Lib Dem peer on why site blocking is needed

Lib Dem peer on why site blocking is needed

Summary: Lord Clement-Jones discusses the Digital Economy Bill amendment that would see ISPs block access to websites offering copyright-infringing material


...people accessing it to unlawfully download, they've got to do something about that.

I find it odd that the reaction to this amendment seems to be based on the idea that it's not legitimate to defend copyright. If people are upfront about this, and say, "We don't believe in copyright", then I understand where they're coming from but I disagree.

But Limewire is a P2P client for the PC, rather than a website. Being connected to the internet, it might be possible to see it as an 'online location'. How would the amendment affect such an application? Would ISPs have to block it?
You've already got the peer-to-peer remedies in the Digital Economy Bill. That's what it's all about. That's what the possible technical measures code is all about. That bit of the bill is entirely designed to deal with P2P file sharing.

You can only detect on the upload, you can't detect on the download. By and large, the big issue is that people can only detect what's happening on the upload. The only new thing is that this deals with downloads from websites. You can identify the website — you can't identify the subscribers and you wouldn't want to.

Might an effect of this amendment not be to make people turn to encryption and other means of bypassing the block?
Be that as it may — and I'm not sure that's the case — this would not be a universal way of behaving.

If you look at what's happening with child pornography sites and other objectionable content, there hasn't been a growth in encrypted sites. People will realise when they contemplate setting up a site with a copyright-infringing business model, they will decide not to go ahead.

You have previously drawn this analogy between blocking copyright-infringing sites and blocking child pornography sites. Some people have expressed surprise at the comparison — how do you respond?
I was using it as an illustration to demonstrate that site blocking already exists. It is perfectly legitimate to do that. This is not a novel concept. There are sites that are identified as being blocked in various fields. I am not saying child pornography is equivalent to copyright infringement.

But is there not an important distinction to be made, in that child pornography is a criminal offence, while copyright infringement is a civil matter?
I don't think so, no. If you're infringing somebody's copyright on the web, it's something that should not be taking place.

Some comparisons have been made between your amendment and the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which has in some cases seen businesses making claims against rivals, so as to hurt their business. Could this not happen here?
I think it's a matter of people testing it in the court. I don't think that will happen, because the courts will be pretty canny at knowing whether people are taking the mickey in the first place. They may take something down temporarily, but that's not really the point.

It has to be a copyright owner who is aggrieved that their material is on a website without permission. This is not some great freedom fight for the individual. Most of these infringing websites are commercial interests — maybe not all the P2P sites, but a lot of the non-P2P sites are commercial sites.

Do you think your amendment might need further tweaking to prevent it being used for some kind of censorship?
If there are rough edges to the amendment, we'll certainly look at those. If people have genuine amendments they want to put forward, I'd be perfectly happy to look at that, and I hope the government would too. But I don't believe, in its current form, there is any possibility of censorship.

Topics: Broadband, Government UK, Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Unintended consequences?

    Lord Clement Jones doesn't seem to be concerned that the wording of the Bill could force the owners of WiFi access points to react to requests to block offending sites and applications. I can see that many access points will close down rather than face the hassle of threats from lawyers and ISPs
  • Lord Clement Jones

    Why didn't the interviewer ask LCJ about the
  • Shear stupidity

    It is the resposibility of the publisher to stop thier media being copied - this has come about because they are too lasy or stupid to (jointly) work out a solution.

    The other far more important issue is that this will become very one-sided where the publisher can demand the "cut-off" of an internet connection when it can be nearly imposible to guarantee that the correct person is being targetted.

    It would be far better and far less draconian (anti human rights) to simply "hire out" tunes and videos in LOWER QUALITY thus encouraging people to "Try before they buy" .... the problem is that 90% of the media that is published is REALLY RUBBISH ... if it is genuinely good people will want to "keep/buy a copy for posterity" most times they want to listen to see "if it is worth buying" ... generally not. (WE have some movies that REALLY ARE GOOD - we bought copies so we could play them over and over again - but then you miss out on pay-per-view .....

    Irronically some of the VERY BEST material has long since been "out of print" and so the ONLY way to obtain this material is to Copy it from sites or friends that (can) make it available.

    I have a collection of Vinyl LPS of some very iconnic and "classic" performances. Virtually every one of these LP has long since been out of print and were never released on CD - likewise films never converted to DVD.

    Besides it is so simple to copy a movie from the TV Channels (in HD) or Music from the Wireless (digital direct to CD) - will you bann these media outlets next ? Why would anyone really want to buy stuff when it can be obtained so easily other ways and buy "off the shelf" products. These days too many items are "forced down our throats" ... in retaliation people want / need time to evaluate the product to see if they really want to purchase it - try before you buy.

    This kind of censorship will simply eveolve into something more draconian - censoship of the internet IS A VER BAD IDEA GENERALLY and one has to ask "what ever happened to freedom to act as you wish provide no one is harmed" .... contrary to the media moguls hype .... the people who download Movies and Music would never have 'purchased it anyway - they would simply find someone else to copy it from and and every CD, DVD, Video, Music track CAN be copied (the technology is freely available (under Windows Apps) .... like they did before the Internet made it a little easier.

    If you want to give an excuse for future censorship GENERALLY .... then allow this to go through ..... if you want to keep the internet for its intended purposes then it should never ever be censored and ISPs should not be expected to clear up the mess caused by the Media providers.

    I rest my case mi'lord
  • what error may I ask please ??
  • It appears any too severe criticisms relating to our house of lords, unelected though they are is totally blocked .... free speech .... since when.
  • Disgusted though not surprised ...