Software Lobby Joins Calls For Filesharer Disconnection

Anti piracy software lobby group the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has said that it backs disconnecting users who repeatedly engage in software piracy. The group said that the move was necessary because of the failure of other strategies.

"Some anti-piracy content identification and filtering technologies may play a useful role in deterring piracy in some limited cases, but they are not a 'silver bullet' solution to piracy," it said in a policy statement.

"[The BSA supports] the imposition of appropriate sanctions, including blocking a user, blocking a site, and the suspension or termination of internet service for individual repeat offenders," it said.

The UK Government has recently performed a u-turn on the issue of disconnecting alleged file sharing internet users. It has included a late addition to an ongoing consultation in which it backs disconnection in a reversal of the policies outlined in its Digital Britain report.

Unlike the UK Government's proposal, though, the BSA has recommended that any disconnection have judicial oversight or, failing that, a contractual basis.

"Such sanctions against individual repeat offenders shall be based on either breach of contract, i.e., the terms of subscriber’s contract with the service provider … or through a decision by an administrative or judicial entity, provided such entity gives all parties an opportunity to be heard and to present evidence, and that the decision can be appealed before an impartial court. Before an order becomes final, parties shall have the opportunity to have the order stayed pending appeal to courts," it said.

The BSA lobbies against businesses' use of pirated software and, aware that businesses could be severely affected by any interruption in their internet access, underlined its view that no disconnection should occur lightly.

"BSA opposes the termination of ISP services or any other sanctions or penalties imposed on alleged infringers without due process and, at a minimum, a right of appeal to a judicial authority, except when such penalties are imposed as a result of a breach of contract with the service provider," it said.

The BSA said that something needed to be done because of the seriousness of the problem, but that lawmakers should not ignore the fact that most users are legitimate.

"Online piracy presents a serious and immediate threat to software developers as well as to other copyright-based industries," it said. "Too many persons now treat illicit acquisition of copyrighted works online as a routine matter, ignoring the fact that they are engaging in illegal acts."

"But it is important not to lose track of the fact that the vast majority of individuals and businesses use software, computers, and the internet for a myriad of legal and legitimate personal and business reasons," said its statement.