Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

Peitions are too easy: respond to the consultation on file sharing

When I signed the 38 degrees petition asking Mandy not to force through disconnection sanctions by secondary legislation that MPs will never vote on, I duly posted the link to facebook saying 'but to make any difference, respond to the consultation'. Is there a consultation to respond to yet? Yes there is, and thanks to the new emphasis on 'cutting them off, it's the only language they understand' the consultation has been extended until 29th September so get your reasoned arguments in now.

you can read the consultation document here: - the questions to give your answers to - better than a free-form rant - are on page 30. Email: or with your reply (if you want to call or fax, the details are on page 5 of the document).

The questions are also dotted through the document so you can understand the context so you want to read as much of the document as you can so you're not just repeating an argument they've already addressed.

You do want to read the report anyway. It's full of gems like the admission that the burden on ISPs will make Internet access more expensive: "ISPs excluded from the legal obligation would be able to offer a lower subscription price to customers than larger ISPs since they wouldn’t need to bear the costs of implementing the legislation." How much will it cost?
One-off Capital cost to ISPs £35m
Annual average costs Cost of notification £7.5-24.5m
Annual average costs Cost of running a call centre £60k
Annual average costs Cost to consumers £2-9m
Annual average costs Capital and operating cost to mobile network operators £19m
Annual average costs Operating cost to ISPs - apparently that's free as the entry is blank; they can do it in their copious spare time.
"Following our assumption that annual costs to ISPs increase by £6-£20 million per year and that this cost is fully transferred to consumer prices, broadband retail prices would increase between £0.40 and £1.40 per year. This represents an increase of the annual price between 0.2% and 0.6%." You know, I don't think it will work like that. We'll all be subbing ten-yea costs admitted at £190 million - without counting what it will cost the taxpayer to set up the rights agency the industry wants and assuming that all ISPs will set up a call centre to answer questions jointly, and very amusingly assmuing that a call or email in query will take up only ten minutes of the ISP employees time. And it's apparently OK if the higher prices put people off and ISPs make between £2 and £9 million a year less because of this, as long as the rights holders get their day in the sun.

How much are the record industries suffering? Ooh, lots. Any numbers? "Estimates of sales displacement range from 0% to 20% of total revenues since figures are very sensitive to the methodology used and the country and industry analysed". So, er, it depends on how you count it but it might be lots. It might be... But only one 5-year-old study says 20% and three say 0. None of these surveys are recent enough to take into account the impact of legal streaming options like Spotify and Hulu. "And the consultation does include what we all know; file sharing isn't necessarily bad for business. "Even though some
file-sharers will have substituted legal purchases for illegal downloads, there are positive spillover effects from file-sharing that may increase sales of the creative content industries. These positive spillovers would be lost when implementing legislation." And, er: "According to the BBC within 10 days of the game's launch, more than half a million people had downloaded a pirated version of the game using P2P technology. In comparison legitimate sales of Spore have passed the
2m mark."

Apparently, the 'legislation' (I'm loathe to refer to a secondary instrument from the civil service as if it were a law debated by parliament) will have no impact on "Legal Aid, Sustainable Development, Carbon Assessment, Other Environment, Health Impact Assessment, Race Equality, Disability Equality, Gender Equality, Human Rights and Rural Proofing". So more expensive Internet connections won't affect rural areas that are hard to connect disproportionately? The assumption of guilt (how do you distinguish legal and illegal file sharing at the packet level?) won;t affect human rights, nor will bypassing EU human rights legislation, nor will disconnecting people from what's considered to be a vital service. The scanning systems won't use any electricity it seems; hence no impact on sustainability and carbon levels. And no-one can be wrongly accused when it was a child in the family or someone using an unsecured Wi-Fi link, so they won't turn to legal aid for defence. Yeah, right.

There's also an admission that, well, we don't need the sanction of disconnection. "Results from the Digital Entertainment Survey (2008) indicate that 70% of unlawful P2P filesharers would stop downloading digital products if they received a call or letter from their Internet Service Provider."
Tags: internet, politics, rant

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