Mandy Cops It From All Sides

Business secretary Lord Mandelson’s plans to disconnect Internet users who persist in illegally downloading music and films has won favour with the British Phonographic Industry, but he’s catching flak from a broad alliance of service providers, musicians, songwriters and producers.

Ian Livingston of British Telecom, Charles Dunstone, of Carphone Warehouse – which owns TalkTalk – and Tom Alexander of Orange say the vast majority of customers do not share files illegally, and blameless customers would suffer under the proposals.
“We must avoid an extrajudicial kangaroo court process,” they wrote in a letter to the Times. BT, TalkTalk and Orange have approximately 10 million customers.

The letter also rejects the idea that the ISPs should bear the cost of the creative sector’s fight against piracy because the vast majority of consumers do not share files illegally.

The letter has also been signed by consumer rights organisation including Open Rights Group, Consumer Focus, and Which?

Virgin Media, which has not signed the letter, has adopted a “persuasion, not coercion” approach to combating Internet piracy, arguing that Internet users will stop downloading content illegally if an appealing, legal service is available.

The Featured Artists Coalition, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors and the Music Producers Guild have also opposed the decision to reintroduce the threat of Internet disconnection.

Various politicians have suggested Lord Mandelson, nicknamed Mandy by the U.K. media, has been influenced to return to the idea of disconnecting serial illegal file-sharers by high-profile entertainment execs including Hollywood mogul David Geffen and Universal Music Group International chairman and chief exec Lucian Grainge.

The idea of disconnecting illegal file-sharers had already been ruled out in the Labour government’s Digital Britain report published in June, which went no further than recommending serial offenders have their Internet speed restricted to make it more difficult for them to download files.