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Angry ISPs to pay 25% of costs of piracy-busting scheme

Pie chart

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 14 Sep 2010 at 11:28

ISPs are up in arms over Government plans to force them to bear 25% of the costs of enforcing online piracy measures as part of the Digital Economy Act.

Under a scheme outlined earlier this year, rights holders will send IP address of customers caught downloading copyrighted material to Britain's major ISPs, which will then send warning letters to subscribers, with the potential for legal action for anyone sent three notifications within a year.

Anything the ISP has to pay will be passed on to consumers so they will end up paying anyway

The question was, who should foot the bill for the process - rights holders, ISPs or consumers? In a move that will be popular with end users, anyone issued with a Copyright Infringement Notice will have the right of appeal for free, with ISPs and rights holders splitting the entire costs of the scheme on a 25:75 ratio.

The Government did warn however, that the service may not remain free if too many consumers used the service. “The Government will monitor the situation closely, and reserves the right to introduce a small fee at a later stage,” a statement said.

ISPs are angry that they have to pay anything, claiming that rights holders should bear the full costs because they would be the beneficiaries of any legal action taken over piracy.

"The Internet Service Providers Association [ISPA] has consistently argued for the 'beneficiary pays' principle and is disappointed with today's announcement,” said Nicholas Lansman, ISPA secretary general. “Full cost recovery for serious law enforcement cases is an established rule and ISPA sees no reason why it should not be the case here.”

ISPA also claimed “the internet offers excellent opportunities for rights holders to access their target market with relevant lawful content without the significant costs associated with a non-digital environment and views today’s announcement as contrary to the promotion of the digital economy”.

However, other Industry voices were cautiously optimistic about the news, but expressed concerns that the appeals process would be too complicated for consumers.

“We do still have some concerns about the level of technical understanding a consumer may require to effectively challenge an allegation of copyright infringement," said Sebastien Lahtinen, co-founder of

Price hikes

Lahtinen also said that although consumers won't be paying directly for making an appeal, “anything the ISP has to pay will be passed on to consumers so they will end up paying anyway.”

Campaigners at the Open Rights Group also jumped on the knock-on costs, saying 45 million internet users would face higher bills

"Using the internet will become more expensive as a result," said campaigner Florian Leppla. "Rights holders wanted the Digital Economy Act - it benefits them, so they should pay the full costs for its implementation."

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User comments

Well the government ain't got no money

What do they expect?

By Lacrobat on 14 Sep 2010

The government do have mone, they just don't have all of yours...yet!

By Bluespider on 14 Sep 2010

Ahhh good old GUILTY until proven INNOCENT

So, I have to pay a 'fee' to prove I’m innocent.

Surly 'they' have to prove beyond any doubt that I am guilty.

I have an idea - send a letter to everybody in the country, that way some people will just pay up, some people will just ignore it, but most will appeal, then they can add the fee and make billions off it - without actually doing anything.

By andy_fogg on 14 Sep 2010

The "prop up the greedy" tax

The film industry can pay - just take out the 3D tax they currently levy on cinema goers.
The music industry doesn't need to pay, it just needs to just die, so musicians can sell their music without middlemen taking all the money.
If this is such a "good idea" then why aren't burglars, murders etc. taxed for the cost of their trials and imprisonment? Oh, sorry murders have rights don't they!

By cheysuli on 14 Sep 2010

The article sums up the problem - the benefit here is for the media industries. Instead of making product available to watch on demand - no more monthly waits - they'll continue to throttle the market to get what they want.

Eventually they might realise this isn't what customers with falling dvd and cd sales.

Give people the opportunity to download and watch, DRM free on release for a reasonable price and sales will soar. Anything else and piracy will just adapt until they can't do anything about it except stop making content.

Blinking heck films, TV and music should be paid for! It's a talent and a skill. The frustration is not being allowed to do so when I want to.

By bubbles16 on 14 Sep 2010

This idea is madness

If the "rights holders" think they are losing money, they should sue and pay for legal fees' blanket charging ISPs is only going to increase monthly charges to consumers.

If the "broadband tax on landlines" for the benefit of rural Britain was scrapped by the Con-led coalition as being unfair, how is it that the govt think this new "tax" on broadband for the benefit of rights holders, most of whom are US or Japan based is OK?

By SwissMac on 14 Sep 2010


If the ISPs are having to pay 25% if the people protest when people are found guilty they should get 25% as well yes?

By Deathtaker27 on 14 Sep 2010

As pointed out, charging the ISP is the same as chaging the consumer.

So, -everyone- has to pay for 25% of cases heard. Why am I being asked to pay for pirate to challenge a case? I didn't download anything.

I'm paying the price for illegal behaviour of other people, for the benefit of the Media Company. Atleast in taxation I pay the government and they spend it on me (my roads, my schools, whatever). In this case, I'm being taxed, and it's being spent on the Media Companies!

By matbailie on 14 Sep 2010

You're right but wrong

This is directed to a number of posts.

We already pay for criminal activity with taxes paid to try and serve justice.

Criminals (including speeding drivers) do pay a levy when found guilty to pay towards victim funds.

The fee to prove innocent would be refundable if you won as you could sue via small claims.

The big difference is this is civil law not criminal. This means there is a lower burden of proof from beyond reasonable doubt (i.e 10 of 12 jurors minimum) to balance of probabilities (51 vs 49).

Be interesting to see how much the people are screwed over before something is done.

By nicholbb1 on 14 Sep 2010

Hipocrytes and Idiots

Well what do you expect, as long as the Entertainment industry keeps hiking prices of BluRay/DVD/CD's, Cinema Tickets, Console Games to fund stupidly lavish alchol and drugs fueled lifestyles, The common person is always going to look for the most affordable option, even if it is technically illegal.

Wouldn't the more logical and fairer answer be to counter such illegal activities by moderating those lifestyles, ditching the alcohol and drugs and reducing the prices of genuine products and services to put piracy out of business.

This won't tackle fileswapping entirely however, but by introducing fairer technological methods of buying and owning copywrited media which in my opinion should allow for the "fair use" transfer of any legally own media from device to device without alteration of the content by introducing a portable content and user specific encryption by providing a plugin key to allow for the decryption of the copywrited media without which the media is worthless. If the encyption is unique to the product and customer, and a hardware device will not play any media without the key and the device cannot play un-encrypted media then it is far more difficult for media to be ripped. Especially if the key can only decrypt the content.

By j_woolliscroft on 16 Sep 2010

Simple solution

Go to an ISP that ships Technicolor (formerly Thomson) SpeedTouch routers. The default WPA key can be determined from the broadcast SSID (there's software on the net that does it).
When the letter drops through the letterbox, deny all knowledge and claim that someone must've hacked your wireless network and used your line. You weren't told it was insecure (8 random hex digits look pretty secure, don't they?) so the blame is then passed to the ISPs. Or Technicolor.

By mspritch on 16 Sep 2010

Who should foot the bill?

You can't ask the ISP's to foot any part of the bill. They, simply put - merely provide the roads of the internet map. You can't hold the motorway builders and maintainers liable to pay you if you have a traffic accident... The people who stand to gain must foot the expense 100%

By chrisbrooks121 on 16 Sep 2010

Why send the letter?

Can't anyone see that the ISP will probably "delay" sending the warning letter, perhaps by having only one employee in charge of the sending them. That way, they don't incur cost of letter nor the cost of the legal proceedings in the first place.

Seems simple to me.

By welshalan1 on 16 Sep 2010

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