ISPs To Share Piracy Tab

The UK’s Internet service providers were right to be nervous that the government would expect them to pay one-fourth of the cost to track down online music pirates.

Their fears were confirmed by the Digital Economy Act regulations culture minister Ed Vaizey announced Sept. 14, which said the ISPs will pay about 25 percent of the cost of catching illegal downloaders. The content owners will be expected to carry out the work and pay 75 percent of the cost.

People who feel they have been unfairly identified as file-shares won’t be expected to pay for an appeal. That cost will also be shared by the ISPs and content providers, although the government says it may later introduce a fee if monitoring this method shows it leads to a high number of frivolous appeals.

“Protecting our valuable creative industries, which have already suffered significant losses as a result of people sharing digital content without paying for it, is at the heart of these measures,” Vaizey explained, saying he expected that reducing online piracy could benefit the creative economy by £200 million per year.

He said the rights holders are the main beneficiaries of the system and the costs are proportionate to everyone involved.

The code of practice, which was drawn up by communications regulator Ofcom, applies to ISPs with more than 400,000 customers, meaning it will initially apply to BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange, O2 and the Post Office, who together control 96 percent of the market.

When Ofcom’s outline code was originally made public at the beginning of June, a TalkTalk spokesman described it as “a bureaucratic dog’s breakfast.”

The ISPs have always opposed the anti-piracy laws in their current form because they believe they’re being asked to spy on their customers.