I will hold judgement until I read the content.