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Digital Act To Create Pirate ISPs In UK

Service providers will split up to make smaller ‘pirate’ ISPs, in response to Ofcom’s draconian file-sharing proposals, says the Pirate Party

On by Sophie Curtis 7

British anti-copyright group, Pirate Party UK, has predicted that “Pirate ISPs” will spring up across the country – promoting online privacy and allowing users to share files anonymously online – in response to proposals for implementing the Digital Economy Act.

The regulator Ofcom is currently working on a proposal for tackling illegal file-sharing and copyright infringement, in accordance with the Digital Economy Act. According to the first draft of Ofcom’s code of practice, published in May, the IP address of anyone caught committing online copyright infringement three times will be added to a ‘blacklist’ held by their Internet service provider.

This arrangement would force service providers to effectively “police” customers who may be downloading copyrighted content. They will be expected to track the activity of known copyright infringers and pass those details onto copyright owners, enabling them to pursue suspensions through the courts.

However, the Ofcom proposals only apply to large ISPs, which the Pirate Party says will drive mid-size ISPs to break into smaller companies which fall outside the rules – creating a wave of so-called “Pirate ISPs” in the UK.

Industry opposition

Ofcom’s proposed ‘Three Strikes’ rule has met with furious criticism from some members of the industry – including BT and TalkTalk, who have called for a judicial review by the High Court. According to Pirate Party UK, this makes ISPs in Britain the “natural allies” of the party.

“The Pirate Party UK is fighting on the same side as ISPs against Labour’s Digital Economy Act, which places huge burdens on ISPs, forcing them to become Hollywood’s unpaid vigilante police force,” party leader Andrew Robinson told eWEEK Europe. “We are cheering on Talk Talk and BT in their legal fight against the Act, while keeping up the pressure on the new government to repeal it, and working with Ofcom to introduce more fairness into the Act if it isn’t repealed.”

One of the operators’ main objections is that the Act’s measures to curb online copyright infringement did not receive sufficient scrutiny when the bill was passing through Parliament. BT Retail chief executive Gavin Patterson said that further clarity was needed about whether the legislation is even compatible with EU laws.

One clause of the Digital Economy Act exempts small ISPs with less than 400,000 users from the rules. According to Pirate Party UK, this automatically makes them more pirate friendly than large ISPs, and provides an opportunity for Pirate ISPs to be set up, which also avoid the heavy financial cost of implemting the Ofcom rules.

“If this strange arbitrary limit does come into effect, we expect existing ISPs will react by splitting and regrouping to take advantage of the cost savings and customer benefits of being smaller,” explained Robinson, “so we can look forward to having a wide range of Pirate ISPs in this country, without the party having to set one up!”

Swedish Pirate ISP

Today it was reported that the Pirate Party in Sweden (PiratPartiet) has announced plans to launch the world’s first “Pirate ISP”. The move is in response to the increasing use of online surveillance in the country, in what PiratPartiet describes as the “big brother society”.

“The Pirate ISP is needed in different ways,” said Gustav Nipe, CEO of the new Pirate ISP service in Sweden. “One is to compete with other ISPs, let them fight more for our Internet. If they don’t behave there will always be someone else taking their share.”

More: Activists have warned that Ofcom’s proposed code may be unlawful

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Last comment




7 replies to Digital Act To Create Pirate ISPs In UK

  • On July 21, 2010 at 11:53 pm by Karin

    I am truly shocked that there are those that feel they have the right to take and do what they feel with items that are not owned by them.

    If this continues, Movies will not make their profit from box office sales. Graphic Designers will change trades. At some point, we will be left with creative pieces of the past. As there will be no income for my/our/their hard work. At least this is where my mindset is as a designer. It seems the mindset of today is to take and share whatever we like without considering the outcome of those behind the creative works. It is pathetic!!! We live in a Scape Goat society! IE; I steal from you but, it is your fault!

  • On July 21, 2010 at 11:54 pm by Shane Murray

    Glad to hear more Pirate ISP’s starting up!

    Here is an interview with the founder of the first Pirate ISP in Sweden. Its in English (well Americano english…)

    http://bit.ly/PIRATEisp

  • On July 22, 2010 at 7:43 am by Paul Loveridge

    “I am truly shocked that there are those that feel they have the right to take and do what they feel with items that are not owned by them.”

    They’re called publishers, and they only give musicians £28 for every £1000 a piece of music earns.

  • On July 22, 2010 at 8:49 am by Felix Pleșoianu

    “there are those that feel they have the right to take”

    Not “take” but “copy”. There’s a difference.

    “If this continues, Movies will not make their profit from box office sales.”

    For how long have we been hearing that with no evidence of it happening? The profits of Hollywood keep *increasing*.

    “At some point, we will be left with creative pieces of the past.”

    Many of which have been created in a world without copyright, or at least much shorter copyright. Which *gasp* allowed them to build on previous creative works. You know, like Disney did with most of their animation films.

    “As there will be no income for my/our/their hard work.”

    Gee, I guess Cory Doctorow is starving. Or David Weber. Or Jonathan Coulton. Oh wait, they are all famous and pretty well-off creators despite their works being available for free.

    Sigh. This is like shooting fish in a barrel. You have no real arguments, just like most copyright apologists, whereas I can bury you in verifiable facts. But hey, if lawmakers the world over can afford to ignore piles of evidence, who are we to behave rationally?

  • On July 22, 2010 at 10:04 am by IBBoard

    “For how long have we been hearing that with no evidence of it happening? The profits of Hollywood keep *increasing*.”

    Well, the revenue increases but “Hollywood Accounting” turns that into a gross loss (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100708/02510310122.shtml)

    “Many of which have been created in a world without copyright, or at least much shorter copyright. Which *gasp* allowed them to build on previous creative works.”

    The original 14 year copyright does seem to make more sense. Today you get about 20 years of exclusivity for patenting something, or death + 70 years for just writing a song about patenting something! That’s a huge misbalance.

    Also, the Pirate Parties are not just about copyright infringement. They use it as their most prominent and eye-catching policy, but they’re also pro-privacy and support anonimity, which fewer and fewer ISPs and politicians do these days.

  • On July 22, 2010 at 10:19 am by Helen Courtney

    Just picked this up on Slashdot – there is already a UK “pirate” ISP apparently – http://superawesomebroadband.com

    They aren’t cheap but look interesting.

  • On July 22, 2010 at 9:38 pm by Carlos Hernandez

    Karin, there is a fundamental difference between copying and theft, in that theft deprives the owner of the original object.

    As long as the owner keeps his or her property, demolishing the market for it is not theft, nor necessarily against any other law.

    Did anyone steal your house during the recent housing market meltdown?

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