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BPI to launch UK sue ‘em all campaign

Hacks at Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music’s BPI wrote much of the text openly used by the British government, and the BPI now has an open door to revive a UK version of the failed sue ‘em all campaign originally launched by the Big 4’s RIAA in America in 2003.

BPI general factotum Geoffrey Taylor (right) revealed “exclusively” to Billboard that the BPI will “reluctantly return to suing individual file-sharers again in the period before technical measures potentially kick in around late 2011 or early 2012″.

Taylor says “potentially” because instant technical disconnect measures were abandoned by the government.

The BPI clearly believes, however, that its ongoing lobbying efforts will eventually bear fruit.

“The law was given Royal Assent on April 8, and copyright holders and Internet Service Providers will now draw up a code of practice to be overseen by telecoms regulator Ofcom”, says the story.

Taylor says the BPI feels it can now get ISPs to follow established corporate music policy of acting against customers.

“We took a very deliberate decision to move away from that [in 2006] and focus on account holder responsibility and to get ISPs to play a role because we feel that it is much better that an account holder should get information and education before there’s any possibility of legal action, and one of the merits of this bill is that it enables that”, he obfuscates, going on, “We would actually much prefer that the problem is tackled through technical measures than through litigation.

“Government disagreed with us, regrettably, and decided not to bring the technical measures into effect immediately and has said to us that it expects us to bring legal cases and that it will take that into account when it looks at whether or not to introduce technical measures.”

But it’s not the BPI’s fault, Taylor tells Billboard.

It “may well have to bring lawsuits at some level”, a move “apparently expected of us by government”.

He goes on >>>

I think the government believes that we ought to enforce our own rights. As I’ve said, we believe it would be better that there be letters followed by technical measures, and litigation only really reserved for people who have continued despite technical measures. And we weren’t able to persuade government that that was what should be done, so we are left with letters as the first response, the possibility of litigation accompanying them, but then the intro of technical measures if that first stage doesn’t result in a 70% reduction [in levels of file-sharing].

As I say this is not our favored approach, however government is saying to us that it does expect us to enforce our rights to some degree. I think government has accepted that litigation is not something that is scaleable or can be done on a massive scale. Our focus is very much on the education side of this and trying to steer people towards legal services.

“Were these previous actions by BPI quite rare?” – asks Billboard with a straight face. “We did it back in 2004, we didn’t bring a very large number of cases” says Taylor, adding:

“What that did do at the time was establish very clearly that file-sharing music without permission is illegal. That was an important marker to put down at that time and we believe it did have some effect on containing the growth of illegal file-sharing. But we quickly learned I think that it is not something that you can deploy on a scale that’s necessary to deter large numbers of people. We didn’t like the fact that we weren’t technically able to pick out repeat offenders, it was just not something we were able to see, and what this [Act] allows us to do at least is to target any litigation we might bring on people who have had multiple opportunities to avoid it.

“We just believe that education followed by technical measures is a better approach and that solving this at the level of the ISP’s account and the ISP’s relationship with the customer is a more proportionate and possibly more effective way of dealing with it.”

Stay tuned.