Westminster panel: Anti-piracy legislation should reflect consumer behaviour
By Colin Mann

Measures to combat illegal accessing and sharing of copyright material online should reflect actual consumer behaviour, rather than impose ‘carrot and stick’ remedies, according to panellists at the Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar on implementing provisions of the the UK’s Digital Economy Act relating to site-blocking and termination of Internet access .

Campbell Cowie, Director of Internet Policy, Consumer Group at UK comms regulator Ofcom, suggested it was important to establish whether the pay-TV market was under threat, or a market adapting its business models. Another important factor was the effectiveness of enforcement led by better business models and educational framework. “It’s all about changing incentives,” he said, pointing out that the Act should help reduce unlawful peer-to-peer sharing and that site-blocking should raise the cost of doing business illegally. “You have to reduce the incentives to circumvent,” he advised.

Dr Binchem Meng, Lecturer, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science, described site-blocking as a “crude” method of tackling the issue, and stressed the importance of understanding consumer behaviour and developing new business models. “You shouldn’t just look at formulating policy from the viewpoint of rights-holders,” she warned. Misha Mitra, Head of Internet Policy at BT Group, said that measures should address “not just ‘sticks and carrots’, but real-life behaviour.”