Blog Post

Culture Secretary Says Suspected Pirates Will Get Right Of Appeal

Here’s something of a climbdown to warm the hearts of pirated content fans everywhere: the government has signaled it is to add safeguard measures to Lord Mandelson’s controversial P2P disconnection plans and will give accused illegal file-sharers the right to appeal against disconnection.

As Guardian.co.uk reports, culture secretary Ben Bradshaw told the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday: “The suspensions to which you refer would be a very last resort for serious … infringement. It wouldn’t just happen … on the basis of an accusation.”

Under Mandelson’s plan (pdf) — which made him the toast of Hollywood and much admired among record labels — Ofcom will send out warnings letters to people suspected of piracy by rights holders, before a list of technical measures such as bandwidth throttling are considered and only then is disconnection considered on receipt of a court order.

Conceding that the accused should have a right to defend themselves bows to strong opposition from MPs, consumers, musicians and – most importantly – the ISPs which will ultimately be called on to carry out sanctions and disconnections. The only people still strongly backing Mandelson’s original plan is the music industry that lobbied so hard for it in the first place.

This mirrors how the French government had to water down their piracy disconnection plans before the “three strikes” Creation Et L’Internet bill could be passed, after the country’s constitutional court ruled that to disconnect users without giving them a fair trial would be unconstitutional.

The government plans to include these measures in a Digital Communications bill which will be debated in the commons this year, after the Queen’s Speech in November.