Lord Mandelson is planning to make cut off internet subscribers pay to appeal in infringement of copyright dispute resolution processes. In short, if you are cut off by Ofcom for illegally downloading, even if you’re innocent, you’ll have to pay to appeal against the decision.
A House of Lords committee is currently going over the Dark Lord’s Digital Economy Bill. Last night, Lord Faulkner of Worcester highlighted for the committee Amendment 200A, which “allows for the possibility that subscribers may be asked for a contribution towards the costs of the appeals process”.
Lord de Mauley expressed concern about Mandy’s plan saying: “Why are we suddenly talking about subscribers paying for the appeal in dispute resolution processes?
“So far, it has always been the responsibility of the ISPs and copyright owners to make sure that their allegations are accurate, and to bear the costs should they fail to do so. I do not see why it is suddenly suggested that subscribers must pay to clear their names if they have arrived at that situation through no fault of their own.”
Mandy’s The Digital Economy Bill, is expected to reach the Commons by late February, and proposes a set of steps to deter those illegally downloading from their Internet Service Provider. It proposes that those downloading over a certain level a month could have their internet connection suspended, which has rightly enraged, pretty much every ISP provider and internet user in town.
The 200A Amendment seemed to be approved with Lord Faulkner who admitted that the cost of appeals had already been discussed. “We do not want to make appeals expensive so that people are deterred from using them,” he said pointing out that appeals must be accessible. He mentioned that the fee, which could be refundable, should be set at a low enough level not to scare off subscribers but should also be high enough to “deter purely mischievous appeals”. So pricing will certainly not be cheap.
While, encouragingly, most of the Lords spoke knowledgably about new T’Interweb things, a few still expressed confusion over how these new-fangled over-IP gizmos worked. Lord Lucas (Ralph Lucas to his friends) seemed especially worried that the internet might force him to put some clothes on. “What is even more alarming,” He said. “Is that more and more people are using image over IP, so you can no longer answer your telephone in your bathrobe or less. You have to be very careful and rush for the make-up before you pick up Skype.” Hmm, in our book your public nudity certainly is a fineable offence Lord L.
Lord Mandelson’s office was unavailable for most of today for comment. A Virgin Media spokesperson said that they were unable to comment on the specifics of the Bill. The committee proceedings continue today.