The Pirate Party UK is both pleased and disappointed with the Government's plans for sharing the costs of the measures to tackle online infringement of copyright in the Digital Economy Act. These measures involve forcing ISPs to send notifications to those individuals that copyright owners (or their agents) have accused of infringing copyright online and to collate data on the accusations made. It is estimated by the copyright owner groups that these measures, if successful, could increase the total revenue of the various publishing industries by some £200m per year (money that will come from consumers), at an estimated cost to ISPs (and thus Internet users) of £500m per year.
While the Party is pleased that the Government recognised that forcing those accused of infringing copyright should not have to pay to defend themselves, it is disappointed that the Government has once again succumbed to the cries of a handful of copyright lobbying groups and large copyright owners and decided that ISPs (and through them, consumers) should pay for the privilege of enforcing copyright and potentially increasing the revenue of some private businesses.
Despite nearly all responses to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skill's consultation that were not from copyright owner groups calling for no costs to be paid for by the ISPs, the Government chose to disregard their arguments and abandon the legal principle of "the beneficiary pays". The argument that ISPs should pay costs to encourage them to be efficient was parroted by the Government despite many respondents highlighting the flaws in their position.
This position effectively introduces an 'Internet levy' on the UK at a time when budgets are tightening and the Government is trying to encourage the spread of Internet use. However, unlike Internet levies proposed elsewhere (to "compensate" copyright owners for the use if the Internet to infringe their copyright) this levy does not provide any benefit to the public but exists solely to prop up those few companies that would rather litigate and sue their consumers than innovate.
The Pirate Party firmly opposes the approach the Government is taking to copyright infringement by choosing to "bail out" industries that are flourishing (both the UK Film Council and BPI noted that their respective industries had seen increased, recession-beating revenue over the last year) at the financial and cultural cost of the public.