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Music industry sees hope against piracy
Monday 09 July 2007 21:36:48 by John Hunt

A Belgian court decision may help set a precedent in Europe over illegal file-sharing, as it orders Belgium's third largest ISP to filter copyright infringing material.

Scarlet, formerly part of Tiscali, was hit by the decision on June 29th in the case brought by the Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers (SABAM). Expert opinion was sought in 2004 as the court was not sufficiently informed about the technical feasibility of how to put an end to the infringements by Tiscali/Scarlet customers. The expert recommended 11 solutions, 7 of which were suitably applicable to Tiscali/Scarlet. The court granted a six month period to implement a solution that would block or filter the copyright infringing material, with fines if they do not meet this schedule. Tiscali/Scarlet said it may appeal the ruling.

The SABAM press release in relation to the Tiscali/Scarlet case is available here (PDF).

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) warmly welcomed the decision.

"This is an extremely significant ruling which bears out exactly what we have been saying for the last two years - that the internet's gatekeepers, the ISPs, have a responsibility to help control copyright-infringing traffic on their networks. The court has confirmed that the ISPs have both a legal responsibility and the technical means to tackle piracy. This is a decision that we hope will set the mould for government policy and for courts in other countries in Europe and around the world."

John Kennedy, IFPI Chairman and CEO

The IFPI estimates that around 20 billion illegal files were shared on P2P networks in 2006 which outnumbered legal music downloads by a factor of 20. This news comes as music sales are at the lowest recorded since records began, with CD sales in the US down 20% in the first half of this year. The move to digital downloads only partially offsets the decline.

Other industry members are taking action into their own hands. AT&T Inc., the largest communications company in the United States, announced in June that it was working with Hollywood studios and recording companies to develop anti-piracy technology to keep pirated material off its network. AT&T is the largest major Internet carrier to announce such plans.

David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party, recently addressed the British Phonographic Industry. In his speech, he claimed that Internet Service Providers are the "gatekeepers of the Internet" and should be doing more to help prevent illegal music downloads, acting with a similar stance to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The IWF works in partnership with the Government and Industry to minimise the availability of child abuse images, criminally obscene and incitement to racial hatred content. ISPA, the Internet Service Providers Association which represents ISPs in the UK, believes that this should be handled by the courts and told The Register it would be writing to the Conservative leader to set out its position.

The 2002 E-Commerce Regulations state that ISPs are 'mere conduits' of information and should bear no liability for illegal file sharing that is not hosted on its servers. If the Conservatives want to hold a stance that the ISPs should block all this material, then a similar analogy to this would be to hold the Highways Agency responsible for filtering or blocking all illegal goods that are transported over their roads.

We are interested in your views about whether ISPs should bare the expense and be forced to block illegal file sharing. Let us know by clicking 'comments' below.


Posted by radiomarko over 9 years ago
Certainly not, its the thin end of a very thick wedge. Before we know it certain sites and domains will be blocked, then points of view.
Posted by copex over 9 years ago
censorship of the internet, no matter what they do someone will find a way around it...
Posted by dopamine2 over 9 years ago
Definitely not. Many ISPs already look for ways to reduce bandwidth consumption, and this would give them a great excuse to throttle and/or block many other uses of the internet too.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
LOL yet another example of Law being behind the times with technology... quote "... as it orders Belgium's third largest ISP to filter copyright infringing material." Yeah thats gonna work... Are they gonna block the whole of Youtube, I wonder??? hillarious
quote "The expert recommended 11 solutions, 7 of which were suitably applicable to Tiscali/Scarlet." Sounds like their expert was Elmer Fudd!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
You cant stop downloading of copyright material not even if you order an ISP to filter it.Whats an ISP gonna do to stop downloads of it...Block every single FTP, news-server, IRC room and P2P based technology world wide?? Wouldnt leave much of the so called internet would it LOL.This is yet another clueless decision by old codgers in grey wigs and idiots in suits that have no clue on how technology works.Copyright theft may be a bad thing, but the only way you could completely cure it is to stop the internet worldwide and a few fools in suits from a record industry wont be able to do that.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
ISPs could do what large companies, Saudi Arabia etc do - have a white list of acceptable sites. No customer would get traffic to/from an address not on the list. Hardly rocket science.
Posted by irrelevant over 9 years ago
Even limiting sites to a whitelist isn't foolproof. Go to any reputable site with a comments, guestbook, or similar feature. Copy-pasting in any text from somewhere else, from a newspaper or magazine, and bingo, that's technically a copyright infringement and the ISP in this case is liable..

Making the ISPs resposible is completely unworkable, and is tackling the wrong people. Any ISP that tries a level of filtering that would be even slightly effective would lose customers hand over fist.
Posted by irrelevant over 9 years ago
I'm leaving out the specialist ISPs that offer filtered net access to schools, etc. (My lad constantly complains that he can't get on YouTube from school!) They have their niche market, and for that market alone, it works. Mostly - the kids constantly find out ways around the filters, from the forums I've seen!
Posted by shaunhw over 9 years ago
We don't want this, and neither will the politicians when they realise how (un)popular it makes them with the public, even if they court popularity with music companies, it is US who pay for politicians and their far too expensive salaries.

People who illegally share files should be the one who are dealt with, not ISPs who should not act as censors.
Posted by imbsuk over 9 years ago
Most people are reduced to popular opinion through ignorance: 'all file sharing bad'. I download music, and have just purchased 17 CDs from Amazon - the two of which apparently don't go hand in hand. I'd say the mainstream music industry has a moral case to answer too, reducing music to SOLELY money and profit. It shows Cameron and the Conservative party in their true light as they are evidently pandering to them.

I'd be interested to hear what these supposedly feasible solutions are.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
The article asks if the ISP should bear the cost of this, is it possible that the reduced bandwidth demand would make savings sufficient to justify the action anyway ? I assume this is the logic that leads some ISPs to throttle P2P traffic, and a block is just a throttle set to zero.
Posted by carrot63 over 9 years ago
Camerons pretty little soundbite may be headline grabbing, but it is as poorly informed at a practical level as John Reids stance that paedophiles should register their email addresses to prevent child abuse. Plenty of P2P traffic is already disguised as something else to get round throttling and ways will always be found to circumvent any ISP policing.

Pricing music in a way that better reflects its actual value would be a better bet.
Posted by haydnwalker over 9 years ago
ISPs can't be the censors of the Internet - the Internet is a global beast and as such nobody (apart from possibly a united conglomerate of ALL the worlds ISPs) can be held responsible for the traffic. Yes an ISP is responsible for the traffic on ITS network but only to a point. The cost in this would be massive and most likely stop the growing take-up of broadband - especially in the UK as most people seem to be totally against this! (1/2)
Posted by haydnwalker over 9 years ago
Filesharing in itself isnt bad, just the illegal uses people put it to. In the end thats for the Police in conjunction with other agencies and the CO-OPERATION of the ISPs to sort out the people that use it to pirate DVDs (in some cases make alot of money from it)! Music is way overpriced and I definitely dont buy any anymore (but nor do I download it from the Internet illegally) What's wrong with the Radio? People used to tape from the radio to cassettes and THAT was illegal - nobody as far as Im aware (and Im only 24 so Im not saying its NEVER happened) ever got arrested for it though.(2/2)
Posted by Sam_ over 9 years ago
I wonder how much money the BPI, or any media companies, have donated to the Conservatives? ISPs should never have to bear the costs of blocking IP, it's not their fault that the media dinosaurs can't keep up with the times.
Posted by freddibney over 9 years ago
ISPs should be considered as a carrier along with the post office and telecoms companies.
If you attempt to get ISPs to filter material dependent on content then realistically you need to apply the same criteria to other media types and allow them to read all your mail or eavesdrop all telephone conversations.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Its totally impossible to block every violation of copyright.This site would probably have to be blocked according to the letter of the law, im sure in news stories and forum posts information from documentation elsewhere has been cut and pasted more than on the odd occasion.These industry half wits that bang on about the law dont care about law at all.All they care about is profits,they dont give a toss about copyright if someone made a famous authors book available for download in pdf format would they care? NO, its all about their precious music and billions of profit. They are hypocrites.
Posted by Attitude over 9 years ago
The question has been asked on David Camerons own weblog as to what the BPI has donated to the conservative party funds for him to back such an idiotic plan. Tory MP's were given tickets to the last Brits Music awards by the BPI and now suddenly we see the tory leader agreeing with the BPI's plans. As of yet he has yet to answer the question and i can't see him doing so either. If you read his comments he more or less lumps all downloaders in the same group as terrorists, child killers and criminal gangs.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Well if that is true Attitude lets hope the halfwit is not our next prime minister. Christ knows the country has been balls up enough by Braindead Blair already, without some opposition leader carrying on where he left off (censor that you government you fools ;) )
What really rags my backside is when people like the BPI say piracy funds terrorism. If thats true i wonder what it funded back in the 80s and 90s...... Acid partys probably in their opinion. Well all know Piracy is bad for the industry so why they have to come up will rubbish like that is a mystery.
Posted by scragglymonk over 9 years ago
tend to download music to see if it is any good and then wipe that which is not, has put me onto some bands that would not have bought otherwise, grabbed the odd film to see the same sort of thing
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
scragglymonk you do realise from doing that the likes of the BPI think you are either a terrorist, drug baron or anything else evil and nasty they can dream up LOL They really need to wake up and realise not everyone that downloads from the internet is some villian out for world domination. Also if these organisations didnt put all that 5 minutes worth of this is copyright blah blah BS, piracy is a crime blah blah tripe at the beginning of every dvd i buy (which to make it worse you cant fast forward) then maybe others and i wouldnt copy it to rip that and all the other tosh out.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 9 years ago
The IWF work against child pornography. Trying to equate civil copyright violations to the criminal action of viewing child pornography can only weaken the entirely legitimate role of the IWF.

Anyway, the music industry is apparently determined to undermine the entire foundation of the internet. I've had far too much experience of "zero time packet inspection" which makes games unplayable.

I cannot, at this time, see myself buying a piece of music again. A few decades after they back down, perhaps. Even a blanket liscence at this point wouldn't get me to listen.
Posted by Bones5HH over 9 years ago
Why is it only Tiscali that is ordered to do this, what about all the other ISP's that people use & download copyright material through? Its a bit unfair to force them to do it within 6 months & not get the other ISP's to follow suit. Like people say, there will always be a way round the filters, etc.
Posted by airds over 9 years ago
Maybe declining sales (is it units or value?)are a reflection on the quality of new music? How many new songs do you hear nowadays and think 'I must get that?'

I wouldn't be upset to never buy another piece of music again - got more than plenty with 35 years worth of it here .... on record, CD and MP3 formats. 79p a bare track from iTunes - no thanks.

See Tom Robinson's thoughts on the music industry here Fat Cat Jukebox

Posted by smacduff over 9 years ago
To the contrary, ISP's should not be allowed to block, filter or throttle any traffic. It's the end of the internet as a free media when they do. It's time they had term of reference from Ofcom to keep enough headroom on their networks to give customers what they pay for too.
Posted by grahammm over 9 years ago
Apart from anything else how is an ISP going to tell the difference between a download which is authorised by the copyright owner (and is therefore legal) and one which is not?
Posted by mark1832 over 9 years ago
Just one way to stop piracy.

Sell dvds and cd albums at £ 5 and a single song for £1.

Who is going to wait 3 days to download a movie now?
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
It would put a dent in piracy but it wouldnt boost sales, sales are dropping because the quality of music is dropping and prices refuse to drop. If anything it will create hatred to the music industry and give people a reason to not buy music.
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