UK To Force ISPs To Kick Casual File Sharers Off The Internet

from the no-internet-for-you dept

Last November, we were surprised to hear that the French government was convinced by the entertainment industry that it would be a good idea to have casual file sharers kicked off the internet. Soon afterwards, rumors spread that the UK was going down the same path, and now it appears that very similar legislation is being introduced in the UK, even as ISPs and Hollywood have tried to come to a “voluntary agreement” on just such a policy.

As in France, this will involve a “three strike rule,” with ISPs sending a “warning email” on the first suspected infringement, suspending the account on a second infringement and canceling the entire contract on the third. This seems to be a serious overreaction. Beyond shoving ISPs into the role of the entertainment industry’s police, judge, jury and jailer, it also is a legal solution to a business model problem. The entertainment industry is still unwilling to adapt its business model to the new distribution mechanisms of the internet. That should be a reason to change the business models — not change the rules of the internet. Only in the short-sighted minds of entertainment industry execs (and the politicians they support) would it make sense to change the platform to support a more limited business model, rather than embracing the new (more efficient) distribution platform and adjusting the business model.

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Comments on “UK To Force ISPs To Kick Casual File Sharers Off The Internet”

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Liquid says:

No more Internet:

There is no way that ISP’s are going to be able to do that and still make a profit. How are they supposed to know if you are doing something illegal if the rules are being set by the entertainment industry. You know that they want nothing more then to blow away all remnants of P2P networks, and protocols such as BitTorrent which are both legal. If they start to segregate their users people will be less incline to start businesses on the internet, and people will be less likely to sign up for the internet. I don’t really think that if this were to happen that ISP’s in the UK will stand for losing money, because some greedy fucks aren’t willing to get with the technology era and change their business models. It will boil down to if the UK laws adopt this then you know it will most certainly try to make its way over here to the states, and then that will be the end of the internet. You know that the RIAA/MPAA will view all internet protocols as a threat to their coffers, and make it so ISP’s block damn near EVERYTHING… Except porn.

Personally feel that the ISP’s should say hey we are not going to follow this ludicrous law since it will greatly hurt their revenue. As you see it with the enterainment industry you will see it with the ISP’s fighting to make sure that they are able to keep their customers, and give them the use of the internet. With out fear that they are going to be told that they are doing something wrong when it happens to be completely legal, and have their accounts forcefully canceled. All because some people who think they need more money, and cannot keep up with the times like the old codgers they are, and see that they internet is one more powerful marketing tool in their arsenal to make money. Again I say once the ISP’s start feeling the hit in the old pocket book they will start to go “hey this law is fucked up, and we are losing money over it. A bunch of old guys who run the entertainment industry can’t get with todays technology.” They will move to change it back for not only their sake, but for the sake of their customers.

Liquid says:

Re: Re: No more Internet:

That is totally true Peet, but if you think about it in a business standpoint that wouldn’t work. Granted that might free up a minute space of network bandwidth for another 1 or 2 people that casually surf the internet. By terminating a contract based off the amount of bandwidth that a person uses will only cause people from deciding to go with that ISP which will intern lower capitol income, which that will leave less money for hard ware upgrades such as servers, switches, routers, etc… That will only downgrade the performance of everyone else’s connections. That will likely cause a backlash for those that are still on that ISP’s network to drop for a better more reliable provider.

It would be less costly for them to take a hit for breach of contract then it would be to start losing a customer base. Do you really think a judge is going to award someone a couple million let alone a couple thousand to someone who lost their internet, and could surf porn anymore. the wrost they would have to do is give that customer upgraded service for cheaper or give them a period of time for free. With every thing soon switching to IPv6, and all the dark fiber that we here have in the US (unknown for UK and abroad) that will only increase the size of the net. Since we all know that fiber is light base data transmissions, and you only have to refract the light for every use a minute degree to bounce down the pipe. This leaves you with an almost unlimited number of users connected to one pipe of fiber with out any worry of data degredation or data collisions.

The fact that they would now be legally able to say “welp you used 40gigs of service this month and that cause blah blah blah, and now we have to drop you as a customer sorry for the inconvenience.” would just be asinine on their part. Business is business and money is money no matter what way you look at it.

Etch says:

Re: Too late

That’s the game of cat and mouse they’ve been playing for the past 10 years! Everytime they find a way to block a protocol or take down p2p software or even video streaming websites, something else comes out literally the next day and replaces it, its a never ending cycle!
They are fighting this entirely the wrong way, but its amusing watching them try and try and try with the same stupid tactics everytime!

SteveD says:

When will people realise there are no technologica

Despite the fact that 6 million filesharers equals 1 in 10 people living in the UK, the Government far rather listen to the reactionist copyright lobby groups then recognise social change.

This is all the more ironic as the government department handling the change is titled ‘Skills, Universities and Innovation’. The message constantly being delivered to students is that with the rise of cheap labour in eastern nations the UK will become a knowledge-based economy and the key to this will be our ability to innovate. What greater hypocrisy is there then to introduce legislation to protect industries that capitalise on youth culture from ever having to innovate?

The result of this bill is that the majority of filesharing will become harder to track, with greater use of encryption systems. The media companies are likely hoping it will provide them with excuses to sue the ISPs, who of course have deeper pockets then most casual filesharers.

Bake says:

An Ironic Twist

You know…I still remember the Internet in 1995. It was such a carefree, productive, sharing environment where anyone did and said as they pleased without worrying about what uptight “stuffed shirt” types would think. There was an informal “internet contract” that all users as well as anyone hosting sites and services used to abide by…it was the “spirit” of the internet. Had this been formalized then internet users today would be demanding that RIAA/MPAA members should be banned from the internet, not the other way around!

curious says:

It depends on whether this is implemented as a ‘criminal’ measure or a ‘civil’ measure.

If it is a criminal situation, surely the ISP would need proof to cut you off? Then there would be the cost to the ISP (unless the taxpayer ends up footing the bill) for the investigation (and lost revenues).

But if it is a civil situation then they could say with ‘reasonable doubt’ that a heavy encrypted user is probably downloading pirated stuff and BAM off you go.

Bears watching this one.

mkvf says:

It’s probably worth pointing out that this is still only a Green Paper, or an initial idea for a bill. The chances of this getting time in the commons are pretty slim, particularly once people start pointing out how unlikely it is to work.

Even if it did become law, I wonder if it would stand up to consideration by the courts. I’m not sure how you could justify being completely banned from the internet as a fair punishment for a civil offence. We don’t even have laws to ban paedos and terrorists from the net, so how could you justify banning someone just for downloading three songs from Britney’s latest opus?

Amanya Wannahearfrom says:

This is good stuff for all to hear!

It is true that media, film, could learn to realize:

“If their stuff is good, there will be a very long shelf life to selling the product anew- due to continually more people telling more people about this great movie/whatever.

If I did not have to give up personal info on line (for example) I would buy many books for several relatives, many tv series of the Sci-Fi realm, and so on. And this is at the heinous prices at Target for same, where I actually DO purchase items like this.

Rarely do I buy something for self once seen- I buy (and others do) to inform others.

Good article.


matt dale says:

Report it properly

Nice use of a headline to get traffic.

It is only proposed legislation, it may not even happen. Things like this can take years and then amount to nothing. Your article states “now it appears that very similar legislation is being introduced in the UK”, that’s a bit wide of the mark!

It’s crap misinformation like this that makes me want to get banned by my ISP!

Ronal Dino says:

Re: Report it properly

Do you honestly havea problem with the headline of the article? if you were at this site anyway, you could just click one more tome and enter a new page. don’t bring up a bunch of garbage against a reporter just because you don’t have the ability to bring a true and pertinent argument into this discussion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No more Internet: by Peet McKimmie on Feb 12th, 2008 @ 5:08am
Liquid, there’s another viewpoint here; the ISPs have been looking for years for a way to get rid of their “heavy users” (i.e. the unprofitable ones) without being sued for breach of contract. Now they’ll be able to say “…but we’re legally obliged to let you go.”

“heavy Users?”

If I pay for a certain amount of Bandwidth – I can use it. So what the F does this mean? Heavy Users pay more for the bandwidth they want. That would be like me going into a McDs and ordering 10 burgers and then being kicked out for eatting them all. WTF!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“”heavy Users?”

If I pay for a certain amount of Bandwidth – I can use it. So what the F does this mean? Heavy Users pay more for the bandwidth they want. That would be like me going into a McDs and ordering 10 burgers and then being kicked out for eatting them all. WTF!”

They pay for their bandwidth, and the company assumes they will use an average fraction of it. This isn’t a difficult concept. ISPs would be absolutely foolish to plan their system with an assumption of everyone using 100% of their bandwidth. So, in reality, “heavy users” leech the extra bandwidth from everyone else. So whats the big deal about them using the extra bandwidth? That raises the average fraction, which raises the cost for the ISP. Amazing math/economics/logic!

So, if you truly want to be fair, then ISPs should realistically sell bandwidth limits. Then, “heavy users” can pay $500/month for a cable modem, appropriately. And, the average user can pay a slightly discounted $30/month.

Also, your McDonalds analogy is a poor one. Your burgers are already purchased and it makes no difference whether you eat them or throw them out. If you purchased a “burger plan” in which you could get a maximum of 10 per day, and then they kicked you out because you ate the maximum every single day, and everyone else ate 3, that would make more sense.

moe says:

Re: Re: The Burger Plan

“Also, your McDonalds analogy is a poor one. Your burgers are already purchased and it makes no difference whether you eat them or throw them out. If you purchased a “burger plan” in which you could get a maximum of 10 per day, and then they kicked you out because you ate the maximum every single day, and everyone else ate 3, that would make more sense.”

Why would it make any sense, let alone “more sense,” if you paid for a plan to get up to 10 burgers a day and they kicked you out for getting 10 burgers a day? If you paid for the option of getting 10 burgers a day, and you actually use that plan to the fullest then you’re well within the terms of your contract.

If your ISP sells you an always-on internet connection with speeds up to 5 Mb/sec and you use 5 Mb/sec 24/7 then you’re well within the terms of your contract. One party in a contract can’t arbitrarily change the terms of the contract just because they’re losing money because of bad assumptions or poor foresight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The Burger Plan

“Why would it make any sense, let alone “more sense,” if you paid for a plan to get up to 10 burgers a day and they kicked you out for getting 10 burgers a day? If you paid for the option of getting 10 burgers a day, and you actually use that plan to the fullest then you’re well within the terms of your contract. “

It makes more sense as an analogy… I didn’t think it was necessary to re-iterate what I stated about ISPs… but apparently it just didn’t fly with you.

“One party in a contract can’t arbitrarily change the terms of the contract just because they’re losing money because of bad assumptions or poor foresight.”

Watch them. Read the fine print. They have no legal obligation to keep your rates the same.

Besides, I’m not defending the ISPs bad planning. I’m just telling it how it is. If you wanted to be fair, they would sell you what you really payed for, according to their terms. How they advertise a bandwidth then get upset when you use it is bad business.

Reason says:

Misinterpretation! PLEASE READ what this actually

If you read carefully the Times article, nowhere does it say that ISPs would be required to *monitor* their networks for illegal filesharing, only that they would have the legal obligation of taking action against “suspected offenders”. What this would mean is not that ISPs would become “the entertainment industry’s police, judge, jury and jailer”… only the last one. Presumably, the MAFIAA would then simply have MediaDefender and others monitor the networks and report all the IPs they spot to their respectives ISPs and have them punished.

Anonymous Coward says:

I can’t wait to hear from the news that an ISP took down a major corp’s internet or worse, a government internet connection because a employee etc was doing something questionable – HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

FUCK THE RIAA – I hope that musicians will start fighting the RIAA on this BS, They deserve a new business model – except for the few musicians that have the moronic thoughts as the RIAA ….Garth Brooks, Metallica, PRINCE and others – I have thrown all their CDs in the trash and will not give them 1 cent ever again, GREEDY BASTARDS the WHOLE LOT of them!

jez says:

okay seriously, what the hell are they thinking? Anybody out there that thinks that this is a good idea does not understand the implications of such an action.

To begin with it will acheeve nothing, you can as pointed out above quite happily stream movies online at divx high quality. So the movie industry is just moving the flow.

Secondly the cost of watching file transfers for every user to somehow “detect” whether a shared file is legal or not is ludicrous, I torrent perfectly legal files all the time, as well as using many p2p applications such as songbird to download music. While I understand that it is possible to confirm the legality of anything, I also understand that the cost of said confirmation is far too high for it to be carried out as it would be needed to. ISP’s will complain, people will tell them that no, they happen to use perfectly legal networks. It will stagnate.

If they belive something has to be done about “piracy” then I can understand that. But panning a technology isn’t the answer. People wanted to ban the printing press when it first came out, for worries of piracy, now the same is true for p2p it seems. If somebody is breaking the law, the solution isn’t to ban their tool!

Anonymous Coward says:

CoUgH more “BULLSHIT” …….

So ……… Without having to prove it, they can have someone banned? and the ISP will take their word for it? And what about those peeps who use IP redirectors and may be using someone else’s IP address? The illegal activity goes on and the innocent are taken off-line – yeah, that makes sense … NOT!!!!!


Steve says:

What about legal businesses who share data?

What happens when this law comes into effect, and an ISP decides to tell their customer who happens to run a legal business that they’re sharing reports and data illegally with their own sattelite offices?

This definitely needs to be looked at more scientifically before passing judgement. If the content is being shared, maybe someone should look at what that content consists of. But wait, if unencrypted, does that constitute a violation of privacy? Hmmm…. What if the governments mandated that specific types of content on specific ports, protocols and networks be monitored? Again, what becomes of the large corporation distributing time trials of their software through torrents, or other P2P’s to save on bandwidth and speed up delivery?

I believe that the only way to solve the issue of antipiracy is to appoint a multinational group, with a Knowledge Manager (science officer for us geek types), who understands the issues, the implications, the technologies, and impact of each decision made. In turn, these decisions should be made by the businesses(sans torrent / sharing sites)and organizations which will be impacted by them.

Reason (user link) says:

Re: What about legal businesses who share data?

And yet again… There is no evidence beyond Mike’s jumping to conclusions that the proposed bill would demand ISPs to monitor the data being transferred (which would be absurdly impractical and admittedly well within the RIAA/MPAA stupidity limits). ISPs would probably only have to bow down to the BPI or whoever and punish whoever they point their fingers at.
Whether a mere say-so of the industry would be sufficient evidence remains to be seen, but such unbridled arbitrariness would be cause of serious concern, given the MAFIAAs record of random targetting.

mike allen says:

so far

no one has answeared the question in post 7 can any one tell the differance between a linux distro or illegal music being downloaded. what of the BBC iplayer that uses Bit torrants so that concert you missed and download you could well get a email saying its illegal even if it isnt. what about who was on the computer or if someone piggy backs your wireless connection. i dont think any security on home networks is compleatly secure. Anhd it is not just aimed at bit torrants but streaming the words used are copyright material. this includes inter radio etc etc it will be far reaching but you have about a year to get rid of as several readers of the The Times said these government control freaks.

Atra Mors says:

far deeper than that

The business world always wanted a way to control the Internet – ever since they saw their mistake by not investing in it right from the start. The governments always wanted to find a reason to regulate the Internet because it was a place of true freedom, and that is no good for anybody.

With this green paper they both have a test case: The business people can get a bloody nose, but groups like the RIAA are used to it by now, and the government walks away scott free with not a scratch. If on the other hand this green paper makes it all the way to be a law – then ladies and gentlemen it is time to say goodnight to the freedoms we enjoy on the internet. Forget file sharing – think bigger. Freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc, etc – what the government and their lobbyists don’t like can be made illegal by law just like that.

Don’t believe me? Look over the pond to America where all the freedoms are slowly erode away without anybody really noticing or just join AOL…

ISP’s in the UK are already bound by law to hand over information to any law agency that requires it about a user and needs to keep the records of a users surfing habits for three years (in case you missed that) – this is about controlling the Internet, nothing else…

Anonymous Coward says:

I DISAGREE , If I pay for an internet connection of 1.5 mbps, I should be able to use that speed 100% of the time if I choose, that is what I paid for and does not make me a leech! If they wanted people to use 500kbps, they should ell them a connection that is 500kbps, I WORK FOR A MAJOR TELCO! I know they over subscribe their links 300% , so on a DS1 of 1.5mbps, they place 4.5 mbps worth of ckts on it. I’m just glad I’m old and won’t be around for the internet war age , which is coming. Corps, Executives, governments from around the world are raping THE PEOPLE and will continue until THE PEOPLE stand the FUCK up and say something. Thank you Techdirt for your opening our eyes, unfortunately, you can only report the dirt, it takes US to do something abou it.

Blessesd Be

Take off says:

and nuke the site from orbit

But seriously. The Media Industry is getting away with murder these days (and they complain about piracy! ha!)

The only way they will isten to ‘the public’ is a BOYCOTT!



Come on folks, let get viral with this.

I realise that getting Joe Family to commit to this is difficult but folks have to realise that if the MEDIA industry has their was, then eventually your Grandma will be in court for ripping a CD to her iPod!


Internet and nazi's says:

Piss on hollywood

Alright so the entertainment industry knows that file sharing is bad, lets take everyone convicted of file sharing throw them on an island without any luxuries… lets film it, and call it Sharing Survivor! where the winner of the show gets immunity from the RIAA,

Viva La Revolution, The world is ours for the taking, if the entertainment industy is really hurt by this, I have a way for them to save a ton of cash. quit spending millions on the RIAA, lawyers and Polititions. If they did that the 10 million that know about all the free sites to watch any and all movies, would not hinder the box office or make a song last on the top 40 more then what it already does…

Why pay for something more when your paying time warner 50.00 for internet, isnt that payment enough??? If the RIAA wants to get the point acrossed i heard President Bush is going for Cheap these days!

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re:

Congratulations you’re now the dumbest post in this article.

This isn’t about illegal anything anymore. They want the ability to say this person is downloading files and the ISP has to cancel their account. How accurate is the MPAA/RIAA? How many suits have they filed that were correct? One wrong is far to many.

They want to stop P2P all together. I’m talking about all the legal file sharing. Linux, legal movies (not just ones that are over 70 years old), The new model of music distribution. How the hell is the RIAA/MPAA or whoever going to be able to tell the difference? There is no real way so they will guess. That is a vary bad thing.

They want control. Don’t let them take it.

(damn RIAA shill)

ian (profile) says:

P2P users ejected

There is a human story here that that me musn’t ignore. People are losing their jobs as a result of illegal file sharing. In the USA Tower Records filed for bankruptcy others have had to cut cost which has meant job losses and dropped artist.

However the most infuriating thing I read recently was that some of the P2P providers have made offers to some of the biggest players in the music industry, pledging to charge P2P customers for downloading. Users would pay via credit card with payments automatically charged to monthly ISP bills.

There was also talk of P2P providers lobbying for surcharges on blank CD’s and MP3 players. The idea for this is to create a royalty pool of money to pay the music industry.

Legislation is the cheapest option for controling the illegal business of some file sharing certainly but I’ve posted some pretty radical ideas at

Please do take a look. at the last section if you can’t be arsed to read all of it… Leave a comment or two If the mood takes.

Nice one Amigo’s

dedric says:

Re: most companies ask for it lol

exactly, my point taken out of my gob. If these things didn’t exist there would be no tool to gather these “Illegal file sharing documents” ! I could go on a huge rant about my amazing revelations on all this but im not going to.. ill put it simply : If it were not for GREED then all of these so called crimes and problems would become irrelivent! They are are the criminals not us!

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