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Talk Talk join BT

Another ISP expresses concern over the government's file-sharing proposals

  • 30/09/2009
  • Georgie Rogers
Feargal Sharkey

The war of words between Internet Service Providers and the music industry over what to do with people who download music illegally has stepped up a gear.

Talk Talk have joined BT, who hit out yesterday, at the government’s proposals for ISPs to disconnect file-sharers that are breaking the law.

BT have said it would cost them £365 million a year to police the internet.

Talk Talk spokesman Andrew Heaney told 6 Music the idea just won't work and if ISPs are made to pay for policing, it will lead to higher bills for customers.

"It’s unfair for broadband customers to basically pay copyright enforcement tax," he said.

While he stressed Talk Talk does not condone or profit from music piracy, it is concerned about how the government is proposing to tackle the problem.

"What they’re actually suggesting is that if a rights holder - a music company or a label - thinks that somebody’s broken a copyright law, then there’s a sanction applied to them and they don’t have a right to a fair trial. It’s just morally and legally unjust," Heaney explained.

'Work with all ISPs'

Somewhat caught in the middle is Feargal Sharkey, head of industry body UK Music, who reckons the debate has got a bit out of hand.

He outlined their position and said: "We have absolutely no ambition to criminalise generations of young people, nor do we have any ambition to disconnect people off the internet and in fact, neither have government, because they’ve not said that.

"Again it’s just part of the rhetoric and the very emotive language that some people are using right now."

The government is currently in a consultation period, discussing the issue.

In recent weeks, the downloading debate has been brought to the fore by Lily Allen and members of the Featured Artists Coalition, a body which acts as a voice for musicians.

After a meeting last Thursday (24 Sept), more than 100 musicians collectively called for the 'squeezing' of internet bandwidths as a solution, rather than severing people’s internet connections all together.

The ISPs are not united - Sky have come out and said in public they are going to support government proposals.

As for moving the debate on, Sharkey suggested: "Clearly what we need to do is work with all of the ISPs, both those that are supporting government proposals and those that have some other opinions, to find a way to move this thing forward."

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