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Ofcom publishes Draft Initial Obligations Code for unlawful file sharing
Friday 28 May 2010 14:38:13 by Sebastien Lahtinen

The Digital Economy Act required Ofcom to develop an Online Copyright Infringement Initial Obligations Code which would manage the process of rights holders issuing copyright infringement notices to service providers. Ofcom has today published a draft of this code which is now open for consultation until 30th July.

The Act requires Internet Service Providers to both pass on the notices to their subscribers as well as keep count of how many infringement notices have been sent to each subscriber. This information can then be provided in a report to rights holders to allow them to target legal action.

Ofcom states that where it has discretion, the interests of 'citizens and consumers' will be central to its approach and that a system of quality assurance reporting will ensure that allegations of copyright infringement are based on upon 'credible evidence, gathered in a robust manner'. It will also establish an independent appeals body to hear any appeals and that this process should also consider the right to anonymity.

The code sets out a three-stage process for informing broadband users of infringements, including requiring easy-to-understand information on what the notice means and what they should do to check for example, that their wireless router isn't open for anyone in the neighbourhood to use their broadband connection.

Once a user has been sent a copyright infringement notice, this fact (without the user's identity) can be reported to the copyright owners who have made at least one report against them.

Initially, the code will only apply to fixed-line ISPs with more than 400,000 subscribers, which effectively covers 96% of broadband users in the UK. This will ensure that small and medium sized operators are not disproportionately affected by being required to implement systems to deal with copyright infringement reports. Mobile operators often use Network Address Translation (NAT) to deliver services so they are excluded as well for the time being. However, should there be an obvious trend of infringers moving to smaller providers or mobile broadband, Ofcom may review this.

Ofcom expects the code to be finalised by 8th January 2011 unless ministers extend the timetable. The code will require parliamentary approval and will also need to be notified to the European Commission. Government consultations should usually last at least 12 weeks, so it is slightly puzzling to see this code consultation only being two months, although we note that Ofcom has not signed up to the Code of Practice on Consultation.

More to follow...


Posted by m5rcc over 7 years ago
The beginning of the end. They'll be charging to breathe air next.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
I can see a lot of little ISPs coming in the future.

Can't the big ones some how separate into 399,999 chunks? Like have a corporate parent etc.
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
@otester: Ofcom may extend code if people move to smaller ISPs
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 7 years ago
@seb but extending the code will take time and resources... even then, they just split up into ISP's each with 199,999 subscibers and so on and so on...

Lot of work, but would get you the customers.

I would love to see the whole appeals process, as how can the average user confirm they have been hacked?
Posted by otester over 7 years ago

Unfortunately that may be the case.

However AAISP seems to have a way of making each user its own ISP and avoiding the process altogether.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
Another option is to offer free VPN's.
Posted by Somerset over 7 years ago
Would an ISP want to split up because a few of its customers were behaving wrongly, easier to just get rid of them and lose £20/month.

There is no benefit in having customers who use huge amounts of bandwidth and only pay peanuts.
Posted by tommy45 over 7 years ago
If the lib dems get their way the deb will get repealed, so ofcom's code of b/s won't be needed, what do ofcom ever do in the interests of the paying public,
Posted by mishminx over 7 years ago
Any avoidance technique such as splitting ISP's will surely eventually become a target. Depending how long it takes them to change the rules.

People often used to share usenet subscriptions, many of which now come with a VPN add on. Frowned upon these days but it might become more popular again. Alternatively we might find one person in a group downloading and supplying all friends with dvd's. Again once popular but now less so.

In addition there will be the obvious spate of new vpn offerings. Quite how these will be tackled should they prove too popular will indeed be interesting.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
VPN's, SSL usenet connections, how do Ofcom propose these are tackled? Wouldn't it be dodgy ground snooping on what is a private connection?
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
@tommy45: It won't be repealed. In the the end the LibDems care far more about getting more seats in parliament than repealing the DEA.. It's just one piece of legislation they can sacrifice. I'm sure they could have argued it into coalition agreement if they felt it was important. Of course how the secretary of state uses the discretionary powers will be another matter.

@GMAN99: The rights owners just find the IP and then target the ISP. It's not just about broadband. Usenet isn't (I think) covered (well anyway).. Obviously overseas VPNs may complicate things too.
Posted by GMAN99 over 7 years ago
But seb how does the rights owner find the ip in the first place? Are we talking here about ISP's monitoring for infringement or just acting upon it when notified by the owner, if its the latter how will the owner know unless its basic p2p stuff, where people can fake or use other peoples valid ip addresses
Posted by davolente over 7 years ago
OFCOM don't seem to have been issued with any teeth. I have sent them what I considered to be perfectly legitimate complaints regarding a commercial radio station (now defunct, as it has fully mutated into something completely different right under their collective noses) who was pretty obviously trying to sneakily change its format, not to mention slipping it's own record label tracks in and plugging them at every opportunity. No joy at all.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago

It's not wrong, it's similar to the Jim Crow laws, backwards and wrong.


They can make a suspect connection drop packets so the VPN fails and then they can see the data unprotected, I'm sure if this becomes a problem this will be fixed.
Posted by ElBobbo over 7 years ago
otester - you have anything to back that up? No VPN would fail in that manner.
Posted by otester over 7 years ago

Well it works for stopping seeding on networks (Comcast).

It's just hearsay so maybe VPN's will be ok, but if there is a router reboot or connection restart then that will leave you open.
Posted by Dixinormous over 7 years ago
otester Comcast don't do protocol specific shaping. I know the forums you frequent and they are full of misinformation. Comcast's management is protocol agnostic.

The easy solution to avoid this is very simply to not download the stuff in the first place, simples.
Posted by dgmckenzie over 7 years ago

Making the line drop to "make" the VPN fail would probably falls under Hacking or Computer Misuse both of which are criminal offences.
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 7 years ago
@otester: It doesn't apply to AAISP anyway. And if it ever does, I don't think Ofcom will allow this workaround to work for long.

@GMAN99: ISPs are not monitoring for infringement but rights owners would have to provide credible evidence. I guess in the p2p case, the rights holders would need to download a small part to verify it contains copyrighted material to satisfy that barrier. I agree there will be many arguments.
Posted by c_j_ over 7 years ago
"Comcast don't do protocol specific shaping."

Comcast did do protocol specific shaping, by most people's definitions, until the FCC forced Comcast to stop fiddling with P2P traffic. And if I remember rightly it cost them $16M.

What a concept, a regulator with teeth. And that in the home of the "free market" AND the RIAA/MPAA!
Posted by cooldude over 7 years ago
"drop packets so the VPN fails"

and very easy fix for that is even if they try that
run your VPN
route delete you must uses your Default Gateway
in the command line
so and eg would be
route delete

if you fished with your vpn
stop your vpn
then type
route add mask you must uses your Default Gateway if 2

so and eg would look like
route add mask if 2

you must but the "if f2" at the end of the line like i have shown
make you self 2 .bat on desktop for easy use

Posted by cooldude over 7 years ago
more in more in depth way
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Laughable, quote...
"requiring easy-to-understand information on what the notice means and what they should do to check for example, that their wireless router isn't open for anyone in the neighbourhood to use their broadband connection."

Quite how they will know if a person has a wireless capable router with WEP or WPA functionality to turn on is a mystery indeed. I have an old Broadcom wireless router with no WEP or WPA feature set. CONT....
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Oh and why shouldnt anyone be allowed to share their connection wirelessly with "anyone in the neighbourhood"? If those in the neighbourhood download illegal content with it dont blame me catch the criminal not the innocent person who just provided the thing that allowed the illegal activity.
What next prosecuting a shop every time some thug slashes someone/thing with a steak knife?
This bill is shambolic butt licking of the music/movie industry... NOTHING MORE
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
It's just like with drugs, legalize.

This is a war you can't win, pirates are winning.
Posted by drteeth over 7 years ago
VPNs are very cheap at the moment. Some are set up such that if the VPN fails, one is NOT dropped back to an unmasked connection. God this is going to be easy <g>.
Posted by XANTIA-1975 over 7 years ago
Carpetburn I have news for you.
English Law at the moment dictates that you are responsible for your account. If someone uses a p2p on your account YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE and going to court saying I don't know how to secure my wifi will not work.

Same as if I came round your house and downloaded indecent images on to your computer YOU WILL BE PROSECUTED why cause its your computer.

I have seen many cases of people being stiched up over this.
Posted by davolente over 7 years ago
If something is illegal or unlawful, it should be dealt with by the courts of the land, not some totally biassed body fed by the entertainment industry.
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