Taking a cue from North American lawmakers, politicians in the United Kingdom are planning on creating laws to deal with supposed illegal streaming of copyrighted content. The warning came from UK Communications Minister Ed Vaizey in a speech at the Intellect Consumer Electronics in London. In that speech Vaizey said that a "voluntary code of practice" being drawn up by US ISPs and content owners might be a "game-changer" in other countries. And by other countries, he means his country.
"If people are streaming live football without permission we should look at ways we can stop them," he said. "People have the right to earn money from content they create."
While he remained silent on what was decided or discussed at last week’s meeting between ISPs and content providers to discuss website blocking, he did say that what is going on in the United States is "leading the way."
"A voluntary agreement may come out of the US and if that does happen it could be a game-changer," he said.
He also said that he found the attitudes of UK ISP’s "odd," especially BT and TalkTalk’s failed legal challenge to the Digital Economy Act (DEA). The DEA is supposed to prevent piracy using peer-to-peer file-sharing and some website blocking. Of course, Vaizey’s comments are "odd" because the law also allows content providers to seek an injunction against ISPs that do not restrict access to illegal streaming sites that contain their intellectual property.
The Motion Picture Association recently sued BT over supposedly linking to members-only index site Newzbin.
The MPA wants BT to block Newzbin using the exact same system the ISP uses to block sites hosting child pornography.
That case is due to be heard in court next week.
Vaizey closed by saying that critics of website blocking are showing a degree of hypocrisy:
"They [the US government] have been tough but if they took down a website linking to fake handbags no-one would bat an eyebrow," he said. "As soon as it is a site sharing music it becomes an issue about freedom of speech."