Lord Mandelson: ‘Cutting file-sharers’ connection is last resort’

Business Secretary speaks about illegal downloading

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has said that the UK government’s proposal to suspend the internet connections of persistent illegal downloaders is a “last resort”.

In a recent amendment to the Digital Britain report, the government outlined the proposal to punish persistent file-sharers by suspending their connections. Mandelson is believed to have personally intervened to push for harsher penalties.

Speaking today (September 24) during a trip to the Brit School in London, Mandelson claimed that such suspensions would be the last option taken against illegal downloaders. “We believe that temporary account suspension as a last resort in the most serious cases, is worth considering to allow these new business models to develop,” he said.

The plan to suspend accounts has been criticised by members of the Featured Artists Coalition, including Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien. “The industry is saying you get them to change their behaviour by threatening them,” the guitarist said. “We don’t think this is realistic. Hopefully we can educate them [music fans, about downloading].”

Mandelson and O’Brien did agree that illegal downloading was, on the whole, damaging to new bands. “Downloading somebody’s work without paying for it – whether it be music, film or computer games – is not a victimless act,” Mandelson said. “It poses a genuine threat to our creative industries and to the livelihoods of talented, hard-working people striving to get a foothold in them.”

He went on to admit that new legislation alone could not tackle the problem. “In the end this problem will be solved not simply by new laws but by new approaches to doing business,” he said.

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