Friday, July 25, 2008

Parents in UK to be punished for their children’s net piracy

Households that download music and films illegally, will be put under online surveillance if they ignore warnings

LONDON: British parents are to be punished if their children are found to download music and films illegally under government reforms to combat internet piracy.

Breach of copyright, by copying music or film via the internet, is a civil offence in the UK. The measures, the first of their kind in the world, also provides that households that ignore warnings will be blacklisted and put under online surveillance.

“This is something of a step into the unknown for the internet providers, music industries and ministers. But we can’t go on without it, no business can survive after losing as much revenue as the music industry has,” Fergal Sharkey, the chief executive of British Music Rights, the body that represents musicians, was quoted as saying by The Times newspaper.

The British daily said Baroness Vadera, who brokered the pact between internet service providers and Ofcom will announce the new measures to combat internet piracy.

It is planned that service providers will first send warning letters to such households, telling them that they are being monitored.

The second stage focuses on sanctions. Ministers have asked Ofcom, the telecoms body, to lead negotiations between service providers and the film and music industries on ways to deal with blatant offenders.

The government plans to introduce legislation in case they fail to have an agreement.
It has been estimated that illegal downloads will cost the British music industry alone 1 billion pounds over the next five years. A survey by the University of Hertfordshire showed that iPods or digital music players owned by teenagers contained 842 illegally copied songs each on average.

The report said that Britain’s six biggest service providers — BT, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse — have signed up to the scheme

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