Lord Mandleson is our political leader in Britain and he has a representative in the lower house, a Scot called Gordon Brown. Yesterday, as part of the release of the Digital Britain report Gordon said: “A fast internet connection is now seen by most of the public as an essential service, as indispensable as electricity, gas and water.” The problem with this is that the main use of broadband is theft. Millions of people use it to download many billions of pounds worth of digital content without paying for it. The biggest orgy of stealing in the history of humanity.
There is a massive problem with this in that if everybody steals and nobody pays for the content then the content will not be made. We have seen this many times in the game industry. And it is killing off quality television. And it damages any business that involves knowledge that can be represented digitally. Which is very many businesses in our post manufacturing, knowledge based economy. In other words for our society to work in the future the government has got to stop the thieves. There is no other option.
So it is good that Digital Britain is making the first tentative steps in this direction (the Swedes are already well ahead). It wants to force ISPs to reduce piracy by 70% in one year, supervised by OFCOM. This can be done. However even 30% of the current level still represents billions of pounds of theft. The global Anti Counterfeiting treaty will hopefully force stronger action and in more countries.
It really is about time that the worst peer to peer IP thieves were brought to court and prosecuted for their crimes. If they went on a rampant shoplifting spree in London every day they would soon be dealt with. But do exactly the same online and they currently go unpunished.
Of course the IP thieves come up with all sorts of spurious excuses to justify their actions. But then this is the same for all criminals.