Govt to UK ISPs: gather info on web pirates

ISPs asked once more to help in the fight against piracy
ISPs asked once more to help in the fight against piracy

Lord Carter's Digital Britain interim report has called on ISPs to play a more prominent role in the fight against web piracy.

Outlined in the report is the suggestion that ISPs and rights-holders should have a willingness to fund what he calls a "new approach to civil enforcement".

So far, however, Lord Carter points to limited support for a co-regulatory solution to internet piracy.

"The current Memorandum of Understanding group showed that despite the best endeavours of all concerned, reaching voluntary agreement where there is little perceived common interest between the various participants is extremely hard."

A new approach

Lord Carter wants to remedy this situation, but gives a muddled response in the report, insisting that a new approach is needed to "cover the need for innovative legitimate services to meet consumer demand, and education and information activity to educate consumers in fair and appropriate uses of copyrighted material as well as enforcement and prevention work."

This educating of consumers will seemingly be done by a 'Rights Agency'. This agency will work as a go-between for the entertainment industry to help prevent consumers from committing civil copyright law violations.

The report reads: "An independent, objective body may be better able to surmount the mutual tension between rights-holders, publishers, search engines and other content aggregators, the ISPs and the underlying communications network operators and instead broker technical solutions that can command widespread adoption and support."

Who's paying for this?

Quite who will pay for this agency is unknown – it's not specifically talked about in the report – but the report suggests it could provide incentives for legal use of copyright material, both to consumers and the ISPs.

Lord Carter also wants ISPs to collect information on serial copyright infringers, stating: "We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order. We intend to consult on this approach shortly, setting out our proposals in detail."

And the reason for this: "This should provide a good evidence base, to make it significantly easier for rights-holders to take targeted legal action against the most significant infringers."

Interim recommendations:

  • Create a Rights Agency to mediate between consumers and the entertainment industry
  • Educate consumers on digital copyright issues
  • Require ISPs to collect personal data on copyright offenders and to make that data anonymous until presented with a court order
Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.