Skip Navigation

Digital Britain report may slow down illegal file sharers
Friday 05 June 2009 14:54:17 by John Hunt

The government may have rejected calls from the creative industries to force ISPs to disconnect uses caught sharing illegal material. The Digital Britain report from Lord Carter, due to be released on the 16th of June, was expected to back the film and music industries desire of a "three strikes and your out" policy, but Andy Burnham, culture secretary, has confirmed that cutting people off is not the government's preferred option, but it instead favours technical solutions.

"The Digital Britain report coming out soon will build on last year's Memorandum of Understanding between content holders and ISPs to tackle illegal file sharing. It is likely to include an obligation on ISPs to send out letters to people who are infringing copyright.

"What Mr Burnham also said was there was the likelihood that the MoU would be backed up by new powers for Ofcom to impose 'technical solutions' for repeat offenders if that process of sending out letters was not effective enough."

Spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport

The MoU referenced is an understanding between the British Recorded Music Industry and the six largest broadband providers in the UK to send out letters to customers of the ISPs where illegal activity has been identified. No remedy for repeat offenders had been established when the MoU was signed.

This new proposal may mean Ofcom will force providers to implement traffic management to slow down the connections of offenders, or possibly even limit what they can actually access. Whilst many of the larger providers already implement traffic management to ensure that a small number of users cannot degrade the service of everyone else, some smaller service providers pride themselves on offering an unlimited connection without traffic shaping. These smaller providers may have to rethink their product offerings if they are forced to purchase expensive deep packet inspection hardware without some kind of subsidy from the creative industries who are set to gain the most from this.


Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
More big bro polices that I doubt will come into play. When will they learn? - "Where there's a will there's a way" you won't ever beat piracy. The main way to combat this is to make their own prices so attractive these people might as well buy the real thing.
Posted by mikeblogs over 7 years ago
The EU Telecoms Package was pushed to a 3rd reading on May 6th, as campaigners fought 3-strikes, (Hadopi or the Carlo Bruni clauses)

The technical measures could be a generic p2p is bad, knobble it how you like to protect your networks and keep your services affordable - a slippery slope. It would be non-discrimatory in so far as it discriminates against everyone equally.
Posted by Capn over 7 years ago
All the MoU did was show people that these ISPs are not to be trusted with your details as your privacy means nothing to them.

You'd think the government would want to do something to restore the publics faith in them after all thats happened.
Posted by Rroff over 7 years ago
We are still atleast 10 years from a point where automated systems can disciminate effectively legit from potentially copyright infinging materal without an unacceptable level of false positives.

Another typical report from people obviously lacking any clear insight into either the problem or the technology.

There are many many valid, legal, uses of P2P type technology, blanket banning torrents would just shift the goal posts and in the mean time inconvenience millions of perfectly "law abiding" citizens.
Posted by scootie over 7 years ago
if they used DPI to just slow P2P protocals down to the point it makes downloading a copyrigted file anoying to crub a users addiction to ilegal music and movies this would be the death nail for isp's.
as plusnet use dpi and to restrict the impact of p2p at peak times yet they cant get sig for spotify because spotify is encptyed p2p traffic and there traffic mangment supplers arbor are not quick with coming up with one resulting in skippy streaming at peak times
Posted by badger90 over 7 years ago
The problem we have here is that the first time this happens to someone who hasnt done anything dodgy, and it goes to court, is the time this has to stop.
Thanks to digital technology we now have a system where once a record/film/book etc is made it can been reprocuced,electronically,at almost no extra cost.
For me the way around this is the idea that you pay extra on your account e.g. £10pm and you can get what you want to say 50gb. The only issue i can see is how distribute the funds amonngst the artists
Posted by Gzero over 7 years ago
Please, don't talk about paying a copyright tax, that would real theft and you know it. You already get realistic models for paying monthly for copyrighted material, one example would be lovefilm.

You can't curb piracy through draconian laws. Nice to see the government protecting those who shout the loudest (with money and false projection figures).
Posted by whatever2 over 7 years ago
"Thanks to digital technology we now have a system where once a record/film/book etc is made it can been reprocuced,electronically,at almost no extra cost."

Yep, which is why the media industry loves digital media... and why people cannot understand why the piracy delivery outperforms legal commercial download opportunities, even before discussing price.
Posted by Aqualung over 7 years ago
The creative industries will gain nothing...

They already have in place quite strict laws on copyright etc lets see them use them seen as they are so sure they can identify people.

DPI doesnt work properly and ends up borking all users at some time or other,but these are suggestions from people who have absolutely no understanding of how computing works and just pluck hair brained ideas out of thin air.

Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
I think this is just a 'blind' to cover up the fact that everyone is gonna be throttled and capped, because the infrastructure can't cope with these downloads govt are backing the media in piracy clampdown. It is all a cover up. The copper can't cope with it. The copper is great for surfing and emails. It falls over when people start using it for films, vids and songs. So lets ban them. ya great. Lets make time stand still for UKplc.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Whats your obsession with copper? Copper can cope! Copper your house to the exchange? - Well that's getting past its sell by, but copper from your home to the cab has loads of life, replace it with better copper... even longer. Copper is in every network all over the world so I'm not sure what your on about really.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
Sorry but replace it with better copper? That's insanity and I do hope you aren't seriously suggesting any operator in the world has replaced runs of copper with other copper. Fibre is cheaper in many ways, which is about the only reason BT will be running it to greenfield. Only reason it isn't going to brownfield to speak of is just cost.

No-one in telecomms considers copper in any part of the network as anything bar obsolete, with FTTC just a stepping stone to FTTP/B.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
GMAN you aren't one of that huge amount of Openreach engineers who would be made redundant by an all-fibre local loop and it's tiny maintenance costs in terms of personnel and finance relative to legacy copper solutions are you? ;)
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Heheh no I'm not an Openreach engineer and no, no-one would replace the old tatty copper to the cab with more copper, I'm talking for the sake of argument. I was talking about cyber's view on replacing everything copper as its really bad. Copper obviously isn't an issue apart from those stretches in particular. Its obviously capable of up to 10Gig with Cat 7 which is as you well know.. copper.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
this is aweful news on two fronts, we may now end up in a situation where ofcom will force every isp to have evil traffic shaping equipment, and once again the uk is at the forefront of helping the greedy entertainment industry. So welcome to the future of people been slowed down on false positives and isps who brought ellocoyas to enforce ofcom legislation then epanding their use for other stuff.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
I agree with you rroff, the only real losers from file sharing is the people who used to sell pirated dvds/cds, piracy has always existed it is not something that came along when bittorent and napster were created, but in the past it was more about people recording to tapes and buying movies/music from a dealer. Always the same sotry, the elite want to be controlling and hate someone getting something for free regardless if its caused a loss or not.
Posted by Rroff over 7 years ago
I still don't think the media industry is providing sufficent legal outlets for their product... its simple market forces - if you can't do business - don't be suprised when your empire crumbles.

Once we have wide spread, reasonable priced (and I don't mean cheap - I mean a fair price for both parties) and convenient distribution in a timely fashion without silly geographical boundaries - then start going after the freeloading scum. In the meantime your just cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
"Prefered soloution"

Hello, catch up with reality, please. Three strikes is illegal under European law as recent passed. More, most of the other soloutions you're discussing as also illegal.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
the distributing pirates are far too clever to be caught or stopped. (unless one goes turncoat). Only people who think they can get away with downloading will be caught. Life is too short. It is time the media industry stopped paying 'stars' exorbitant wages and providing vast quantities of hangers on with cushy jobs. They could trim their costs and provide value for money and the pirates would be out of a job. It is not a job for ISPs it is a job for common sense. It is only being flashed about to cover up the failing of the network, and an excuse to throttle users.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
I have wondered many times with how infested the uk isp market is with traffic shaping if the true reason for it is actually to help entertainment companies whilst passing it off as a means to control heavy users, its always the protocols which pirated media uses that gets the most heavily throttled. This move would simply be taking it to the next step to make the isps who are not doing it to do it by force.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
"its always the protocols which pirated media uses that gets the most heavily throttled." - Because those are the ones that take up the most bandwidth? I think your reading too much into it I'm sure up until now throttling is to reduce the need to buy more central pipes not because of any mandates
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
We are on the road to Fascism.

Corporations using the government to enforce their will upon us.

When will we learn?
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
TheEvilOverlord writes "The head of UK ISP TalkTalk, Charles Dunstone, has made the comment ahead of the communications minister's Digital Britain report that illegal downloading cannot be stopped. He said 'If you try speed humps or disconnections for peer-to-peer, people will simply either disguise their traffic or share the content another way. It is a game of Tom and Jerry and you will never catch the mouse. The mouse always wins in this battle and we need to be careful that politicians do not get talked into putting legislation in place that, in the end, ends up looking stupid.'
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
Posted by Rroff over 7 years ago
Nice to see someone who has a grasp of the situation (even if it is talk talk) and making sense.
Posted by c_j_ over 7 years ago
Re all this anti-copper stuff: it's not the copper that's holding back broadband britain.

The copper is priced vaguely reasonably, and has enough bandwidth to keep 90% of the people happy 90% of the time. There is **no contention** on the copper between end user and DSLAM. There is a real problem with a small number of customers who get poor service (speed, reliability) because of poor copper. That doesn't mean all copper needs replacing ASAP.
Posted by c_j_ over 7 years ago

On the other hand, last time I checked, the interconnect between BTwoolsale and retail ISP (formerly the Centrals) is massively overpriced, massively contended, and frequently ill-managed even under the much overhyped 21CN (just ask AAISP, Enta, etc about 21CN).
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
gman99, actually during peak periods (when isps capacity is under pressure) sheer volume of normal http traffic is the majority of traffic. I know defenders of traffic shaping love to claim otherwise tho, I expect the same people who blame the top 2% of heavy users for isps inability to invest.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Oh I don't doubt it, and no doubt shaping p2p etc goes a way to relieve that pressure. I don't defend shaping etc either... but I do understand ISP's wanting to do more with their pipes its a cut throat business with end user pricing etc
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
Seems there is a relationship between poor quality service and traffic shaping when it comes to ISPs.

Look at ex-Entanet resellers, they can offer unlimited now for a low price.
Posted by Canopus over 7 years ago
Well I suppose this means I won't be able to use my Liveplayer that uses p2p to help distribute the live video stream albeit at a low bit rate, after all how would they know it's legitimate? Then will no longer be able to distribute their legal videos via p2p...or In fact I am beginning to see more and more use of p2p for legal file sharing.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 7 years ago
sweden has the solution, first pirate MEP to speak up for citizens of the ether.
power to the people.
Posted by herdwick over 7 years ago
http traffic doesn't reach 50% of Plusnet's traffic at any time, and that's after traffic managing the P2P which is not far off the http traffic when managed and *way* more when not.
Posted by Compbck over 7 years ago
If BT throttle my broadband connection any further I will ask them to pay me. Curently, I pay £26 per month for a maximum of 2Mbps and have done for the past 7 years. When I asked them for a fixed IP address in compensation for tolerating such slow download speeds I was told I would have to cancel my current account and re-sign as a business users. So throttling my account any further it make being a broadband user completely useless as a day to day tool, whether I download legit data or not.
Posted by c_j_ over 7 years ago
"http traffic doesn't reach 50% of Plusnet's traffic at any time, and that's after traffic managing the P2P which is not far off the http traffic when managed and *way* more when not."

You and I know that, but do you have a URL?

Anyway, unless someone has a good reason why Plusnet traffic would be radically different than the market in general, I'm reluctant to believe "during peak periods ... normal http traffic is the majority of traffic".

Evidence would be welcome, as always.
Posted by herdwick over 7 years ago
Evidence ? nah, this place is for baseless assertions and ranting, shirly ?

£26 per month ? time to shop around m8.
Posted by c_j_ over 7 years ago
Speaking of evidence, Ben Goldacre (of Bad Science fame) has demolished recent claims reported in The Sun and elsewhere about the costs of downloading. Putting to one side the basic fact that every downloaded item does not equate to a lost sale, the ridiculous £120bn a year claimed cost was way too high anyway. Bad arithmetic, as well as bad science. More at
Posted by herdwick over 7 years ago
Even with 473 million items at £2 lost margin call it a billion for the sake of it. Still an issue if your plan is for things based on intellectual property to be the mainstay of your economy.
Posted by Gzero over 7 years ago
Hi I live in UK, we produce poor music, the occasional decent film and a lot of really really bad youtube videos.
Posted by Gzero over 7 years ago
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
You know I would love to see copyright laws modernised. Making it only illegal to distribute copyrighted material for financial gain (giving away for free would be legal). This may sound far fetched but it was the original idea behind copyright to protect against others selling someone else's work. The music/movie industry's are now abusing the copyright concept.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
herdwick ok, http+streaming is over 50%, streaming sites such as youtube I class as http but plusnet dont. That graph still shows what I said tho, p2p is a only a small % of bandwidth during peak, off peak it grows since most overnight activity is downloading of large files, that is something that has occured for decades even before p2p existed people would download/upload overnight.
Posted by pigfister over 7 years ago
ACS:LAW has been sending threatening letters to people accusing them of sharing files on P2P networks: (link)

An encrypted tunnel with a dark net at the other end, how do they stop that?

Is Deep Packet Inspection being used to monitor all the net, and the threat of piracy & paedophiles the scare tactics being used by the Gestapo with their collaborative media?

terrorists terrorists, bird flu, Al-Qaeda, terrorists terrorists, be scared people you government knows best!
Posted by edwardmac over 7 years ago
The real solution is to sell the real thing at a real price, and to stop ripping us off as if we were idiots (obviously some of us are).
Posted by herdwick over 7 years ago
"p2p is a only a small % of bandwidth during peak" - that's because it's a Plusnet graph and they use heavy traffic management, dolt. Of course it's low in peak time as they won't let it be otherwise.

"the original idea behind copyright to protect against others selling someone else's work" - in which case protecting against others *giving it away* would be even more important.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
herdwick that will be a factor but if you look on the part of the graph where shaping is released (isnt on at least fully 24/7) then its clear p2p traffic remains a minority towards the busy periods. what makes p2p bigger non peak is not just shaping been loosened its more to do with that there is significantly less people using the isp so congestion dissapears and speeds go up on whats left.
Posted by NICK_ADSL_UK over 7 years ago
the UK will always be backward with bt in control and as they have a large membership it will take many years if ever for things to improve for all. at least I'm with zen so will probably be the last to feel any effects but I'm sure i will over time
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
In control of what? There's nothing stopping any ISP putting in their own network just like Virgin have.
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
Sure there is, local councils won't let anyone else dig up the roads that much these days. I agree in theory, but in practice...
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Well every April around our town they dig loads of holes and fill them in again in May :o)
Posted by Mr_Fluffy over 7 years ago
The streets around my house look like they've been targeted by the creatures from Tremors at the moment, aided and abetted by fleets of white vans. From the yellow plastic pipes I'd say this lot are in the pay of the Gas Companies. I've seen at least one cable company feed pipe unearthed, broken and in need of repair.
Posted by Mr_Fluffy over 7 years ago
Isn't it about time all services passed through the same duct or tunnel? Initial construction costs might be high if existing large bore services like sewers weren't used but future access would be simplified and minimise disruption.
Posted by Mr_Fluffy over 7 years ago
As far as attempts to control file sharing are concerned, if my ISP so much as attempted to tamper with my ability to use P2P, I would start using Tor and the like with a vengeance. As for copyright - I have no objection to paying a REASONABLE amount to the creator of anything that interests me, but I object to being ripped off by middlemen
Posted by Mr_Fluffy over 7 years ago
Recently I've purchased quite a few eBooks in the Mobipocket format, but I get rather annoyed when the publisher asks nearly the price of a hardback for a secure Mobi download that can run on just three devices when a licenced independent seller is able to sell the same book for four devices at less than half the price, although they still cost more than a paperback!
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
@Dawn_Falcon:Even you were right (and as others have said I don't think you are) you can hardly blame BT if a local council decided to buck the trend and try to protect road/paving quality.

In most places around the UK it probably isn't neccessary to dig the road up. Just poke the cable down one pothole and fish it out of a convenient one at the destination :)
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
Or at least limit the amount of digging by using the sewers like h20
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
the gas companies have dug up the road between my street cab and my house 4 times in the past 6 months, (seems they keep trying to fix a problem somewhere), if we adopted policies used abroad to reduce costs of rollout, then BT could have used that opportunity as an example to change cables, same applies to VM.
Posted by t0m5k1 over 7 years ago
thats jus typical of our dumb gov!

call all p2p network users a file sharer & make up draconian laws to avoid the small headache of changing business model's
it is blatanly obvious that the sale of dvd's & game's is a bigger cause for music sales to drop!
why would you spend £10 on a cd that only has 2 tracks you actually listen too??
i would rather spend £40 on a game & £2 on the 2 mp3's from junodownload or maybe use utorrent to search for more stuff from that artist, build a list of tracks i like then get them from some other sorce & burn my own cd!!
Posted by t0m5k1 over 7 years ago

come on how hard is it?

also it is blatanly obvious that this will just give more control over OUR rights to privacy so not only do they want DATA RETENTION they also want CONTROL OVER ACCESS
Posted by t0m5k1 over 7 years ago

as if it aint bad enough that BT limit the bandwidth to iplayer & other "legal" stream sorces!

opps did i just say that weeeeeeeeee i cant say that coz i work for an ISP surely i should be backing them F**K BT & UK Gov
Posted by t0m5k1 over 7 years ago


dont forget you can use bitorrent to update ubuntu (APT-P2P) & many many many other linux distro's which is 10x faster than http updates ;)

*hamachi vpn rings needed for torrent*
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 7 years ago
AndruC - gods. I suggest you actually try reading up on laying fibre before you say something that idiotic again.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.