Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) , Facebook, eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), Others, Battling British Piracy Bill

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

A number of companies operating in the U.K., like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) , Facebook and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), are fighting a bill which would force Web sites to be blocked by Internet service providers if they are deemed to have provided pirated content on their Web properties.

Those holding copyrights in the U.K., especially the music companies, are applauding the possibility, although not many besides them are too happy about it, including academics and places of higher learning.

To fight the proposed legislation, companies have written an open letter to the Financial Times giving their arguments as to why the parliament should reject the bill.

If the bill becomes law, those holding copyrights would be able to seek injunctions against those alleged to have provided pirated content, effectively blocking them from being on the Internet.

The obvious negative unintended effect of this bill would be companies could put up copyrighted content on competitors' Web sites to initiate the blocking of the site to their advantage.

But more than that, this puts the type of pressure on Internet companies which they may not be able to meet. How could anyone, say, block every possible video, text or audio that could have a copyright on it? How could software built for that purpose get through the many ways users of these tools upload to so many Web sites? It becomes an impossible task, whether this becomes a law or not.

If this were to happen to Britain, it could truly be a huge blow to the Internet industry, and wouldn't do much for the music industry, which is, for the most part, the ones behind the move to get this put into law.

Many other musicians and artists have thrived during the Internet wave, and so it shows it can be done. People wanting music and other media will buy it when it's priced right.

This is an obvious attempt to go back to the monopoly days where the music and other media companies were the gatekeepers and determined how things would be priced and offered to the public.

Now that the public has decided they prefer the Internet largely as the mode of delivery for the media content, the media companies have struggled or refused to adjust to the realities, which always leads to legislation when they can't compete.

Hopefully the British Parliament will reject this bill and allow things to go on as they are. If not, it's the British people who will suffer by returning to days that are long past, where the options for media access were limited and controlled by a few companies.

Article by Gary B

The views expressed are the subjective opinion of the article's author and not of

Tags: british copyright , ebay , facebook , google , yahoo

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