Lord Mandelson’s recently proposed tiered response measures to stop illegal filesharing throughout the United Kingdom will not protect consumers and their rights.
Clare Corbett, a Which? campaigner, said that the idea for tiered responses to illegal filesharing is a good idea if it targets the right people. If that system does not target the right people, then it may punish the innocent and force general consumers to pay up for a system that does not work.
Which? has received reports of many people receiving letters demanding immediate payment for illegal downloading and filesharing. Most people are unable to fight an accusation from this type of government measure due to the emotional, mental and financial stress, and are left with no option but to pay a fine they may not be liable for.
While the idea may be good in theory, the government is not doing enough to ensure that the falsely accused have a method for free, fair and quick adjudication. Additionally, Corbett said that the penalties for those found at fault should be proportionate to the crime.
Which? is asking the government to provide amendments to the measures against illegal filesharing in order to ensure the protection of rights for the innocent, the falsely accused and the guilty. The first and most important amendment Which? has asked for is a fair adjudication and appeals process for those that have been accused of illegal downloading and filesharing.
Which? has also asked for a penalties system that allows for proportionate fines as well as a means for the rights holders to use the system provided by government rather than a lawyer as the first method of resolution. It has also been listed as Which? that the government should hold rights holders accountable for ensuring that their own lawyers are targeting the correct individuals and that these lawyers are using an appropriate standard of professional conduct in treating the accused with respect and fairness.
Lastly, which? has asked that the government use information provided by Internet Service Providers to challenge or confirm the evidences and information provided by rightsholders making accusations against individuals or groups.
It is the opinion of Which? that the practice of illegal filesharing and downloading will continue without proper measures taken and that more innocent and falsely accused individuals will be targeted rather than the actual offenders.