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Government ready to legislate on file-sharing

By Simon Aughton

Posted on 25 Oct 2007 at 12:23

The UK government is prepared to legislate to stop the illegal file sharing of copyrighted content, a minister has told the BBC.

Speaking to Radio 4, Lord Triesman, the parliamentary Under Secretary for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said that the government was not prepared to tolerate "intellectual property theft".

He said that it is not the government's intention to chase file sharing 14-year-olds, but to stop those who were making a profit through repeatedly copying the material.

When pressed on how file sharing might be tackled, Triesman insisted that the technology existed to locate and track file sharers, and to oblige ISPs to stop them.

"Where people have registered music as an intellectual property I believe we will be able to match data banks of that music to music going out and being exchanged on the net," he told the BBC.

However, Lord Triesman did say that the government would prefer a voluntary agreement between the music industry and internet service providers, rather than having to introduce legislation.

Overestimating technical solution

A spokesman for UK ISPs, however, argues that they cannot be expected to track every file that travels on their networks.

A view backed up by Becky Hogge, executive director of The Open Rights Group, who tells PC Pro, that the comments are nothing new, and suggests the minister is overestimating the potential of a technical solution.

"Solutions which attempt to detect whether data that moves across a network is in breach of copyright law, either by attempting to identify the content of that data or by attempting to identify the type of traffic, are too subject to error to be realistically and proportionately used for enforcement purposes," she argues.

"And this is before you even start considering the potential privacy implications of monitoring internet traffic in this way."

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