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March 3, 2010

Peers propose blocks on sites hosting illegal content

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by Darren Allan

Liberal Democrat and Conservative Lords have put forward an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill which would crack down on sites that hosted illegal content.

The exact aim of the proposed new clause is to “prevent access to specified online locations for the prevention of online copyright infringement”.

It would mean that if a website happens to host a “substantial proportion” of copyright infringing material, ISPs will be forced to block it.

Quite how a “substantial proportion” will be defined is another question.

Already there are worried whispers across the Internet aether that this could potentially affect vast sharing sites such as YouTube. (And how could we live without YouTube – there’d be no more videos of cats playing piano for us).

In all seriousness, it’s a worryingly line to pursue, as any form of censorship of the Internet could be a slippery slope to descend.

As the Open Rights Group points out: “This would open the door to a massive imbalance of power in favour of large copyright holding companies. Individuals and small businesses would be open to massive ‘copyright attacks’ that could shut them down, just by the threat of action.”

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