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BPI and six major broadband providers sign agreement
Thursday 24 July 2008 11:19:22 by Andrew Ferguson

Apparently it has taken the government to broker a deal between the BPI and six major broadband providers (BT Retail, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse). This initial memorandum of understanding (MOU) is not the final solution to combating copyright violations over internet connections, but a step towards what the BPI would like to see which is a stepped process where persistent violators could see their broadband contract cancelled. The six broadband providers who have signed up represent over 90% of UK broadband connections.

The full press release from the BPI can be read at www.bpi.co.uk. The government department involved in brokering the deal was the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the Motion Pictures Association of America has also signed the memorandum, along with the six providers named above.

"This MOU represents a significant step forward, in that all ISPs now recognise their responsibility to help deal with illegal file sharing.
...
BPI has always believed that a partnership approach is the best way forward, as we showed with our education campaign with Virgin Media, launched in May. This has demonstrated that ISPs and the music business can work together positively to raise awareness about illegal filesharing. And, working with government, we have been able to build on that progress and encourage other major ISPs to start taking a responsible approach.

In addition, the music business is constantly innovating to offer new, safe and legal ways to enjoy music online, and to create a future for digital music where creativity and copyright are respected. This MOU will help to create an environment in which such new digital services models can flourish."

BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor

So what does this agreement mean? It would seem that in the next year hundreds of thousands of informative letters will be sent out by ISPs to their customers in response to information provided by the BPI/MPAA where illegal activity has been identified. Remedies for repeat offenders have not been agreed as yet, but will be developed in conjunction with Ofcom. The solution preferred by the BPI is commonly known as the three-step procedure (often also referred to as 'three strikes').

It would seem no-one doubts that a large amount of music and film content is downloaded without a penny going to the rights holder. The BPI lists a figure of 150 million single track downloads sold in the UK since iTunes launched in 2004, but unlawful downloads topped this by a factor of 20 to one. It is impossible to know how accurate this figure is and there is very little published information on how many people have downloaded a track or two before buying a full album. This agreement is largely driven by the fact that while previous civil litigation has been successful, the costs of bringing masses of people to court would be enormous apart from in the most serious of cases not to mention the negative PR implications of such action.

A common issue raised by consumers is how accurate is the information provided to broadband providers. For the cable industry with the risk of cloned modems this may be a serious issue and for broadband providers using dynamic IP address assignment the accuracy of the BPI and broadband providers' clocks will be crucial. The BPI is confident that its information is accurate and suggests the same level of evidence collection will be used as as in previous court cases. Though if hundreds of thousands of letters go out, it would only take a couple of high profile errors to bring the system into disrepute and cause havoc for the scheme.

While the BPI is simply asking broadband providers to act as a conduit and pass on letters based on the BPI evidence, one can see broadband providers wanting to do their own checks to verify the allegations. At the end of the day the broadband providers currently look to be the ones that will lose business in an effort to reduce the losses in the media industry.

Will this memorandum have the effect the BPI wants? As always only time will tell, the most prolific offenders will simply change their tactics or move to providers that are not signed up and as there will always be new start-up broadband providers they are unlikely to run out of places to hide. A big risk is if the majority of people targeted are those that have downloaded just one or two tracks a year and take offence to a warning letter and reduce the amount of legal music they purchase, relying on free solutions like the TV and radio for their music.

Comments

Posted by keith_thfc over 8 years ago
"Remedies for repeat offenders have not been agreed as yet, but will be developed in conjunction with Ofcom."

If Ofcom have to get involved then file sharers need not worry - it will take them 6 years to lay down any regulations and even then they will probably be voluntary.

As for Tiscali/Orange/Talk Talk/VM/CPW sending out letters - that's rather like The Kray twins asking you to kindly obey the law....

Looks like O2/be* could be the only save haven left for the leeching brigade.........
Posted by sealion over 8 years ago
First PHORM and now this - this shows that BT have NO idea about valuing their customers. Are they trying to drive people away?

My contracts up in September, so I'm off.
Posted by Time over 8 years ago
Hehe, they will never learn. The majority of people stealing/downloading the 'media' do it because they can't afford to buy it, so attempting to stop them downloading isn't going to help sales one bit ;)

Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
Well I am still baffled as to why a minor issue such as copyright infringement is taking so much government time up. My points on this are, the evidence isps accept to send out these letter isnt sufficient enough, and I expect no increase in sales for legal music purchases, people often toss away what they download and are more likely to move to other forms of piracy instead of buying all that music.
Posted by herdwick over 8 years ago
"there is very little published information on how many people have downloaded a track or two before buying a full album" - that's because it makes no odds, if it's against the law to download a track the subsequent purchase does not change anything.
Posted by meldrew over 8 years ago
The BPI dinosaurs need to reconsider their business model. The music industry is the one that originated the term "rip off"! First their own artists then their customers. Music simply does not have the value that they think it does and digitally you can copy gigabytes from one person to another in seconds without downloading at all. Buy one CD share with 20 friends without going anywhere near the internet.

Excuse me while I go into the attic to remind myself of all tose tapes I made in the 60s!

Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
Time indeed, they acting as if piracy is some sort of new phenomenom when p2p was created but it has existed for decades.
Posted by radionotme over 8 years ago
""there is very little published information on how many people have downloaded a track or two before buying a full album" - that's because it makes no odds, if it's against the law to download a track the subsequent purchase does not change anything."
The point isn't the legality, it's how much this illegality is costing the music industry. If those two downloads are counted as lost sales, then the figures are wrong, because on the back of those two downloads, a whole album was purchased, including the two songs originally downloaded.
Posted by fiish over 8 years ago
We need to send the recording industry a message, by cutting down on or stopping purchases of recorded music. The artist gets only a miniscule cut of the price we pay anyway. Plus, the presence of illegal copies is driving the adoption of DRM-less legal music sales. The DRM will be back if p2p is eliminated, which is bad for consumers.

Switch to radio, free TV and free streaming services, and buy concert tickets instead. Help the artists, starve the industry.
Posted by wod1 over 8 years ago
well the people who like to download music, will just find ways around it, to share what they have.
Posted by paulbeattie87 over 8 years ago
It is my firm belief this can be solved by legal downloads being provided by the ISP in conjunction with say iTunes or Amazon for free. These tracks would also be DRM free. This gives the music/film industry a steady income stream.

The main issue is, music is disposable. A popular track today is just that, popular today. Next week its something different. Music is also too expensive, 79p for a song are they having a laugh.

For me they lost me as a customer a long time ago, Because of the BPI's never ending crusade I will never buy music again. Just ask 181.fm :-)
Posted by scragglymonk over 8 years ago
Get 99% of my music for free from jamendo.com, the odd track that I do download am unable to buy as they are online radio streams that some nice guy records to disk and then torrents.
This £30 per year fee, does it cover all music or just the ones that say EMI / HMV / Amazon have, just that not like what they have to offer

If unable to preview music before buying the CD's online, then will not be able to buy much in the way of CD's. Yet another customer lost...
Posted by barneydog over 8 years ago
why is p2p considered illegal when you can record all the tracks you want digitally via DAB Radio, it dont make sense. i think a large dose of common sense is required by all parties. if people are downloading and make money from it, i agree that is illegal, but, most people i know download to see if the track is worth a trip to the record shop. :)
Posted by keith_thfc over 8 years ago
"The main issue is, music is disposable. A popular track today is just that, popular today."

"It is my firm belief this can be solved by legal downloads being provided by the ISP in conjunction with say iTunes or Amazon for free."

@ paulbeattie87

Not everyone buys music just because its popular. I fail to see what this has to do with any of this anyway.

Any nothing is free - if the ISP's provide free music they will have to increase prices which isn't really how this industry works.
Posted by paulbeattie87 over 8 years ago
@keith_thfc

I do understand that some people like myself will buy music because I enjoy it. For the main part music is disposable and people will only listen to a track now for a short period of time.

The BPI talk about stealing music, they fail to mention how consumers nearly had music they legally purchased from MSN Music stolen away from them.

They also have failed to recognise DRM technology used in most legal music downloads today.

I also use Linux frequently, where do I go for legal music downloads? I have no option but to "steal" it.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
Play.com offers DRM free MP3 files and it seems cheaper than iTunes in some cases.
Posted by convertsurfer over 8 years ago
Like people have mentioned hoe reliable is the BPI evidence and how do they gather their evidence?
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
Of course, there will be the usual stupid bad evidence... but..

Note downloads also include video and programs...
- do a search on you tube for 'piracy +video' and you will find plenty of pro & anti views!
My point is that most of the prices are very high, depending on the newness & size of the company!!
A lot of GOOD companies usually will prove 'ancient' versions of its software for a fraction of the original price, but not the mega-large companies, it seems..
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago

Most of these companies seem to be very frightened of 'tactical discounting' and 'loss leaders' unlike many big supermarkets!!! - big stores like ASDA will REDUCE prices, because they know the customers will come in, and buy much more than just the cheap stuff...

It needs the over-rich movie companies to REDUCE their cut from movie sales, so the stores can then sell 'fist release' movies and CDs at a VERY small price, this will bring in much more customers!!!
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
The next BIG THING that the DVD producers can do...
- please REMOVE the stupid ads, antipiracy warnings, etc... WE KNOW THAT STUFF!!!
the simple want, to put in a DVD, and start watching the film straight away, is what is driving people to downloads and pirates!
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
Another thing that is very popular in japan, is very cheap, low quality version of films on SVCD!!
- this is just what you get when you download a film - low quality, bad dark scenes, bad highspeed scenes, only 720 lines if you are lucky, and often bad sound and framing, as no-one wants to download 5 Gbytes or more for just one 2 hour film...

If these could be sold alongside the full DVDs, for those that cannot afford the full quality films, I think it might just kill the pirates off!!
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
If I saw an official 'first release' movie for only £2 to buy, with the warnings that it is a 'SD budget (some scenes may lack quality) release' I would definately buy it, and if I found it a great movie, I would think of buying the 'full quality' version... :)

and yes, I am lucky to have seen a few 'absolutely awful' movies, even one that I stopped only 20 mins after the start! - another £20 saved...:(
Posted by Pigmaster over 8 years ago
So many points and so many ideas.

1) Even if they (BPI) etc do stop every single download they will then move onto the next thing to complain that that is spoiling their business model as they will still see music sales fall.

2) It has been shown that the evidence that they produce is inadequate and also inflammatory and sometime made up. I has been shown (Go Read http://torrentfreak.com) they can not produce accuatre records as proff of falling sales.

So who do people believe are telling the truth, to be truthful not many people and this is from both side of the music fence.

Posted by Pigmaster over 8 years ago
3) Not all file sharers are criminals, not all files that are shared are copyright thefts. There is alot of LEGAL files that go through p2p and this is growing, see how the BBCi player which travels via p2p is not branded at ILLEGAL
Posted by Pigmaster over 8 years ago
Comnut said"REMOVE the stupid ads, antipiracy warnings, etc... WE KNOW THAT STUFF!!!
the simple want, to put in a DVD, and start watching the film straight away"

Yes, I brought a DVD the other day only to have to sit through 15 minutes of Ads which I could not fast forward through.

So what did I do, I ripped the DVD, stripped out the crud and now have a DVD that plays the movie straight away. :-)
Posted by rian over 8 years ago
I agreed with what Pigmaster said. There are a lot of things in P2p are absolutely legal. Such as WOW, it does use P2P to deliver patch. Also, there are increasing amount of download software start using P2P technology. I am really how are they going to identify which file is legal or illegal.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
some good points made here, radionotme I agree entirely and I wouldnt be surprised if the sales would drop with the absence of p2p exposure, also the inconsistencies in the law. Recording of the radio is generally deemed no problem but its illegal like downloading a track of p2p. Same as recording mtv videos etc.
Posted by carrot63 over 8 years ago
In the end, home taping didn't kill music, but the mp3 seems to have put paid to the last ounce of common sense left in the debate.

This is a PR disaster waiting to happen for all parties, and I await the first story of a small firm put out of business by an incorrectly recorded IP or persistent teenager.

The appropriate place to deal with lawbreaking is in the courts.
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
you are wrong - music is still very much alive - Vinyl shops are actually selling more!!
-Cassette tape would have died, but for joggers, and those needing 'on the move' copies of their prized collections...

The record companies must cut THEIR paypacket, to allow shops to sell 'first releases' at a much lower price, and then the public will come back and spend...

or even use my 'two tier' idea as above..
- Cheap, budget quality (about twice MP3 quality) for those with low income.

- Full quality for those that like GOOD music.. I did not spend £3000 on my HIFI to play MP3s!! <yuck>
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