UK Government will not cut off file-sharers 'willy nilly'

Persistent file-sharers would not be cut off 'willy nilly' in plans for a tough crackdown on Internet piracy by the British government, according to Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw. Lord Mandelson said last month that persistent file-sharers could have their connections cut-off, but only after written warnings.

Appearing before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Bradshaw was asked if suspected file-sharers would be able to prove their innocence in court.

Answering the question, Bradshaw said, "Yes, absolutely. The suspension to which you refer, which would be as a very last resort for serial and serious infringement, would be subject to a strict two-stage process. It wouldn't just happen on the basis of an accusation ... firstly there would need to be a court order for any of the technical measures."

He added that a court order would be the last resort and that he hoped the impression was not that "innocent teenagers are going to be cut off willy nilly on the basis of an accusation. That is not our intention."

Bradshaw also said that he believes there shouldn't be "anarchy" on the Internet.

"This is a problem which governments around the world have been grappling with," he said. "I do not accept the argument that there should be anarchy on the internet, that everyone should be able to access what they like free of charge."

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Means arbitrariness

Arbitrariness is a term given to choices and actions subject to individual will, judgment or preference, based solely upon an individual's opinion or discretion.

Arbitrary decisions are not necessarily the same as random decisions. For example, during the 1973 oil crisis, Americans were allowed to purchase gasoline only on odd-numbered days if their license plate was odd, and on even-numbered days if their license plate was even. The system was well-defined and not random in its restrictions; however, since license plate numbers are completely unrelated to a person's fitness to purchase gasoline, it was still an arbitrary division of people. Similarly, schoolchildren are often organized by their surname in alphabetical order, a non-random yet still arbitrary method, at least in cases where surnames are irrelevant.

Heh, It never occurred to me that people wouldn't understand that. I guess it didn't occur to the author, either

It means, like, haphazardly. I guess

I share mods and linux ISOs on bittorrent and I am worried that my high bittorrent traffic will lead them to accuse me of filesharing... I don't especially want to have to prove my innocence in court when I have other things to do with my life.

They can accuse you of file sharing all they want, file sharing is not illegal.

File sharing copyrighted content is.

It's up to them to prove you have been sharing copyrighted content. You've got nothing to worry about.

The original article said,
...would be able to prove their innocence in court.

Since when has our justice system required somebody to prove their innocence?

TCLN Ryster said,
Since when has our justice system required somebody to prove their innocence?

Very good point that is often missed. Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Yes, it's at the beginning of every "Cops" episode, but it's also true.

How do people that share there own files go on? I am downloading a mod for HL2 on utorrent, is that file sharing? Surely they can't disconnect me for that. If they need to look at the file in question then encryption would be placed on it? I think there is to many questions here. I would also love to see how many people do get letters, or will it be some 13 year old girl that shared 2 MP3s and now has to pay 6 million on damages as a 'Warning Case' and that is it?

robyholmes said,
or will it be some 13 year old girl that shared 2 MP3s and now has to pay 6 million on damages as a 'Warning Case' and that is it?


UK courts would never award such ridiculous damages payments as the US courts do. Our laws simply don't allow for it.

Strangely neither does the US system allow for it, the supreme law and foundation of the US legal system clearly forbids it... The United States Constitution Eight Amendment (Bill of Rights) clearly forbids excessive fines.

So why does this happen is beyond me?

I know the government is made up all mp's from different parties, with Labour being the majority.

Their boat has all but sunk and become the 21st century Titanic.

This ruling will not help them get votes from file sharers.

I think they should charge a levy on all software and music sold.

50 pence per item.

That should help.

leesmithg said,
This ruling will not help them get votes from file sharers.

When you are in power making new laws is not always about what is popular, governments need to do things for the right reason not just to win votes.

When you are in opposition, you can say what you like in order to win votes, when they get into power it becomes a different story.

I agree with stevember. If you sold a piece of software for $40 and it's truly worth the price, how would you feel if some child downloads it illegally for 50 pence.

Pestbest said,
I agree with stevember. If you sold a piece of software for $40 and it's truly worth the price, how would you feel if some child downloads it illegally for 50 pence.


Big companies don't have feeling. They want your money and will do everything they can to get it.

Laws need to be enforced. No doubt about it. But not at the cost of user rights.

The Police has a job to do and it needs to be done without revoking normal people right to a private life.

LaP said,
Big companies don't have feeling. They want your money and will do everything they can to get it.

Laws need to be enforced. No doubt about it. But not at the cost of user rights.

The Police has a job to do and it needs to be done without revoking normal people right to a private life.


Fully agree.

LaP said,
The Police has a job to do and it needs to be done without revoking normal people right to a private life.

To be fair, privacy and anonymity are two separate topics.

You don't have to be anonymous to have privacy (I have a driving licence, but I don't have people watching my every move in my house); and to the same end you don't have to have privacy to be anonymous, I can walk down the street in a balaclava while being watched on CCTV, I don't have privacy, but I'm anonymous.

This isn't about losing privacy, in fact its not even about losing anonymity, its about enforcing copyright law on an invisible battlefield.

Of course they will not, the last thing they want is for people to be frightened to use the Internet.

However, wait for the paranoid tin hat people. Here they come...

ITS A CONSPIRACY...

... Ahem. Actually I totally agree, the introduction of this would change very little for the average web user, but it would hit the big sharers badly (i.e. those who share their entire music and video collections over Limewire and/or Bittorrent).

However, I would be interested to know HOW they're going to be finding the culprits. Inspecting everyones packets as they go through the ISP isn't cool.

Majesticmerc said,
ITS A CONSPIRACY...

... Ahem. Actually I totally agree, the introduction of this would change very little for the average web user, but it would hit the big sharers badly (i.e. those who share their entire music and video collections over Limewire and/or Bittorrent).

However, I would be interested to know HOW they're going to be finding the culprits. Inspecting everyones packets as they go through the ISP isn't cool.

The same method as they do now - the record labels and their cronies will harvest IPs from the P2P networks, usually seeking out a specific title before taking note of all the IPs offering up the file.

FloatingFatMan said,
It's also against data protection and privacy laws, too.

And governments care?
Last I heard, so long as they're making money they don't care less.
(eg. EU constition)

stevember said,
However, wait for the paranoid tin hat people. Here they come...


There's as much gullible people as paranoid ones ...