Broadband

Will government crack downs on pirates stop file sharing on networks?

Can the governments latest initiative really stop illegal file-sharing across networks?

Back on the 12th of February The Times reported on a leaked ‘Green Paper' suggesting that Internet users suspected of downloading films or music will be penalised by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who would be legally obliged to take action against them. A "three-strike" system would mean that users suspected of accessing pirate material receive a warning by e-mail; if they continued to access illegal content then a second warning would be given--possibly in the form of a temporary suspension. If a user is caught a third time, they would be banned by the ISP and have their Internet connection completely cut off! With over six million Internet users in the UK thought to be downloading files illegally this is sure to be a big deal.Last week the department for culture, media and sport released this strategy document. Clearly this is the document leaked to The Times but it is not a ‘Green Paper' as previously suggested. A green paper is a consultation document that is seen as the first step in changing law. This strategy document titled, ‘Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy' is by no means as detailed or as well developed as a green paper, but it does show the government has changed its tone. In fact, Andy Burnham (British culture sectary) told the Financial Times, "Let me make it absolutely clear, this is a change of tone from the government." Both the U.S. and France are already implementing "three-strike" policies and the UK is thought to be under pressure to follow suit.

Chapter 5 of the strategy document focuses on ‘fostering and protecting intellectually property'. There are only two mentions of ISPs and piracy: "We believe that the integration of anti-piracy measures into a wider collaboration between content and network providers could create a healthier digital environment which would benefit consumers and creators. We are encouraged to see attempts at commercial solutions to the problems of piracy involving collaboration between rights holders and ISPs, and look forward to the further development of these types of solutions."

The document then goes on to warn that if the creation of voluntary scheme breaks down, the government is prepared to step in: "The Government recognises the value of the current discussions between internet service providers (ISPs) and rights-holders; we would encourage the adoption of voluntary or commercial agreements between the ISPs and all relevant sectors. While a voluntary industry agreement remains our preferred option, we have made clear that we will not hesitate to legislate in this area if required. To that end, we will consult on the form and content of regulatory arrangements in 2008 with a view to implementing legislation by April 2009."

It's thought that Britain's larger ISPs such as BT, Orange, Virgin Media, and Tiscali have been in talks with major studios and distribution companies for some time now, but there are major sticking points such as who will mediate disputes and who will foot the bill. These are the same issues that caused Tiscali and the BPI to drop a trial scheme that they ran last summer!

If an agreement can't be reached and legislation is pushed through, then failure to comply would see ISPs being prosecuted. One thing that's not clear is whether ISPs would share details of offenders with each other which would mean a ‘total ban'.

So how would the creative industries and ISPs work together to track down an illegal downloader? This news article on Yahoo suggests that rights holders would infiltrate BitTorrent swarms, collect the IP addresses of other users in that swarm, and then pass them on to the relevant ISPs. The ISP would then have to take action against the users associated with that IP at that time. To me this sounds rather simplistic and surely with the combination of encryption and anonymising techniques, Internet users will continue to exchange copyrighted material whatever efforts the ISPs make?

I'd be interested to hear readers' views on this topic-are file sharing applications already developing methods of evading detection? Do the media companies stand a chance? To those who have experience of similar schemes being implemented elsewhere, I would like to know whether it has been effective.

48 comments
harryxebec
harryxebec

The rule is, if you can read a 1 or 0, you can write it. That's it. The only way to beat piracy is on price. Legislation to combat software piracy is our government representatives representing the media moguls who, don't want a price war with pirates.

Jaytmoon
Jaytmoon

Not that I condone piracy but, whenever the US Government get involved in anything high tech (besides the pentagon), the project is 3 years late, over budget and obsolete by the time its implemneted. One thing you can count on with P2P coders is they are agile, fast to adapt and relentless when challanged. (It's a shame our politicians don't learn from that model) Bottom line, no it won't stop file sharing, it will make it harder for the fed.s to detect.

jackfred
jackfred

right now the fcc is after comcast for cutting back bandwidth,now this is one step toward telling you what you can so with the bandwidth that you pay for. How are they going to know what you are down loading,this is the a good start for our internet systems in the U.S to be more like China,and the Middle east.

FrankXchange
FrankXchange

It says a lot more about corporate control of the government's agenda that it does about the fair protection of copyright. I hold these things to be self-evident: 1) The financial losses accorded to piracy are extremely inflated. 2) Corporate control of copyright is anything but fair. The desire to charge again if the consumer transfers a movie, for instance, from one type of media to another is a case in point. 3) This has little to do with protecting the earnings of the artists themselves. 4) This is mostly about the desire to maintain the position of middle-man between artists and consumers, which is threatened by the ability of artists to sell directly to the consumer at a lower cost. 6) Historically, American businesses were some the worst abusers of copyright, until they themselves developed significant copyright holdings. What goes around.

boyetv_66
boyetv_66

Running after the ISP is a good thing. Because they provide the medium. Online storage providers should also be liable. That is where the pirated stuff stays. How they can get protect themself? Do not allow extremely large files (how many MBs does a full movie or album take?) Do not allow sequential archived files that would total to a huge file as well. It sounds crude but its a start. The more troublesome problem is how they get the pirated stuff off the street.

eric
eric

And if I leave now, they'll keep on being wrong! =E

hlhowell
hlhowell

Electronic transfers can be via "bots", located on poorly protected machines. This results in masking the ultimate user of the data, and worse pointing at someone totally innocent. Yes, I know that we are all supposed to protect our machines, but realistically how can that happen if the OS is vulnerable? And by the way, all the digits and numbers used for addressing can be spoofed by various methods, and used by unscrupulous sorts to do their worst. What happnes when a targeted ISP shows up with every or even many accounts compromised. Does he/she/they turn off their servers and sneak away into the night? Does the web close down when major parties are so affected? This proposal is from those who do not understand the limitations of technology in solving what is essentially a cultural problem. Basically it is beyond the capability of a reasonable solution, without disrupting the network for everyone. Moreover this is just FUD by the big broadcasters who want the only content on the net to be what they provide. Regards, Les H

DRMartin789
DRMartin789

The only times I've ever used BitTorrent is when I was downloading some open source software that had no other options. That's a completely legal and legitimate use for it. It is grossly wrong to crack down on BitTorrent and if they try to do that, there is other software out there (I don't recall the name of it offhand) that hides your IP address as well as encrypts the information. In fact, I know how to do that and thought about writing such software myself before somebody else did it. There is no way, short of installing some type of sniffer software on each of the intermediate servers that such software forwards the data through. Since, in such software, every client can also act as a server, that's nearly impossible. In some cases, depending on the cooperativeness of the people involved, it could require multiple search warrants in multiple countries and it would only catch a tiny fraction of users since each person's connection could take a different path through the intermediate nodes. And you can't ban the software because it's open source and there are thousands of copies all over the net and will probably eventually be millions of copies. Good luck governments!

mcwicken
mcwicken

No I think if they could not get the Drugs out of the USA they will not be able to do this either.. ITs the same way with guns.. Unless you have a police officer living on every block they will never be able to pull the guns off the street either, as Black Market will always be.. Then they just leave us all open for a hit and no defense.. In the long run it will be a waste of Tax payers money.. and a lot of it.. The money could be better spent helping our vets that defend our home front.. For the ones that use a illegal downloader is what maybe 3 to 7% of the ones that go out to pay for it.. They really don't loose enough money on the legal side to justify the loss of illegal downloaders.. Just my 2 cents.. I really wish our government would get smart and go after the wars they can win and quit spending our money on the ones they can't win..

TheGooch1
TheGooch1

1) I think you meant copyright violation. 2) File Sharing is not inherently illegal. It depends on the who, and the what, and the where. What is legal in Sweden may not be legal in the US, and this is way it should be, as sovereign nations have the right to rule themselves as they see fit. 3) Intellectual Property does not exist. You cannot own thoughts. Concepts such as algebra and the number 0 were thought of at the same time by different people in different countries. No one "owns" an idea. They can try to own it by keeping it to themselves, but once the cat is out of the bag, its out. Think Benjamin Franklin and his candlelight analogy when discussing copyright law. I can't wait for all of the Piracy and IP silliness to end.

Tearat
Tearat

incompetent business mangers Trying to keep the bottom line looking good Sales of music and other copyright media are dropping So the incompetent try to deflect attention somewhere else What the shareholders need to do is fire these idiots and get someone who can do the job

mail
mail

Ya but with the growning of seting up WIFI hotspots how do you control that. I have been in the prossess of seting up a few WIFI spots with 2hotspot.com were i can make some extra money. there is no way to monitor what others do from what i see. so i would get kicked if some one were to download pirated software when i had no idea.

kingkonglouie
kingkonglouie

Well, I received two warnings from my ISP "Optimium on line" and it scared the heck out of me. I will stop file sharing immediately. Domo Minn

Larry the Security Guy
Larry the Security Guy

I suspect that your ISP sent you the notices without clear evidence that the content was protected. If you did nothing wrong, carefully review the terms of your subscription to fully understand your remedies and the limits of their actions. Contact them and ask what they think was the illegal content. And keep asking until you get a straight answer. Vote with your wallet and switch to another provider. Of course, if you were downloading illegally you deserve to be scared and should have stopped long befor the first notice. I have no sympathy for anyone who steals.

Rioch
Rioch

This idea has as much chance of success as Prohibition in the USA; those intent on copying will find ways around the system - always. I don't know the legal situation on data privacy in the UK but I cannot imagine that it permits reading every electronic communication. This is the equivalent of having the Post Office open every letter and parcel to check for the presence of an illegal copy of a CD or DVD. In the interests of equality, the ISPs should insist that the same rules apply to the Post Office! Like the retention of telephone records, this is an example of applying criminal standards to the whole population in case some should break the law later. We (the democratic nations) are moving from the philosophy that 'What is not forbidden by law, is permitted' to 'What is not permitted by law, is forbidden'. Stop this nonsense before it goes too far.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

'What is not forbidden by law, is permitted' to 'What is not permitted by law, is forbidden.' I like it.

eric
eric

Anything not mandatory is forbidden.

rkell25
rkell25

The fact of the matter is that if you take films, theyre all of a poor standard.Any films released or music thats positively backed by the big studios/record companies are mostly written by comittee to to target as many sectors of the population as possible, To try and make the most cash. A media hyped lineup of awful people like Tom Cruise, Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears are all that the big companies want to support. People/ideas who have something to offer and are original are never heard from.If you look at films, how many re-makes have come out in the past 5 years? And how many have actually been any good? So why would you risk shelling out hard cash for stuff that probably wont be any good.I can sympathise with the downloaders, I used to download but I found most contained viruses/malware so I gave up. Also downloading is a way for people to get into new genres etc without being put off by having to buy something they only want to try out.

jon-paul_fegan
jon-paul_fegan

So i just use my wireless laptop to download whatever i want on other peoples internet connection and i don't have to worry about getting banned myself.

shryko
shryko

don't get caught responcible for someone else's actions... due diligence must be followed :P

karenc
karenc

I'm against the idea and I'm going to write to my MP and tell him, I urge everyone else to do the same, otherwise the politicians will continue listening to the loudest voice (currently the entertainment industry) and the legislation will go ahead, the ISP's will have no choice in the matter but to comply consider the following points I don't share files illegally and I assume you guys reading this don't either, therefore we are not the problem and the problem is not ours illegal file sharing breaches existing copyright laws under which, the entertainment industry for one, has successfully prosecuted many times, so there is a working solution in place making the ISP liable for content is unworkable in practice and would result in an arms race, with the ISP's putting measures in place that are immediately countered and bypassed with multiple levels of encryption, compression and addition to innocuous and entirely legal downloads to mention just a few measures from the arsenal available but the ISP will have to fund these measures somehow so the charges to the end user, us, will go up, further it is likely that these measures will slow down our internet connection as every packet gets inspected for illegal content so this legislation makes illegal file sharing our problem by punishing us with a, possibly, slower connection and a definitely higher price despite the fact that we are entirely innocent of anything illegal and the problem not being ours further whats to stop you anonymously performing illegal downloads and uploads, go to a hotspot and connect via wifi, the hotspot will get the warnings and eventually close, so broadband in the UK goes back to the stone age ... and we've only just made it to the iron age too it's a legal matter and it's handled by existing laws, so let the courts handle it as at the moment the accusing party actually has to prove to the satisfaction of a court that illegal activity has taken place this legislation changes that, the accuser tells the ISP to punish the end user based on evidence that never goes to a courtroom, it bypasses the law you could be banned for life from the internet based on nothing more than a suspicion and there doesn't seem to be a way to appeal these decisions via the courts so to recap - there's an existing working solution for the problem - the problem doesn't affect us - the proposed legislation is ineffectual and punishes the innocent - why should we pay through the nose and suffer possible degradation of service because of legislation that makes this our problem

shryko
shryko

file sharing is completely avoided by laws. the government avoids it, when possible. really, to get sued, you'd need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the person was responcible, while not violating their privacy, and generally, the ISPs don't give out any details on their customers... so, you won't really get the details you'd need to prove the person did it... Canada is about dozen years behind the mark on a lot of things... but we're at least behind due to beaurocratic infighting, as opposed to having taken steps in the wrong direction (mostly)

A.Safaya
A.Safaya

Ok first of all according to the above article , i am a pirate and possibly will be banned from internet in future ! The world has far many issues which are of much more serious content than " illegal downloading " . Its the greedy entertainment industry who wants more and more money behinf all this. Go to poor nations and donate some there , tackle the so called " global warming " , fight terrorism OR AT LEAST make decent enough movies that we go to cinemas to watch ! Politics never stops to amuse me .... if they ban all of the ppl who illegaly download then I AM SURE the ISP will be shutting down faster and ISP will lose money for sure! Why should the entertainment industry have more money ?? to make more britney's , hiltons, winehouses ! All they say is that " we losing billions due to piracy " OKAY FINE I AGREE BUT BUT BUT i ask how much billions you guys make ?? so from 50 billions , if u lost 2 billion ....is it that big a deal ?? MONEY SPEAKS..... MONEY SPEAKS..... P.S- i say let the ban thing come , we will find a way to tackle it . There is always a way ....

Mark.Moran
Mark.Moran

Have you ever heard such nonsense? 1) ISP's can't afford to loose vast sawthes of their customers 2) BitTorrent is easy to encrypt (SSL VPN Anyone?) 3) Even if they could track and trace, how long do you think it would be until the file sharing community invented a new system they got round this? ..and finally the really killer... 4) This announcement comes from an utterly inept govenment who whilst promising lots have delivered very little (anyone remember the much vaunted 10 year transport plan?). I dont see this announcement as any exception really. Just more hot air to placate the RIAA probably

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Brainless and Labour not required. Unless of course you are attempting the imply the other parties have brains...... Which would cast serious doubt on your own personal intellectual capacity.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

Political Parties are the same where ever, and its not just us...

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

After all, if they end up having to fire 1/3rd of their customers, they'd go out of business.

jnenadal
jnenadal

I have a friend who got a note from his ISP regarding a filesharing complaint. ISPs get emails and complaints from companies all the time that work for the proprieters of these illegally shared files. Im not sure exactly how they get the IPs from the offenders, but Im pretty sure they infiltrate the swarm and report to the ISP that this address was illegally sharing a file. They even provide the protocol type and the tracker url if it is a torrent. Even Limewire users get copyright infringement complaints and the complaint will tell you you used limewire to get the file if that is the case. Some ISPs will contact the end user by email and/or phone to let them know about the issue. In fact, if the customer does not respond to messages left or is unable to be contacted, some ISPs will disconnect their service at least until they call in. Another interesting fact is that some ISPs will actually use the same procedure if they find out your computer has a virus that is sending out unusual traffic.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

A year ago I got a nice little e-mail from my ISP, telling me that they had been alerted by a "copyright holder" that I had downloaded a movie and violated the DMCA. The note included the name of the film, date, time, and IP address. The only problem was that I had never downloaded a movie, or have even used BitTorrent. The IP address included was not mine, but for a node 1500 miles away. Turns out that my Comcast's customer database is screwed up and frequently thinks I?m a subscriber in Utah. I wrote back to their legal department telling them that I considered their providing such obviously erroneous information about me both a violation of their own ?privacy policy?, and also slanderous, and that should anything come of this, that I?d be suing for damages. I have yet to hear back from them on this.

shryko
shryko

provide enough legal p2p stuff, and enough legal downloading, that they would get enough false positives. if they spend for the more sophisticated stuff, to weed out the false positives, well, they better be getting enough money, or they'd lose the customers that they had for economic reasons... gotta love these gotchas :P

normhaga
normhaga

I live a little more than a mile from central Salt Lake City. All of the primary business district has free public wireless. So, I sit at home and slightly modify a Dish TV or Direct TV antennae I have around and then use it to access the public network from the comfort of my home. When this fails, I replace the modified antennae element with a bi-directional LBA and access the satellite network.

eric
eric

Corporate content owners will continue to hit end users as long as it pays them to do so, just as ASCAP has done with bars & restaurants that play music or TV. Intelligent/hip producers will offer content at no charge, but also offer added value (liner notes, a pretty box, an authorized hard copy, etc.) at a price, and do concerts and readings as well. See www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kelly08/kelly08_index.html. TV has always been free so that the viewer's attention can be sold to the advertiser. Many stations now offer free downloads. This will continue. As long as most of the culture wants corporate pop and pablum they will be charged for it, and the rest of us will be penalized by their bad taste and the company they keep. We will find other ways. Info wants to be free and want to be expensive, both. Finding the balance is tricky, and for some, painful.

Tearat
Tearat

There was piracy before the Internet All that will happen is people will find a way around it or they will go back to the older methods Before anyone calls me a pirate or something else I really don?t care if the music or movie copyright holders succeed or not I buy my music I buy my Dvd?s I don?t care if they disappeared tomorrow (the disks or the company?s) Music is nice but life will go on without it Same with the Movies or Films They lost my interest when it stopped being art and became all about the money Besides I find the stuff on TV much more entertaining now Free or pay TV no dif

silversidhe
silversidhe

To spy on everyone - they already have huge databases of collected info on the population. From this they try to extrapolate if you are a political danger to them (do you vote incorrectly?) and are you likely to be against the ever increasing attack on civil liberties. Watch out - all of these forums are googlable.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

So what does that mean? You haven't listened to music nor watched a film in over 100 years? To think they (that is, the music/film industries and distribution thereof) were ever anything else is fanciful.

Tearat
Tearat

1908 didn?t know they had commercial music back then When you disagree with someone don?t contradict yourself I wrote They lost my interest when it stopped being art and became all about the money (Like you didn?t know what I meant) You wrote To think they (that is, the music/film industries and distribution thereof) were ever anything else is fanciful. You disagree but you don?t or is it just some part that you disagree on Guess you forgot about fame and bragging rights To think the music and film industries are only interested in money is just plain dreaming

Tearat
Tearat

I was wondering what would be next So you give up Your statements were a joke thanks for the laughs Your first post was ridiculous and off the topic I don?t know what axe you have to grind against the music and or film industry But I can guess you had to have your say no matter what It only takes the smallest comment to set some of you loony?s off Next time stick to the topic Don?t expect to be taken seriously with the name canIberichnowplease? Just take it as a given Money is not the sole reason for the existence of business Wow I must have exaggerated when I wrote ?all about the money? I have little interest in the history of COMMERCIAL music by the way Look it up if you don?t know what if means (Wonder if the other loon?s will be able to leave that alone)

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

You're an idiot. Explanations would be meaningless, no matter their simplicity or complexity.

Tearat
Tearat

Thousands of years What were they trading sticks, rocks, skin drums Guess you didn?t get the bragging rights bit So do you agree or disagree with my original statement still not sure Her it is again They lost my interest when it stopped being art and became all about the money Damn shame I was talking about the industries in general Not just the businessmen Do you know what art is? It may be best if you keep it simple and stop the exaggerations

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

[i]1908 didn?t know they had commercial music back then[/i] W H A T ???? It's been around for thousands of years, and certainly has been thriving in western cultures since the renaissance. Very commercial: managers ripping off artists, people stealing other people's copyright, groups taking music and not paying royalties, everything that happens today just in different modes and media. There are certainly musicians and film-makers that do it for the love and are not all that interested in money. With you completely. The film and music [i]industries[/i], however, are guided by one thing only.

Tearat
Tearat

As in obsessed with money There has always been the drive to make money Now it is an obsession Profit is only part of the equation of a successful enterprise

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

The copyright holders will not succeed of course. Too many ways to get around it and hide the files. What will keep it in check is bandwidth limitations. ISPs will find it necessary to throttle the people leaving their bittorent servers on 24 hours a day. I don't care if people share movies. I don't give a Gambian Pouch Rat's A** if they swap their pirated videos. I'm not the copyright holder. I do care if they do it over my shared cable segment, and the fact that they are illegal movies and the only reason they are doing it over my shared broadband vs a real server on a high speed connection directly connected to internet backbones is that they are illegal copies and can't be put on such servers. This will go away somewhat when everyone has high speed conx that are not shared. However the aggregation of these links inside the ISPs will still be affected and people who are downloading legal video to watch will still be affected so I'd hazard that ISPs will still throttle them at that point tho not as much.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Just share as must legal content as you can. Wait for the false positives.....

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

I download at least one Linux Distro a week with Bit torrent, and seed for the week as well? Or grab off of librivox and guttenburg and then post them to the p2p sites? In a sense its like the opposite of the torrent "poisoning" the RIAA is attempting (through autorized proxy companies of course). By increasing the volume of legit traffic, the cost of sorting out illegal traffic goes through the roof...

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

But when I am, I share, a lot of open source stuff, useful freeware. Public documents.... A lot of bands distribute their music on P2P, home movies, some of them might raise an eyebrow (at least :D ). I'll put money on them going for filenames first anyway. Shoot a two hour movie of your mutts running by a lake, call it reservoir dogs and wait for the nasty letter.

shryko
shryko

I use spam traps on sites I build, I have a honey pot setup on my test machine (whenever it's online)... If they want to fight, we can fight too... we'll just be passive aggressive, do nothing wrong, and let market forces do their work :P it's all economics. if the ISPs can't foot the bill, the recording industry would have to, if they really want it to happen. Otherwise, we take a class action lawsuit, since our LEGAL activity was cut. oh, I love it when things back fire on people that are somewhat being jerks about it all.

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