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DEBATES 2011 - Intellectual property - Graduated response in Great Britain, the USA and New Zealand

Following the publication of the Hargreaves’ report, the British government has clarified its position. First, format shifting from CDs and DVDs to digital format for private use will be allowed without any compensation for content producers. In many countries, especially France, Spain and Germany, supports allowing private copying are subject to a tax. A part of the price is paid back to copyright collecting societies. The English musicians' union worried, but the Hargreaves’ report already answered that  it was only representing a practice already common and that therefore it would have no prejudice for the music and audiovisual industry. A digital right exchange, a one stop shop to facilitate their sale by the right holders, will be implemented. A feasibility study of the project has been launched; the findings are expected by the end of the year. Finally, exceptions to copyright will be introduced to facilitate parodies or creative use of existing content and database use for scientific research. Among others, the British Library welcomed the government's responses, noting that the report's proposals Hargreaves are important for research and innovation. The Government believes that these initiatives could generate 4 to 8 billion pounds a year.

The strategy of the Digital Economy Act (DEA)  has been clarified.  The government gives up the blocking of websites providing access to illegal content, as originally intended by the law. This decision was taken following recommendations of a report submitted to the British government by Ofcom - Office of communications, Independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries -  considering that websites blocking  (URL or equivalent) is not necessarily efficient, whereas filtering is more relevant when applied to copyrighted works. The recommendation of Ofcom is opposed to the first steps of blocking websites directly from their URL. Indeed, in a recent trial, the operator BT was asked to block access to Newzbin2, a sharing website. At the time this decision was presented as a victory for the Motion Picture associations, representing main film studios. Finally, it will be the graduated response that will be implemented gradually. A first step of mailing is planned, being effective in 2013. Then, if that is not enough, Internet access will be suspended.  However, the decision may be challenged through an advance of 20 pounds, which will be refunded if the plaintiff wins the case.

The principle of graduated response is not only popular in Europe, the United States and New Zealand are following the footsteps of France and the UK. Indeed in New Zealand, the principle came into force on the 1st of September 2011. It is based on three steps as in France: the first is for informational purposes and the last is a penalty - a fine or suspension of Internet access for 6 months. The collection of IP addresses of Internet users by the rights holders has already begun this summer. In July in the United States music and film industries signed an agreement with Internet service providers (including AT & T, Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable) - a measure that does not pass by a judiciary authorities - to notify by email Internet users which shares illegally content via P2P. This is a more "light" version than in other countries with 5 or 6 “educative” warning (and not three as in France). No Internet cuts are imposed if the user does not give up its illegal practices, but only rate clamping which makes irrelevant the use of P2P.

Finally, in this active period of reflection on ways of strengthening respect for copyright in the digital age, the British company PRS for Music  (Performing Right Society)  suggests the introduction of "traffic light" to indicate with a green or red light on the search engines if a site facilitates piracy: when you pass over the link a message will appear "this site links to unlicensed media." This measure is thought as a process of education and responsibility of users. It does not block access to the site, but it warns Internet user that the website on which her or he runs, offers illegal content, the system also has the advantage of highlighting the legal offers. How will these websites be labeled? On which principles will they be classified? PRS for music suggests the creation of an administrative authority, insisting on its necessary independence to ensure that the principle can be accepted by all. A notification will be sent to the website in case of sharing illegal content. If there is no answer, a red warning signal will automatically be added close to its link in the results of search engines.

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