UK Looks to US for Inspiration in Web Site Blocking Law

July 5, 2011 -

Taking a cue from North American lawmakers, politicians in the United Kingdom are planning on creating laws to deal with supposed illegal streaming of copyrighted content. The warning came from UK Communications Minister Ed Vaizey in a speech at the Intellect Consumer Electronics in London. In that speech Vaizey said that a "voluntary code of practice" being drawn up by US ISPs and content owners might be a "game-changer" in other countries. And by other countries, he means his country.

"If people are streaming live football without permission we should look at ways we can stop them," he said. "People have the right to earn money from content they create."

While he remained silent on what was decided or discussed at last week's meeting between ISPs and content providers to discuss website blocking, he did say that what is going on in the United States is "leading the way."

"A voluntary agreement may come out of the US and if that does happen it could be a game-changer," he said.

He also said that he found the attitudes of UK ISP's "odd," especially BT and TalkTalk's failed legal challenge to the Digital Economy Act (DEA). The DEA is supposed to prevent piracy using peer-to-peer file-sharing and some website blocking. Of course, Vaizey's comments are "odd" because the law also allows content providers to seek an injunction against ISPs that do not restrict access to illegal streaming sites that contain their intellectual property.

The Motion Picture Association recently sued BT over supposedly linking to members-only index site Newzbin.

The MPA wants BT to block Newzbin using the exact same system the ISP uses to block sites hosting child pornography.

That case is due to be heard in court next week.

Vaizey closed by saying that critics of website blocking are showing a degree of hypocrisy:

"They [the US government] have been tough but if they took down a website linking to fake handbags no-one would bat an eyebrow," he said. "As soon as it is a site sharing music it becomes an issue about freedom of speech."

Source: BBC


Comments

Re: UK Looks to US for Inspiration in Web Site Blocking Law

To say that the US is leading the way on anything right now is a joke. It's the corporations/industries that are the ones leading the way: the MPAA and RIAA and others who simply have too much cash to throw around to buy people off to get their way.

Re: UK Looks to US for Inspiration in Web Site Blocking Law

The RIAA and MPAA are American.

Re: UK Looks to US for Inspiration in Web Site Blocking Law

I think what he means is that the US, as a whole, are not necessarily leading the way on anything, not that US companies aren't (and as far I'm concerned, companies in the US don't represent the entirety of the US, regardless whether it's the MPAA/RIAA or not).

Aside from that, I think it's rather presumptuious to assume that the United States is "leading the way" on anything, whether they actually are or not.

Ontopic: My main issue with these laws is that they tend to go after the wrong websites. They shut down websites merely linking to illegal content but seem completely oblivious of the websites that are actually being linked to.

Another issue is one that websites such as YouTube have encountered since their inception. It's an issue that arises with pretty much any user-driven website, such as video, image and file hosts.

Google has, on ocassion, been sued for hosting videos [on YouTube] that infringe upon copyright laws. Of course, the argument is pretty simple: It's not Google's fault that their users post copyrighted content without permission, and whilst Google (and similar sites) probably try their best to get rid of them as quickly as possible (okay, Google doesn't, but anyway...) they shouldn't be expected to watch every single piece of data uploaded to their servers as soon as it hits their servers.

Most of these services don't have proactive protection, they don't have a large group of moderators monitoring every video or image that comes into contact with the servers, as that wouldn't be cost-efficient and you'd need so many people to monitor something as large as YouTube (hence why they employ the users themselves to report).

TL;DR: The hosts of the user-driven website shouldn't be the ones the law goes after, the people who are uploading the content in the first place should be. Same premise as those linking to what may be considered illegal.

To use the example in the article: I would compare somebody linking to a site selling fake handbags with somebody merely talking about fake handbags and where you could buy them. It's not illegal for me to know where to buy illegal products (though it might be considered morally irresponsible not to report these places), it's illegal for me to engage in the act of buying or selling the products (or to bear accomplice to somebody else doing so).

Well, it isn't in New Zealand anyway. The US is an entirely different country, with entirely different laws.

Re: UK Looks to US for Inspiration in Web Site Blocking Law

Of course the US is leading the way. It doesn't matter who the puppet masters are as long as the puppets follow the commands.

E. Zachary Knight
Divine Knight Gaming

Re: UK Looks to US for Inspiration in Web Site Blocking Law

I wonder how long until we get a mini trade war going.... at the moment we mostly have the US saying 'this is illegal here, so we can shut down the website world wide'... what happens when a US company following US law has its global presence shut down because it violates another country's rules?

I think mostly the US government is happy about this because they do not see it as possible.. when yahoo auctions was found breaking local rules it only had to filter out individual countries but its main operation kept going.  What would the political fallout have looked like if France was able to kick all of yahoo off the net, even for US customers?

Re: UK Looks to US for Inspiration in Web Site Blocking Law

"They [the US government] have been tough but if they took down a website linking to fake handbags no-one would bat an eyebrow," he said.

That's true.  I don't think anyone would ever bat an eyebrow.  I'm not sure that's even physiologically possible.

Teasing aside, instead of blocking sites linking to fake handbags, why not block the sites selling fake handbags?

 

Andrew Eisen

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