Record Companies Fancy French Model

The U.K.’s record companies want to curb Internet piracy under a new industry agreement that follows the French model backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

On February 12, a week before the U.K. government was expected to publish a Green Paper on the subject, BPI communications director Matt Phillips told BBC Radio Five listeners how the industry wants legislation based on the French "three strikes and you’re out" policy.

He said the record companies would prefer to partner with Internet service providers to curb piracy rather than rely on legislation. But the ISPs have so far shown no sign of cooperating, claiming that there’s no simple technical solution to the problem and the one being suggested would breach their privacy agreements with their clients.

"Now is not the time for ISPs to hide behind bogus privacy arguments, or claim the problem is too complicated or difficult to tackle. It is time they started showing some corporate responsibility and partner with us to allow our digital creative economy to grow," said BPI chief exec Geoff Taylor in a written statement released hours before Phillips did his radio interviews.

The BPI wants ISPs to advise customers if their account is being used to distribute music illegally and, if the advice is ignored, enforce their own terms and conditions about abuse of the account.

Its guidelines for dealing with anyone suspected of illegal downloading would be for the ISP to send an initial warning e-mail. A second offense would lead to their accounts being suspended and a third offense would lead to termination of the contract.

Early reports suggest the Department of Media, Culture and Sport will recommend a similar plan when it publishes its green paper, a preliminary government strategy document that often leads to new legislation.

The main parliamentary opposition to the proposals would likely come from MPs who feel they may lean a little heavily against the Data Protection Act or believe they may be too difficult to police and enforce.