John Walker's Electronic House

CW 174

Copyright Watch 174

Now the BPI have begun their extortion tactics in the UK, John Walker applies his balanced reason to the situation.

As Copyright Watch warned you a few months ago, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has completed its first wave of doubtfully-legal actions against music sharing Brits.

Twenty three people have paid a total of £50,000 to the monolithic industry body for using peer-to-peer networks. The BPI triumphantly stated, “These settlements show we can and will enforce the law.” The question CW wants to ask the BPI is, which law exactly? The law that says you can’t share music files on the internet? Because so far as I’m aware, this so-called law has yet to be tested in a single court.

Yes indeed, mimicking their American big brother, the RIAA, the BPI used the same bullying and threatening tactics to ensure that none of these cases ever saw the inside of a court. All twenty three were settled outside, with each victim paying between £2000 and £5000. Ingeniusly, the BPI attempt to sell this as generosity on their part. “We have no desire to drag people through the courts. So we have attempted to reach fair settlements where we can,” said Geoff Taylor, BPI general counsel, putting a rather unique spin on the events. Translated, this means, “We’re very glad it didn’t go to court, as we’ve no idea what would have been ruled, and it could have gone horribly wrong for us.” These ‘laws’ the BPI are enforcing would start to look a bit more questionable in the face of a judge – as the RIAA learned last year when trying to shut down various P2P networks.

Nevermind that only months ago the BPI reported all-time record profits and a huge hike in CD sales, somehow it still remains necessary that they ruin individuals’ lives by taking amounts of money so massive to the victim, and so piffling to industry. Oh, and another thing: isn’t it the police who are meant to “enforce laws”? Or do the BPI believe that this is their job as well?