BPI Upset Over ‘Digital Dithering’

The U.K. government says it intends to cut Internet piracy by up to 80 percent in a couple of years, but plans outlined in the new Digital Britain report stop short of implementing a “three strikes” policy.

BPI chief exec Geoff Taylor embraced the confirmation of new legislation requiring Ofcom and Internet service providers to significantly reduce illegal file-sharing, but described the government’s failure to come up with more effective measures as “digital dithering.”

The 238-page Digital Britain document, drawn up by outgoing communications minister Lord Carter and specifically aimed at steering the country through the next few years of Internet development, clearly states that ISPs will be required to send warning letters to repeat infringers but other measures such as blocking Web sites and IP addresses and bandwidth capping will be considered only if file-sharing isn’t cut by 70 percent in the two-year target period.

Taylor and the BPI believe the government should act now to require all ISPs to apply a fair system of “graduated response” or “thousands of jobs will be at risk in the creative sector.”

U.K. Music chief exec Feargal Sharkey said his organisation is “cautiously optimistic” about the report, but it’s also come up with its own five-point plan that leans more toward the BPI’s way of thinking.

In France there have been objections to the proposed “three strikes” law and a strong lobby of Euro MPs are also saying it impinges on an individual’s rights to justice – particular if Internet users can be disconnected without a court order – and the government feel that similar measures would get a similar rough passage in the U.K.

Two days before Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report was published, Virgin Media and Universal Music’s bid to combat online piracy by offering an “unlimited” music download subscription service has found favour with industry organisations, but it may be harder to try to sell the idea to fans.

The giant media company, which has interests in television, Internet, mobile phone and fixed-line telephone services, and the world’s largest music company opted for a “carrot and stick” approach, although their detractors have said the carrot isn’t sweet enough and the stick won’t hurt.

Virgin is undertaking to take the toughest stance of any broadband provider against illegal file-sharers and has promised to suspend Internet access for persistent offenders, but it may be an impossible promise to keep if the matter is tested in court.