UK ISPs Agree To Send Out Intimidation Notices For Claimed Infringement

from the educational-program dept

Despite no real evidence of effectiveness, various UK ISPs have now agreed to start sending out "educational" "alerts" to subscribers that copyright holders accuse of using their internet connection for unauthorized file sharing. This is a modification on the US "six strikes" system, in that these latest alerts are even more meaningless. Unlike the US's "voluntary" system, in which ISPs may take some limited punitive measures, the UK ISPs won't do that. They won't even tell users about the possibility of punitive measures. They'll basically just say "hey, someone spotted you doing something, and we think maybe you should knock it off."
The deal has been struck with the BPI, which represents the British music industry, and the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which covers film.

The bodies had originally suggested the letters should tell repeat infringers about possible punitive measures.

They also wanted access to a database of known illegal downloaders, opening the possibility of further legal action against individuals. Continue reading the main story

However, following almost four years of debate between the two sides, the final draft of the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (Vcap) contains neither of those key measures.
Of course, as the BBC article notes, the MPAA/BPI and others wanted much stricter measures, but were unable to get them. And that means this is nothing more than a foot in the door plan. It's easy to make a prediction: when copyright infringement doesn't magically stop, these groups will go running back to the ISPs (and to the UK government) whining about how more "needs to be done."
Within the leaked agreement, one important point: if this system does not have a big effect on piracy, then rights holders will call for the "rapid implementation" of the Digital Economy Act, and all the strict measures that come with it.

Steve Kuncewicz, an expert in online and internet law, agreed. He speculated that the deal "may be a Trojan horse exercise in gathering intelligence about how seriously downloaders take threats".

In other words, if it can be shown that asking nicely does not have a significant effect on curbing piracy, rights holders will for the first time have a seriously credible set of data with which to apply pressure for harder enforcement on those who simply do not want to pay for entertainment.
I would question the "seriously credible set of data." Showing that asking nicely doesn't stop infringement doesn't mean that suddenly pulling out the big ban hammer will actually stop infringement. At this point there's plenty of "seriously credible data" that tougher laws don't stop infringement (or, at least, if they do short term, it doesn't last very long). But, you know, to the big copyright lobbyists, greater enforcement is the only hammer they know. Actually providing consumers with what they want is a concept that they don't spend any time exploring.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Duke (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 3:23pm

    I can't help but wonder...

    Who is going to cover the millions the UK Government spent working on the statutory scheme?

    And who gets to decide what goes into the "educational" letters; at least with the statutory scheme there was some oversight of both the content of the letters and the evidence-gathering process, now we have neither.

    So for 75k a year the BPI gets to send propaganda to millions of people. Money which I imagine will come out of the artists' and writers' shares of sales. And ISP subscribers have to cover the other 25%. And the general public gets screwed for the millions already spent setting this up.

    All on the back of no evidence.

    And to top it all, this week we find out that - due to pressure from the UK music publishers (and friends), we won't be getting some of the key new copyright exceptions any time soon. They were supposed to happen at the beginning of next month, but now it may be October, if ever.

    How did these people get so powerful?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2014 @ 3:57pm

    Every time an *AA whines about infringement, I download a file.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2014 @ 4:06pm

    So when the MPAA/BPI whine and moan about the increasing numbers of letters/notices being sent out to users I wonder what they will say about it because after all the site blocking that they so applaud insiting that it works will certainly be showing them and the public that site blocking doesn't work when the numbers of letters/notices being sent out keeps on increasing.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 4:17pm

      Re:

      You give them far too much credit. To them, if one of their demands/ideas doesn't solve the problem that's not because their idea is faulty, it's because it's not been cranked up enough yet.

      They're the kinda people who would fight a fire by throwing gasoline on it, and after seeing that fail spectacularly, rather than trying something else like water, they'd instead claim that their failure means they just hadn't used enough gasoline.

      And of course if anyone tried to help by suggesting some other, better way to fight the fire, they'd just call that person a 'fire-apologist' and keep right on dumping the gasoline into the blaze.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2014 @ 5:14pm

        Re: Re:

        I am doing the opposite of giving them credit. I am showing how hypocritical they are when they keep on insisting that site site blocking is effective despite the evidence of increasing letters/notices being sent out that shows that file sharing continues and thus showing that site blocking is as much as a chocolate fireguard. Yes, they will ignore the fact site blocking doesn't work whatever the evidence shown to them and will continue to insist that site blocking works and will no doubt call for tougher action to combat file sharing which will be further evidence that site blocking doesn't work being as if site blocking did work then there would be no need for further action to occur as the site blocking would have been enough.

         

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          That One Guy (profile), May 10th, 2014 @ 6:15pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Alright, now I get where you're going with that, you're right, they can't have it both ways, defending site blocking by claiming that it's effective at decreasing piracy rates, while at the same time using the fact that piracy rates aren't dropping to then insist on another 'anti-piracy' scheme be put in place on top of the ones they've already demanded.

          One argument nullifies the other.

          ... of course, to admit that would require them and their pet politicians to be reasonable, and be willing to look at all the facts, not just the handful they use, so as logical as your point is, it's something they wouldn't even see as remotely relevant, since as I noted, to them, if their actions haven't worked, it just means they need to do the same stuff but more of it.

           

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    That One Guy (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 4:08pm

    Well, going off of the past 'accuracy' of such schemes, where they couldn't find an actual infringer if one was right in front of them, I'm going to guess that piracy rates will not decrease after this 'voluntary' plan is put into effect, for the simple reason that no pirates will ever be on the receiving end of the 'notices'.

    Still, I'd guess that would be exactly how they want it, they don't want this plan to work, so that when it fails, they can go back to the government and get them to force the ISP's to implement all those extras they got slapped down on before.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2014 @ 12:07am

      Re:

      I think you hit the nail on the head.

      From this BBC article on the subject:

      "In the agreement, it states that an ineffective system would lead rights holders to call for "rapid implementation" of stronger measures as outlined in the Digital Economy Act."

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2014 @ 4:28pm

    i'm curious as to how this is gonna work. i read a couple of weeks ago that data retention was deemed illegal in the EU. as the UK is a member of the EU, how are ISPs gonna be able to retain this data and then pass it to a third party without falling foul of the law? then you have the cost to the entertainment industries. the whole idea is definitely about control because the industries have to pay a lot of money to get this into being. if it were about anything else, with the industries being as tight as a nun's chuff unless forced to pay out, what else can it be? on top of that, with governments everywhere doing whatever they can to help the industries, what is in it for them other than perhaps being able to have access to the data the industries think they are going to have. that would allow surveillance by GCHQ and NSA to carry on without the kick back of illegal spying. any other thoughts?

     

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    Anonymous Cowherd, May 10th, 2014 @ 2:03am

    "Hey, someone spotted you doing something, and we think maybe you should cover your tracks better."

     

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    Richard (profile), May 10th, 2014 @ 3:04am

    How's about

    From the linked article

    letters sent to suspected infringers must be "educational" in tone, "promoting an increase in awareness" of legal downloading services.

    Why not instead send a letter to the ..AA's that is "educational" in tone, "promoting an increase in awareness" of ways to make money without being affected negatively by piracy.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), May 10th, 2014 @ 11:19am

      Re: How's about

      You missed the best part of that bit:

      '...letters sent to suspected infringers must be "educational" in tone, "promoting an increase in awareness" of legal downloading services.'

      All of which suck. One of the main reasons so many people pirate is because those 'legal downloading services' either flat out don't exists in their area, or are absolutely terrible, offering barely a fraction of what people are looking for, often at high prices, and with a ton of restrictions on accessing the content.

       

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        Richard (profile), May 10th, 2014 @ 2:33pm

        Re: Re: How's about

        edr yes - that was what I was suggesting - that the entertainment industry are the ones that are in need of education.

         

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          That One Guy (profile), May 10th, 2014 @ 4:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: How's about

          Ah, now I see where you were going with that. Yeah, they could really use some education, though given they've been fighting just that for decades now, I'd say actually getting them to learn the lessons right in front of them would be quite the uphill battle.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, May 11th, 2014 @ 2:43am

        Re: Re: How's about

        If only there had been a method in the past 20 years for people to come to such a claimed consensus.

         

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    Anonymous Howard (profile), May 10th, 2014 @ 6:07am

    Serious set of data

    "seriously credible set of data."

    Based on untried accusations by copyright holders.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 10th, 2014 @ 6:17am

    As I suggested elsewhere, it would be easy to get this to stop by spoofing IPs for the top levels who want to push this forward. One could then ask why those in power aren't being cut off like the little people.

    Perhaps they should just set up a counter that ticks up everytime they imagine infringement happened (because these systems are far from perfect) and start to understand that the download is costing them money... but not how they think. Money they could have earned is being lost because they refuse to participate in the market. That all of the time and money they keep using to repeat the failed experiments over and over could have built a real market that meets consumer demands.

    Why is these industries allowed to avoid the harsh reality that they are dinosaurs? Why must others keep propping up a business model that would have collapsed or adapted years ago without the Gov meddling to keep the ancient system running.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2014 @ 8:57am

    Arr mateys

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2014 @ 9:37am

    donkey meet carrot

     

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    Dave, May 10th, 2014 @ 10:52am

    Pretty please

    This is nothing new. Happened to me many years ago when I first got on line, with my ISP threatening doom, gloom, pestilence and famine to go with their accusations of downloading. I told them the same as I would tell ANY ISP these days - that, in my opinion, it's not the job of an ISP to police what their customers use their services for. They'll be telling me what make and model of computer to use next.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2014 @ 8:00pm

    The Silver Lining

    In all this is look at the opportunities for parody. Some astute online comedian could play this for so much embarrassing humour and farcical overkill just like Monty Python or the Carry On gang did back in the 60's.

    I look forward to seeing the Evil British Overlords of Musical and Media copyright being depicted waterboarding poor, average joes strapped into the deadly, comfy chair of doom and being interrogated by the BBC's infamous kamikaze bagpipers of Brigadoon.

     

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    Claire Rand, May 11th, 2014 @ 10:24am

    on the other hand

    I'm actually for this, for now at least, it *may* get a few people using official sites, perhaps no bad thing. Especially as this is lacking the 'stick' element.

    Depends how the letters are written, which depends _who_ writes them I guess.

    However it has a single *massive* plus point. It will make a lot more people realise that the internet is watched, tracked, everything they do is traced, with luck it will raise awareness of encryption and security more generally.

    I do hope someone at GCHQ sends someone at the BPI, MPA, MPAA, R. Ass. America etc a nice bunch of flowers for highlighting the way the net is watched and encouraging encryption. You see just occasionally a government does something where the unintended consequence has a useful side.

    Perhaps..

     

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    Seegras (profile), May 12th, 2014 @ 4:41am

    Notifying customers...

    Actually, this is nearly what most ISPs hereabouts have been doing for many years.

    Somebody claims some customer violated somebodies copyright? Forward it to the customer in question.

    If the customer really did, he'll probably take the infringing content down, or stop filesharing, if he didn't he can contact the accuser himself he tell him what he thinks.

    Usually, there is absolutely no need to get law enforcement involved, unless one party insists stubbornly on something it should not.

     

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    me@me.net, May 12th, 2014 @ 5:17am

    and by all means lets forget

    About the assclown stupidity of an entire industry effectively declaring war on it's customer base. Especially since they produce nothing but homogenized shlock anyway.

     

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