Ofcom has outlined proposals to restrict the fingers of those who infringe copyright by downloading music and films on the internet. Finger clamping already has the backing of music and entertainment companies.
The pirates will be visited by Copyright Inforcement Officers who will place their fingers into yellow Digital Digit Restriction Devices, limiting their ability to type or operate a computer mouse. It is believed the thumb will be given limited movement in order for them to use rudimentary items like cutlery or toilet flushes.
“Some people will feel this response is too extreme,” explains Ofcom chairman Chester Allen, “but we’ve stopped short of actually cutting off their fingers, which would have been our preferred option.”
“We weighed up a lot of options,” argues Helen Sturgeon of the Federation Against Copyright Theft, “but compared to limiting internet access or sending warning letters we felt that some form of medieval-style torture was the way to go.”
Gill Puttock, of advocacy body Freeloaders, says she is concerned that clamping is unnecessarily harsh: “If someone has managed to downloaded an illegal copy of The Tooth Fairy starring The Rock and watched it all the way through, then you could argue they have already been sufficiently punished.”
Technology blogger Adam Petrie believes the new clamping system is doomed to failure. He says: “Hardcore infringers will already be planning to migrate activity from their hands to their feet. While the entertainment industry is saying the gloves are now off, the pirates are responding with, so are our socks.”
Sturgeon adds, “Entertainment bosses are lobbying the government to go further. In the future, those downloading music or films illegally could face ear stapling or eyelash gluing, and those downloading pornography could face being cut off altogether.”