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Under the terms of the mooted legislation illegal downloaders will be disconnected or will have their connections dramatically slowed down, after some harum scarum postal warnings. The miscreants involved are to be identified by their IP addresses.

You don’t need to be an Aleks Korotskir-style web authority to see the pitfalls in this. Not least of them is the unreliability of IP addresses to pick out wrong-doers.

Not unreasonably, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) is more than a little worried at the prospect of the forthcoming rulings. As it stands, hoteliers are to be responsible for providing guest details to the government and issuing the offenders with a copyright report.

Bedroom Surfing

In a statement issued today, the organisation points out that the very nature of hotels and their iterant populations means that they’re on an especially sticky wicket. Along the way, they also make it crystal clear once again to anyone with a brain just how unworkable the government’s measures are.

The BHA explains: “[Our] first concern is that whilst it is relatively easy to identify wired users, wireless users can be significantly more difficult and those using a prepaid card will be impossible to identify.

“In addition, the copyright infringement notices will usually be received about two or three days after the alleged incident occurs. In a hotel environment this means the guest is highly likely to have checked out by the time the notification is received.”

The recent court case that saw a publican fined an eye-watering £8,000 after a customer nabbed content illegally indicates the nation’s B&B owners and hoteliers are right to be concerned. A fine of that magnitude would put pressure on most small businesses. And that’s all they need in this economic climate.

There’s more than a hint of irony that the file sharing rules should impact on business so hard. After all isn’t the wider schema of Digital Britain and the provision of universal broadband about helping UK enterprises - rather than running them out of business?

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