Do ISPs really want crime on their networks?

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Or will government be forced to bring in regulatory framework, asks The Federation

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) need to adopt a policy of self regulation when it comes to illegal file-sharing otherwise the Government may consider imposing a new regulatory framework, according to The Federation Against Software Theft.

John Lovelock, Director General of The Federation, said: Lord Triesman, the IP Minister, has given his strongest indication to date that unless the industry regulates itself, the government will not hesitate to step in. As an enforcement body The Federation welcomes the fact that the government is now willing to take IP theft more seriously. However we also recognise that Government regulation should be a last resort and ISPs would reap the benefits of taking matters into their own hands.

He suggests, whilst accepting it may be difficult to monitor content they can do the following;

  • Close accounts where advised by rights holders, or representative bodies such as The Federation, of evidence of illegal activity.
  • Compile a register on customers investigated by rights holders or representative bodies where illegal activity found.
  • Provide customer details to rights holders or their representative bodies where it can be demonstrated that illegal activity has been conducted, instead of compelling them to take court action.

His comments refer to a recent speech made by Lord Triesman and follows on from the Gowers Review into intellectual property in 2006 which made a clear recommendation that unless the industry adopts a policy of self regulation then the Government may be forced to legislate (recommendation 36 of the Gowers Review)

Lovelock believes if it is made known to ISPs that a customer is using their service for illegal activity, they need to take robust action.

It is entirely within the power of the ISPs to draw up a contract of acceptable use for all of their customers. This should include an ISP blacklist even a register of blacklisted customers. We know that the

the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) has always maintained that it cannot be held responsible for illegal peer-to-peer traffic because it is merely a conduit of such material. But Lovelock believes if it comes to protecting themselves from financial loss, theyll soon find a way.

Its a simple choice really. Either the ISPs come up with a workable strategy for self regulation or they may be burdened with additional costs as enforcement bodies like The Federation haul them through the courts, concluded John Lovelock.


About The Federation

The Federation Against Software Theft became the worlds first software anti-piracy organisation when it was set up in 1984 to lobby Parliament for changes to the copyright law.

Today The Federations key remit is enforcement. In particular, it tackles software theft using the sanctions of the copyright legislation, extending from under-licensing (buying fewer licences than the number of copies of the software being used at any one time), to the problem of misuse of the internet. It represents any software publisher member whose intellectual property is being abused, regardless of their size. Often, The Federation will consider attempting to resolve these issues without action. However, it is now committed to criminal & civil prosecutions where the misuse is both flagrant and serious.

The Federations own legal expertise is reinforced by its Legal Advisory Group (FLAG), which consists of 25 law firms engaged in IT/IP and operating in the UK and overseas.

The Federation has 160 members from the software publishing industry (including resellers, distributors, audit software providers and consultants).

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