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UK ISP's deal to hit file-sharers

PCScreen.jpgThe British Government has finalised a deal between the British film and music industries and the Internet Service Providers (ISP's) to start hitting back at those who the industries believe are downloading and sharing illegal files.

The deal ensures that both the copyright holders and the ISP's will work together to identify those file-sharers that they believe are sharing files illegally and send them warning emails, with possible repercussions for repeat offenders.

At the moment the deal will mean that the companies that own the rights to the files being shared can contact the ISP's and ensure that their customer is sent a letter informing them that they are sharing or downloading the file illegally and detailing legitimate ways of getting hold of the film, song, or whatever.

The article from Variety goes on to say that the pact, which is backed by the Government, will see the ISP's and the rights holders work together to develop ways to deal with repeat offenders as well as technology solutions which will help reduce content theft.

Now that's the worrying part. I understand if you really are illegally sharing or downloading files, but what's your recourse to fight back if you get a letter? Guilty until cut off?

If the rights holder contacts the ISP and says that you're sharing files illegally what can the ISP do? Legally they aren't allowed to monitor your traffic and start identifying what you're sending and receiving, if they were to do that they'd see everything coming through your connection, that's like BT tapping your phone on the request of another company.

So does that mean that the ISP will just take the company's word for it and send you the letter, putting one black mark against your account whatever the reason?

What could these further measures be? Would they consider three complaints and your account is suspended or even cancelled? Just at the request of an external company? Surely there would have to be some way for you to appeal against it?

What about the case of downloading a television show that's showing on your television, the television set that you've already paid the Government licence fee to own and that the television station are broadcasting across the country free of charge. In effect you've already paid to see it.

So in that case would the ISP simply take the word of the company and start writing letters with a possible suspension or account closure down the road?

There's also that worrying aspect of the technology solutions that they will be exploring together, surely that means filtering content and stopping file sharing applications, or even worse restricting bandwidth or connections?

The article goes on to claim the usual points about file sharing, luckily they've stopped with that old argument that it funds organised crime and terrorism. They say it's financially harming to the industry.

Yeah, tell that to the audience who are watching The Dark Knight figures and the increase in cinema attendance last year in the UK, is that piracy just taking a break for a year and for a specific film? I think not.

The article also complains that illegal file-sharers consume very large amounts of bandwidth. So what? ISP's offer the bandwidth in the contract when you sign up with them, and if you use too much for whatever reason, you get restricted. What's that got to do with illegal file-sharing? Surely legitimate file-sharing does that too, so does watching film trailers all the time, or downloading too many game demos, playing online all the time with the PS3 or XBox 360, or downloading purchased music, games and films, or even video and audio calling with friends around the world.

Anyway, if the ISP is losing too much bandwidth, even not through illegal file-sharing, then they'll just introduce their open “fair use policy” clause and restrict the bandwidth for customers.

I don't see why this is attributable to illegal file-sharers, and if the ISP's are offering the bandwidth in the contract, why are they concerned about their customers using it? If you can't supply something, don't offer it in the first place.

Straws. Clutching. At. You know what to do, go ahead and rearrange those words.

The real reason appears in a comment at the end of the article from Mark Batey who is the CEO of the Film Distributors' Association.

“Film distributors are excited by the multitude of opportunities presented by digital technology, but it is essential that the respect for intellectual property is not lost along the way”

More money.

All this screaming about file-sharers destroying their industry while The Dark Knight is raking in record amounts.




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