UK ISP Shows Why Kicking People Off The Internet Based On An IP Address Is Dumb

from the let's-use-some-logic dept

UK ISP TalkTalk has been a strong critic of the way the recording industry has tried to turn ISPs into copyright cops in the past. A year and a half ago it swore it would not be a copyright cop, and scolded BPI for suggesting it had any responsibility to enforce the entertainment industry's poor excuse for a business model -- while also complaining about "the most unbelievably rude letter" that BPI sent TalkTalk in demanding it do so. At the time, he told them:
"They're not just shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted -- the horse has left town, got married, and started a family."
Well said. Then, earlier this year, TalkTalk's CEO also pointed out how naive it was to think that the industry could do anything to stop unauthorized file sharing, noting:
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....

If people want to share content they will find another way to do it....
TalkTalk is continuing to show how silly the recording industry's plans are, by doing a little demonstration. The company sent out a security expert on staff to an ordinary street in Stanmore, Middlesex. Then it had him find all the WiFi connections there -- noting that many were totally open, and many others used weak security. From a few open ones, he went and downloaded some songs including Barry Manilow's hit Mandy and the soundtrack to the 1992 film Peter's Friends -- those two choices in honor of Peter Mandelson, the UK Business Secretary who suddenly became a supporter of kicking file sharers off the internet using a three strikes provision after dining with entertainment industry mogul, David Geffen.

To be clear, in this case, the music downloads were both done legally -- and the company checked with the WiFi access point owners first to make sure they were okay with it -- but the point is still clear. Just because you have an IP address, it doesn't act as any sort of proof. TalkTalk's director of strategy and regulation, Andrew Heaney made the point clear:
"The Mandelson scheme is every bit as wrong-headed as it is naive. The lack of presumption of innocence and the absence of judicial process combined with the prevalence of wi-fi hacking will result in innocent people being disconnected."
This, of course, is the same point that plenty of people have been making for ages, but the recording industry never has a good response. They also haven't been able to respond to a more important point: how will kicking people off the internet make anyone more interested in buying music?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 2:55am

    ...

    "They also haven't been able to respond to a more important point: how will kicking people off the internet make anyone more interested in buying music?"

    They did... you just ignored it. Some ridiculous percentage of kids would rather get sued than lose their internet connection. Fear, being the biggest motivator for the human race, would push them to maybe go the legal route.

     

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  2.  
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    Call me Al, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:02am

    "The lack of presumption of innocence and the absence of judicial process combined with the prevalence of wi-fi hacking will result in innocent people being disconnected."

    A very true statement. However I think it doesn't go far enough, really no one should be kicked off the internet without due process whether guilty or innocent. If you are punished for a crime then it must be taken through proper channels.

     

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  3.  
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    Rabbit80, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:28am

    Whilst I agree with TalkTalk's talk, I dislike their traffic shaping policys that make P2P downloading difficult at any times other than the graveyard shift! They already force me to take measures to disguise my P2P traffic! (I don't actually use TalkTalk - however my parents do)

     

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  4.  
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    Jason (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:35am

    Re: ...

    "Fear, being the biggest motivator for the human race, would push them to maybe go the legal route."

    Fear, being the biggest motivator for the human race, would push them to, as the article said, "either disguise their traffic or share the content another way."

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:43am

    Re: ...

    Case in point - kids are not allowed to smoke or drink alcohol. (They have the legal option of waiting until they're old enough.) Off-licenses can be heavily fined if they're caught selling either to minors - the kids themselves can face sanctions for underage smoking or drinking. Both are worse than losing their internet connection.

    Many drugs are 100% illegal, and people can face some pretty hefty penalties for possession - far more than losing their internet connection, and nevermind the fact that some of those drugs could potentially kill them outright. There is no legal option to obtain these drugs.

    If fear of the repercussions hasn't worked much there, why do we suddenly think it'll work here for a far tamer set of circumstances - and considering that the opportunities to get back online are so vast as to make the punishment close to trivial for the offender?

    Bottom line - this is plain stupid. It's hardly even a speedbump for the technically savvy - and believe me, those kids you're talking about are very, very savvy - and it will penalise people with no presumption of innocence.

     

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  6.  
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    Yogi, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:45am

    Re: ...

    But the point is that sharing is extremely easy in the digital age and an internet connection is not even necessary to do so.

    One friend with a USB key can share all the music in the world with his friends.

    Sharing and copying are already here - that's the point.

    If you really want to stop sharing you must, basically, stop digital altogether.

    That's why the legacy content companies are so wrong about this issue.

     

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  7.  
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    Planespotter, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:56am

    @ Rabbit80

    As someone who continually faces the wrath of his ISP (BT) for going over the Fair Usage Policy on his "Unlimited Up To 8mbit" connection I can't see what your problem is....

    So what that you have to queue up your downloads overnight, at least you are able to do so. An ISP is offering a service, they will do things that benefit the greatest majority of its users.... and traffic shaping p2p means they can do just that.

     

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  8.  
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    lulz, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 4:14am

    Re: ...

    it is a bit misleading to characterize these file sharers as "kids". Come back with evidence if you want to make that claim.

     

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  9.  
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    James, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 4:54am

    Re:

    What are you on about...
    I'm with TalkTalk and I can get my full speed (a whopping 4mbit that's to the limits of the BT exchange my town is on) But still I get this at any time day or night with torrents, no shaping no . If you want shaping go to virgin, BT etc etc...
    I suggest you go away get Utorrent, get your Firewall set up right and try again with a descent none public tracker (and so descent piers) - Oh and scan your PC for mailware...

    On the Story THERE CEO IS THE REASON I'M WITH TALK TALK....

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 4:56am

    Re: Re: ...

    even though you are correct, that is hardly the point.

     

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  11.  
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    CheezeBurger, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 5:03am

    Re: Re: ...

    We can not have logic and facts get in the way of an emotional argument.

     

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  12.  
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    Sheinen, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 5:13am

    With daft neighbours and poor wi-fi security the morally unsound person could downloaded unlimited data without a trace.

    Shutting down the Internet Connection for the person they stole from is like charging a rape victim for indecent exposure.

     

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  13.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 5:15am

    Re: ...


    They did... you just ignored it. Some ridiculous percentage of kids would rather get sued than lose their internet connection. Fear, being the biggest motivator for the human race, would push them to maybe go the legal route.


    No, it might push them to stop file sharing, but no one said why it would make them suddenly *buy*.

     

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  14.  
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    ShapeNbake, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 5:17am

    Re: @ Rabbit80

    Next they will be shaping their competition out of business

     

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  15.  
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    NoName, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 5:19am

    Re:

    the way things are going, that is not out of the realm of possibilities

     

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  16.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 5:25am

    Re: ...

    Fear, being the biggest motivator for the human race, would push them to maybe go the legal route.

    But that fear will be mixed with anger and that anger will drive them away from the content provided by the those who they fear and dislike.

    As my mother in law likes to say "you get more with sugar than with vinegar."

    This is a big dose of vinegar - it won't be productive.

     

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  17.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 5:25am

    Re: ...

    Fear, being the biggest motivator for the human race, would push them to maybe go the legal route.

    But that fear will be mixed with anger and that anger will drive them away from the content provided by the those who they fear and dislike.

    As my mother in law likes to say "you get more with sugar than with vinegar."

    This is a big dose of vinegar - it won't be productive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Rabbit80 (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re:

    OK - a case I experienced over the weekend... I needed a particular diagnostics CD for working on a friends computer. I launched my newsreader using my parents broadband (as they live in the same town as my friend) and managed a rather poor 35Kb/s download speed. I then connected via VPN and using the same newsreader was getting near 600Kb/s. There are no firewall issues etc.. simply the traffic shaping employed by TalkTalk (which didn't affect the encrypted VPN)

     

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  19.  
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    Rabbit80 (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re: @ Rabbit80

    The reason I have a problem is usually because these traffic shaping issues affect my usage patterns. I recently moved to O2 who had no shaping on their network, however they have recently employed it. I now have been forced into using a VPN most of the time to overcome this - else I find that what used to take 1-2 hours suddenly takes 6.

    At the end of the day, if I am paying for an 8Mb connection (and getting pretty close on the line speed) then why should I not be able to use it at its maximum capacity 24/7.

    I have also fallen foul of caps that ISP's place on their packages under "fair use policy's" - even without telling you what the cap is. My last provider was 40Gb per month - though they never had that in writing anywhere and would not put it into writing. On an 8Mb line this is under 20 hours usage - what are we supposed to do for the remainder of the month?

     

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  20.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 6:02am

    Re: Re:

    And that is now the scariest thought i have had in a while.
    Do you ever get the feeling maybe we took a wrong turn somewhere? This is a world where stupid politicians can bend over backward for everybody *but* their constituents (not sure how the UK gov works, so this really only applies to USA afaik). Yes, I definitely think we took a wrong turn somewhere. Probably about the time big business had the power to control the fate of other people's lives and even countries.

     

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  21.  
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    Overcast (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 6:05am

    Proof and ethics have nothing to do with this 'agenda'.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 6:21am

    Re:

    NO, NO, NO, god-damn-it... these people are terrorists and need to be chopped up in a wood chipper, doused with pig blood and and buried under a prison. They are not human, these file sharers. They are terrorist pigs that threaten the very fabric of our world. We need to stop them at all costs. Following the proper channels will only give them a chance of getting away and prevent us with exacting our revenge... er justice on them.


    /sarcasm

     

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  23.  
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    JackSombra (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 8:05am

    Re: ...

    "They did... you just ignored it. Some ridiculous percentage of kids would rather get sued than lose their internet connection. Fear, being the biggest motivator for the human race, would push them to maybe go the legal route."

    Fear does not get them "interested in buying music", it might get them to stop sharing music (but highly unlikely, people have been sharing music since the cassette tape at the very least, long before internet file sharing) but it does not entice them to go out and "buy it"

    Those who want to and are able to buy music already do, nothing short of laws telling people they must buy X amount of albums per month or go to jail will force the rest to go out and buy it

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 8:07am

    I`m just sick to death of hearing & seeing that slimy toe rag Mr "UK Business Secretary who suddenly because a supporter of kicking file sharers off the internet using a three strikes provision after dining with entertainment industry mogul, David Geffen." mandelson, who denies his support for 3 strikes after the meeting, who has left & returned UK politics like the phoenix.

    Roll on Mandy when labour are gone so are you unless you get Brown to give you your "lordship".

    For the benefit of our USA friends, Mandy is one slimy corrupt mofo.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    nifty, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: ...

    So behind the times....people arent downloading nearly so much anymore. They are swapping their media player terrabyte drives full of songs, series, and movies with each other at school, work, etc. Maybe when the tubes of the internet get bigger then people will go back to the internet but in the last year there has been a big shift and as the drives get bigger the swapping will get busier.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 8:49am

    Suddenly became a supporter?

    not suddenly because mike

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 10:13am

    "-- those two choices in honor of Peter Mandelson, the UK Business Secretary who suddenly because a supporter of kicking file sharers off the internet using a three strikes provision after dining with entertainment industry mogul, David Geffen."

    Should be "became", not "because".

    Unless I'm missing something.

     

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  28.  
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    PRMan, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re:

    "these people are terrorists and need to be chopped up in a wood chipper, doused with pig blood and and buried under a prison. They are not human"

    At first I thought you were talking about the RIAA...

     

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  29.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 12:53pm

    Its a fear thing ...

    Mike - "how will kicking people off the internet make anyone more interested in buying music"

    It wont, its a fear thing ....
    Fear that the good old days are ending.
    Fear of getting disconnected that they can "Use" to "Stop" piracy.

    What you probably realize is that for the most part this campain is run by independant organizations, hired by the labels, whose sole purpose is to show the labels they are doing "Something" to stop piracy. Which is why they display such irrational, disjointed, and self defeating behavior. They more than likely know there is nothing that can be done to stop copyright infringement, but they have to do "Something" to justify their existance.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    anon, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 4:18pm

    SO dim - the record industry has only to show that on a balance of probability there has been an infringement. The possibility of stealing from unsecured WiFi is irrelevant! The ISPs either don't understand the difference between criminal and civil or they have decided to ignore it.

    The conviction of the Piratebay "boys" and the toughening of the law seems to have resulted in a large increase in legal sales of music.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 7:14pm

    Re: Re: ...

    This reminds me of a joke I heard (I think on SNL (Saturday Night Live for the acronym-deficient)) about a college implementing a "no sex while your roommate is in the room" policy that went something like...

    "College students have already found a loophole: They're doing it anyway."

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    The Idiot, Oct 20th, 2009 @ 1:21am

    Whilst I don't agree with TalkTalk on a lot of things, this I can get behind; showing the legacies how stupid it is to kick people off the Net based on an ISP.

    Case in point; my current IP address shows up as a town based 30 miles away. So you're going to kick someone off in a major city? Well Done!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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