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Is a deal close on providers becoming the frontline against piracy?
Friday 09 May 2014 10:08:07 by Andrew Ferguson

The Digital Economy Act was one of the last acts from the previous Labour Government and some four years later is still not working in the real world. The BBC has seen a document suggesting that a compromise has been arrived at with the four major broadband providers and the BPI and MPA (trade associations for music and film) such that warning letters over copyright infringement may start to be sent out in 2015.

Some two years ago the estimated date for the first letters was March 2014 and Ofcom has been busy commissioning studies to see how rife piracy is. The Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (Vcap) if it is as described is just going to be a series of letters sent out highlighting that an account was believed to have infringed copyright and to point out the raft of legal streaming and download services.

With no actual penalty, it is very likely that among young adults the letters may become a badge of honour, but there is still scope for the odd family argument when the bill payer opens the letter and tries to find out who it was in the house.

The threat of providers throttling or booting people off a service, i.e. the three strikes and your out type system has not seriously being considered for some time. The system that has been pushed around the discussion tables like a ticking time bomb has usually centred on providers keeping a tally of who gets letters and the copyright holders being able to apply for a court order to identify specific people so they can pursue them through the courts.

Broadband providers have generally tried to avoid becoming the moral guardians, the main reason being that once you start to mix a customer relationship with a policing type role the situation becomes very complex and the probability of increased churn shoots through the roof. In essence we believe that many infringers will simple switch provider after getting a couple of letters, or vanish by billing their next account in their partners name.

The money spent on this scheme would be better spent on ensuring that content is actually available via digital services. The music industry has almost learnt this lesson, but the film industry is still rife with exclusives that make it difficult to find content and in some cases content is not available at all. The game industry is an example of the bad practice that arises with digital downloads, invariably buying a digital copy of a game is more expensive than the physical media. The problem for games consoles is that you do not have competition for stores selling the digital copies.

We would like to see any studio or record label that did use such a scheme to be forced to ensure that the content they are pursuing people about was available at a reasonable price on the three or four main download/streaming services. Additionally any warning letter mechanism MUST include the right of appeal with some form of penalty for incorrectly sent letters.


Posted by Moradin over 2 years ago
Yet another stupid idea from the governement.

As soon as ISP's start to treat their customers like criminals, the isp who then makes the most profit is the isp that doesn't treat their customers like criminals.

simple business sense.

It isn't the ISPs job to worry about what content gets carried over their network... ie:
for the phone system should BT put filters in to stop anyone swearing in a telephone conversation.. its the same principle.

stupid. and easy gotten around.
Posted by mdar5 over 2 years ago
Personally I think you are wrong.
The blatant illegal downloaders who refuse to pay for anything at all are a small but highly vocal minority.
And they are, whatever you may think, indeed engaging in illegal behaviour.

The majority are fed up with the activities of this minority who are spoiling it for everyone else. As it the case with just about everything in life sad to report.

The ISP who starts to put in real hard effective controls will be the one who get the profits from Mr and Mrs Average.
Posted by tmcr over 2 years ago
So each ISP is going to get a hefty sum towards this scheme to plug a small hole in the Internet ? After 4 letters the action will just stop. Laughable to say the least. No point trying to object to what seems to be a pretty pointless scheme, the ISP's will be rubbing their hands and will no doubt have a great directors Xmas party this year !
Posted by comnut over 2 years ago
what, you just get a simple letter?? this will just go the same of all the junk mail, in the bin without even opening it!... :(
and if the above is all that is happening, everyone is LMFAO...
It is big industry that makes loads of money, selling overpriced, restricted media.. last time I got a PROPER DVD, I had to wait ages for lots of *un skippable* ADVERTS and warnings, before I could start the movie!!
That is why most are going to the pirate, it goes straight to the movie!!
programs are not much better, thankfully open source produces far better, you pay if you think it is good enough!
Posted by comnut over 2 years ago
more here..
and more comments here - saying a LEGAL way to get it at far cheaper than others..
itunes has season one of 24 for £25..
amazon has it for a tenner, (fiver used!!)
CEX has it for a fiver!!
why BOTHER downloading, when you can get the CD in your hands in less than an hour.. :)
Posted by Paul-B over 2 years ago
It would be interesting to know exactly how mdar5 knows just what "the majority" think... I'm an IT professional running my own technical support company and there isn't a single one of my 1000+ clients who gives a damn about illegal downloading (and I've discussed it with them all. over the years). By all means make your argument but don't trot out fallacious "facts" which you are unable to back up with proof.
Posted by fox-uk over 2 years ago
It seems that everyone misses the point.

Why do you think that ISPs provide 10% or less upload?

To torrent you have to upload a ratio of at least 1:1 with downloads.

Really ISPs are charging torrenters 10 times the fees of us normal users.

Am I the only one who can see who actually makes a profit?


ref - numerous grandchildren in States......
Posted by rogerforward over 2 years ago
"The ISP who starts to put in real hard effective controls will be the one who get the profits from Mr and Mrs Average."
Mr and Mrs Average wouldn't actually know who had put in really effective controls. I also think that you under-estimate how common it is in the UK for people to do things which you would probably tell us are illegal, but which in many countries are not. For example, me watching Game of Thrones online this morning when it isn't broadcast on Sky until this evening, at which point I will still be at work.
Posted by alanstott over 2 years ago
Broadband connections are generally less on the upstream to allow more bandwidth on the downstream. There's no big conspiracy going on.

For most ADSL products, technically if you wanted a higher upload speed, then you'd have to sacrifice some of your download speed.

I don't think ISPs are that interested in upload usage, it will hardly put any strain at all on their fiber backbone connections and doubt there's much money to make from general consumer market. Many ISPs don't even monitor or put caps on the upload usage. Just the download usage.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 2 years ago
One of my colleagues when I worked at Plusnet got a letter for downloading colin mcrae dirt. I remember reading it on our night shift. So this has been done in the past. It's like the Marine Offences Act and Radio Caroline all over again. Those were the days though :)
Posted by pcoventry76 over 2 years ago

Yes and Netflix has it and more for £6 a month. SO you could watch it all for £6 if you had the time.

Posted by drteeth over 2 years ago
Since I started downloading, I have bought many more DVDs and CDs than when I did not.
Posted by chrysalis over 2 years ago
Andrew, good comments you made how you feel the consumer needs to have proper rights, and very well put about the movie industry deliberatly making content expensive/diffilcult to access legally digitally. e.g. the movies are very segmented, there is no all in one streaming service, if one wants accessto all movies/tv they need to sub to multiple services as well as pay for pay per view.
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