Report: third of offenders will not change

LONDON — The jury is out on whether the U.K.’s new Digital Economy Act will lead to any real behavior change of Internet piracy in the territory.

According to a report by media law firm Wiggin LLP and Entertainment Media Research, 34% of those engaged in piracy said they would “do nothing to change,” even if the most direct action of Internet account suspension is implemented under the act. A further 32% said they would hide their IP address to protect their activity.

But 22% of the 1,592 individuals surveyed said DEA measures would lead them to take an active role in monitoring the use of their Internet account.

The Digital Economy Act, which was passed through Parliament in April, before this month’s general election, includes provisions about the online infringement of copyright and places a number of obligations on Internet service providers in order to “crack down” on digital piracy.

It has caused a stir on Blighty’s shores, mostly due to the proposal of a graduated response scheme, which will see ISPs suspend accounts of illegal file-sharers. Any fixed-line ISP with more than 400,000 customers will be required to send letters of warning to offenders and those who don’t heed the warning will see their accounts suspended for a period of time.

Simon Baggs, partner at Wiggin, said that while getting DEA passed into Parliament is a step in the right direction, he fears that implementing policy will be slow and the government should focus on tackling the Internet site source, rather than the users.

“I fear that there’s going to be a focus on the outcome of sending letters and seeing whether that’s effective rather than focusing on blocking websites,” he said. “There is a lot of anxiety that there hasn’t been sufficient debate about this in Parliament and I think it’s unfortunate that the government didn’t seize the opportunity that it had to introduce quicker legislation for blocking websites.”

But Dan Cryan, head of broadband at Screen Digest, said: “There are very few examples of legislation having an effect on piracy. What the industry needs to focus on is getting content out there quicker, making content more readily available.”

“Illegal downloading sites will keep emerging quickly,” he added. “So we need to focus on premium services with ad-funded streaming.”

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