All roads lead to Corfu

The U.K. was taking a different tack to digital piracy from what might be called the Sarkozy-U2 Approach of getting the people who supply the bandwidth to force their customers to use it in an appropriate way. John Naughton makes the underhand suggestion that a dinner party during Lord Mandelson’s vacation was enough to bring the U.K. into line:

Lord Carter, for his part, took a judicious view of the matter. Responsibility for curbing piracy would be handed to Ofcom, the communications regulator, which would be given powers that would oblige ISPs to inform persistent pirates of the illegality of their actions, and allow alleged infringers to be identified and pursued if they ignored warnings. ISPs would also be encouraged to use bandwidth reduction and protocol blocking to stymie persistent offenders.

But the idea of blocking access was rejected, and it was decided that the earliest date that new rules could take effect under this approach would be 2012. Given the thicket of legal, political and potential human rights issues that surround the problem, this seemed like a realistic approach. And then, in one of those strange coincidences that make one want to study statistics, Lord Mandelson went on holiday to Corfu.

On August 7 he dined at the Rothschild family villa on the island in company with one David Geffen, a noted record industry mogul. Nothing odd in that, you may think; Lord Mandelson does that kind of thing all the time. But soon after he got back to his Whitehall office, his officials had second thoughts about Lord Carter’s measured approach to online piracy. “The objective of the legislation and the nature of the obligations we proposed remain unchanged,” they explained. “However, our thinking on the process supporting the objectives and the obligations has developed”.

You bet it has. Their consultation document says the Carter plan would take too long to implement “given the pressure put on the creative industries by piracy”. Instead, ISPs would be obliged to block access to download sites, throttle broadband connections or even temporarily cut off access for repeat offenders. It is clearly envisaged that the new measures will be bundled into the Bill, which will implement the main proposals of the Digital Britain report.

via The Times. I’m not sure Geffen would have made all that difference, and I’m not clear what the difference is between an ISP that cuts back bandwidth when it comes to offenders and THROTTLES bandwidth. More importantly, Rothschild Island is becoming a kind of Summer reality show, in which British politicians and celebrities frolick to such an extent that it taints anything the British government does . Last year it was Oleg Deripaska and aluminium tarriffs on Rothschild Island. This year, it’s David Geffen and internet piracy. And next year, will Mandelson be able to fit in an episode of Rothschild Island before the election? Perhaps some kind of vote-rigging scandal can be cooked up off the China-blue seas of Corfu.

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