By Paul Revoir and Michael Lea
Every household to pay £20 internet piracy tax as Government announces ‘broadband for all’ plan
Every home in the UK will have to pay an internet piracy tax as part of a new Government commitment to give every household broadband access by 2012.
Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report suggested scrapping BT’s obligation to provide fix line access and instead rolling out the new technology.
A so-called Universal Service Commitment would see everybody able to watch video online, including the BBC iPlayer, and put Britain at the vanguard of new internet technology.
The government also announced its plans to legislate around illegal internet file sharing, which would see online providers force to tell those breaking rules their conduct is unlawful.
Internet service providers will be required to collect information on serious repeat offenders and hand over details to music and film companies that own the content. They will then be subject to court orders.
As part of the clampdown the government will launch a rights agency to bring together figures in the industry to agree how to encourage and people to stop the practice.
The new rights agency would be funded via a levy – believed to be £20 – on internet service providers (ISPs) and the music and film industry.
Other conclusions could include a levy on broadband bills to compensate film and music companies for their losses from illegal downloads – which could a total of £1 billion over the next five years – and for Channel 4 to be pushed into a merger to ensure its future as a public service broadcaster.
Estimates suggest the cost of the universal broadband could run into hundreds of millions of pounds.
Under the Government’s universal service obligation, BT must provide fixed-line phone services and narrowband internet access to every household that wants them at a cost of up to £74million a year.
The Times reported that Lord Carter is to propose creating a body to mediate between internet service providers (ISPs) and music and film companies.
It would provide information about people who repeatedly infringe copyright by copying and sharing files, and be paid for by a levy on ISPs, the paper said. Such a charge could be passed on to broadband customers.
In a speech today in London, Gordon Brown said Lord Carter’s report ‘sets out the scale of our ambition to compete in the digital economy’.
‘We know that every aspect of our lives – every school, every hospital, every workplace and even every home – will depend on the services the digital network provides.