UK Copyright: Businesses > Citizens?

Last week Ofcom provided information about its proposed three-strike scheme for punishing those accused of copyright violation. This provision is baked into the DNA of the UK’s newly minted Digital Economy Act (DEA). Out of the information provided, we learn that business interests trump citizen interests in the provision of free and open wifi networks. In the case of businesses:

Where a Wi-Fi network is provided in conjunction with other goods or services to a customer, such as a coffee shop or a hotel, our presumption is that the provider is within the definition of internet service provider.

This can (and should) be juxtaposed against how an individual person/subscriber might experience the legal ramifications of providing an open Wi-Fi network:

We consider that a person or an undertaking receiving an internet access service for its own purposes is a subscriber, even if they also make access available to third parties … Those who wish to continue to enable others to access their service will need to consider whether [to] take steps to protect their networks against use for infringement, to avoid the consequences that may follow.

The ‘clear’ (read necessary, but absurd) response should be for most homes (let’s say any with Internet access) to immediately allocate some part of the house to a ‘service business’ and start up a family business. The services and goods provided can be minimal, and presumably few will actually take homes up on their offers, and by becoming businesses of some ilk that provide ‘free and open’ Internet the home’s occupants will be shielded from the threat of copyright infringement and digital excommunication. 

Hmm…perhaps the ‘more clear’ (read: what should be done, and thus is totally unrealistic) solution is to get rid of the DEA and re-write it using an evidence-based policymaking approach that draws on objective third-party studies. Of course, while asking for absurdities like evidence-based policy around copyright, I might as well also add to the list world peace and the end of human rights abuses…