Beware illegal downloaders

File-sharing across the internet has snowballed more than initially thought in the last 10 years. The younger generation could be said to have a complete disregard for copyright law as it now considered normal to simply download a song from YouTube or BitTorrent instead of lawfully buying it through iTunes or HMV – (HMV seem to be the last of a string of high street stores suffering from the surge of online buying/downloading).

In response to the illegal file sharing ISPs are reportedly about to unveil a new warning system to combat the issue. This system supposedly, however, raises quite a few issues and could potentially draw a lot of criticism.

The system is graduated and consequences intensify as the infringer continues file-sharing. The first two warnings seem to use an innocent until proven guilty approach, it assumes that the accused is not aware of their acts and provides them with an informative website, showing them whether their computer contains file-sharing software. The subsequent warnings become more intimidating, including a video showing the consequences of copyright infringement.

A similar 3 warning system was implemented in France and results showed a dramatic decrease in the amount of illegal file-sharing. A considerable amount of first warnings were issued (1.5 million) but this dramatically dropped to only 340 third warnings meaning that the public took notice of the warning and took immediate action. Of those final warnings, only 2 have actually been convicted resulting from investigations of 14 cases.

The question is whether this is necessary, should the government unite with other forces to try and punish individual illegal file-sharers, or should they simply nip it in the bud and agree with internet providers not to accommodate for such sites?

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