UK broadband users to pay big for piracy

Ronny Kerr · December 29, 2009 · Short URL:

Digital Economy Bill burdens Internet subscribers with £500 million charge

UK piracyContent providers and Parliament are preparing to deal a heavy blow to broadband subscribers in the UK: a £500 million blow.

The government's newest attack against online piracy, the Digital Economy Bill will force Internet service providers (ISPs) to monitor users and penalize infractions. ISPs would be expected to first send out warnings, slow down connections, or cut off connections completely, depending on how many times a user had illegally shared.

Costs of implementing such new procedures, however, could cost upwards of £25 per subscription, potentially resulting in 40,000 households dropping their broadband connections.

Supposedly, the benefits of such extreme measures would manifest in the form of £1.7 billion in sales for the film and music industry, while the government will make £350 million in extra tax revenue.

"Broadband consumers shouldn’t have to bail out the music industry. If they really think it’s worth spending vast sums of money on these measures then they should be footing the bill; not the consumer," says Charles Dunstone, CEO of Carphone Warehouse, parent company of TalkTalk, the biggest consumer provider of broadband. Dunstone also notes that the bill fails to answer the most commonly voiced criticisms of legislation of this kind, like how it makes sense to punish an entire community under one connection (say, a business) for one user's pirating activities.

While the onslaught of piracy cases has somewhat dwindled and mellowed stateside, the United Kingdom appears to see no end to its battle with file-sharing.

About a month ago, Virgin Media, a UK telecommunications provider with outlets in television, Internet, mobile, and telephone, revealed that it would be the first ISP to monitor illegal file-sharing activities of 40% of its user base, though no repercussions for such activity have yet been instated.

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