2024-04-18 14:40:25
Broadband consumers to foot £500m bill to tackle online piracy economics/market data

Broadband consumers to foot £500m bill to tackle online piracy – Times Online

Proposals to suspend the internet connections of those who repeatedly share music and films online will leave consumers with a bill for £500 million, ministers have admitted.

The Digital Economy Bill would force internet service providers (ISPs) to send warning letters to anyone caught swapping copyright material illegally, and to suspend or slow the connections of those who refused to stop. ISPs say that such interference with their customers’ connections would add £25 a year to a broadband subscription.

Ministers have not estimated the cost of the measures but say that the cost of the initial letter-writing campaign, estimated at an extra £1.40 per subscription, will lead to 40,000 households giving up their internet connections. Impact assessments published alongside the Bill predict that the measures will generate £1.7 billion in extra sales for the film and music industries over the next ten years, as well as £350 million for the Government in extra VAT.

ISPs have called on the content industries to lessen the burden on broadband consumers by contributing to the costs. Charles Dunstone, chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, whose subsidiary TalkTalk is the biggest consumer provider of broadband, said: “Broadband consumers shouldn’t have to bail out the music industry. If they really think it’s worth spending vast sums of money on these measures then they should be footing the bill; not the consumer.”
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BT also stepped up its attack on the plans, which it said represented “collective punishment that goes against natural justice”. John Petter, managing director of BT Retail’s consumer division, said: “Put yourself in the shoes of a small businessman who has a rogue member of staff. Your internet access could get cut off because of the actions of one individual. It really feels like the UK is out on a limb with these proposals compared to the rest of the world.”

Mr Petter said that the Bill, which is being rushed through Parliament before the general election next year, had been poorly thought out. He said: “The whole tenor of the way this is being introduced makes us really worried that this is all a false game. It’s like the dangerous dogs legislation, which was introduced quickly and was not effective.”

The Conservatives, who are broadly supportive of the plans, also called on the Government to spare consumers the bulk of the costs. Jeremy Hunt, the Shadow Culture Secretary, said: “It is grossly unfair that Labour expects millions of innocent customers to pay extra each month because of the actions of a minority. By their own admission this will make broadband unaffordable for tens of thousands of people, which flies in the face of government policy to increase take-up in disadvantaged communities.”

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “Many of the figures in the impact assessment for the Digital Economy Bill are expressed in ranges and some of the costs will be borne by the rightholders and some by the ISPs. The overall benefits to the country far outweigh the costs.”

A spokesman for the BPI, which represents the record industry, said: “It is in everyone’s interest that ISPs’ statutory obligations can be discharged as cost efficiently as possible — particularly those law-abiding broadband customers who currently carry the burden of infringers.

“We are confident that those costs will be a mere fraction of the stratospheric sums suggested by some ISPs, and negligibly small when set against their vast annual revenues.” The latest Star Trek movie was dowloaded illegally almost 11 million times this year, according to Torrentfreak, a download-monitoring weblog.

This year the FBI started an investigation after an unfinished version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was posted online and watched by thousands of people a month before its release.

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