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October 19, 2009

Internet service provider fights copyright law

Posted: 08:39 AM ET

A proposed law could force UK Internet service providers to disconnect users who repeatedly share copyrighted files, but TalkTalk, a British ISP, doesn't want to become a copyright cop.

UK Internet service provider TalkTalk CEO Charles Dunstone

UK Internet service provider TalkTalk CEO Charles Dunstone

TalkTalk's CEO Charles Dunstone is openly critical of legislation that will force ISPs to disconnect a user if their IP address is connected to illegal downloads:

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.

A recent demonstration by the ISP highlights cracks in the proposed legislation. For the stunt, TalkTalk sent a security expert into the streets of Stanmore, Middlesex to connect to open or easily hacked WEP-secured wireless networks. The expert first obtained permission from the wireless access point owners before connecting and downloading several songs.

While the songs in this demonstration were downloaded legally, the stunt shows just how easily an innocent account holder could be targeted based on evidence collected from their IP address.

However, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) claims the law will not target innocents. BPI spokesman Adam Liversage says, "The responsibility for ensuring that an internet account shared throughout a household is not being used for illegal file-sharing clearly lies with the account holder."

What do you think? Are hacking victims or those who choose to openly share their wireless network responsible for third-party illegal file-sharing? And should ISPs like TalkTalk be required to police their networks and report illegal activity?

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Filed under: file sharing • Internet • online news • piracy


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ortizimo   October 19th, 2009 12:00 pm ET

I'm a PC tech and IT security expert and I can tell you there's no way a person with minimal or basic computer knowledge can succesfully "lock" a router. Around 85% or more of my customers have no idea this option was available to them and thus someone is always riding on their bandwidth from accross the street or next door. Good luck with this law!


Richp   October 19th, 2009 12:38 pm ET

Get lawyers and politicians involved in the internet and you have the equivalent of a monkey trying to mount a basketball as it rolls down a flight of steps. The steps ignore it, the basket ball ignores it and the monkey just gets frustrated. Total waste of time.


Sean   October 19th, 2009 1:38 pm ET

This is just another ignorant attempt by big media reps to squeeze the little guy. Somehow they are going to make money out of this; if you buy the line they will not punish innocents then you are naive. I read just recently a story of a grandparent the media reps here in the states were trying to hold responsible and squeeze money out of for their grandson's illegal downloading.

These people are lucky to get on the internet without someone holding their hands in many cases. Expecting them to secure their own wireless networks is foolish and companies know it won't happen. They will use it to squeeze a few thousand dollars out of them as is the common tactic of the RIAA and MPAA bullies here in the states. Meanwhile the true pirates will continue releasing their good and always being one step ahead of the people supposedly so bent on catching them.

Even if these people knew how to secure their wireless networks it has been shown time and again the methods for "securing" networks fall with time. Why do you think we no longer use WEP or WPA? They were hacked so a stronger security method was necessary and I wouldn't be surprised to find out those methods were hacked already too. It is like taking guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens in the name of stopping gun crimes; the people who commit crimes DO NOT follow the law so more laws are just more laws for them to ignore. Use the laws already on the books. Their interest is to get rid of guns however NOT to stop gun crimes; that is just a smoke screen. Here, judging by continued actions of the RIAA and MPAA, their real agenda is to squeeze extra cash out of mom and pop who can't fight back because they lack the money to do so.


Zachary   October 19th, 2009 1:43 pm ET

Frankly, this subject has been open to the cyber world and the real world for that matter for years. Differing policies on file sharing and internet use in different countries makes the solution almost impossible to solve. For example: Multiple American companies have constantly emailed the famous Torrent tracker "PirateBay" to take their pirated product off, which the famous website refused to do based on their own laws, and how the U.S. had no authority to enforce their copyright laws in the websites home country.
This is just one more waypoint in the long agonizing road of dealing with pirated media.


Derik   October 19th, 2009 1:59 pm ET

BPI admits that the law penalizes the account holder, not the offender.
Account holder A doesn't secure his wireless connection, neighbor kid B uses it to download songs– Account holder A gets their account suspended?

Do they have recourse? Or will this be liek the french law that bans peopel from the internet? When your provider has banned you, are you allowed to sign up with a different one, or have you been blacklisted?

Not that this ISN'T a completely irrelevant conversation, since the systems involved will adopt obfuscating technologies that make enforcement nearly impossible within weeks of the bill going online... but I'm curious to just HOW badly thought-out the law is.

(This is what happens when lobbyists write laws lawmakers don't understand.)


nina   October 19th, 2009 2:02 pm ET

ISP providers are not law enforcement – they are service providers and they are not providing any service by throttling traffic or reporting their clients to police.

Funny how major chain stores are now carrying bootleg cds and DVDs and this isn't being cracked down on – or when did that become okay just because the consumer is paying for it – even when the manufacturer has no right to sell it?


Jose   October 19th, 2009 2:52 pm ET

This is another dumb decision that no ISP could do. Look at why the people use the internet. Even if you go to youtube you have many free programs that lets you download the sound of some clips. So if you get one of those songs (since youtube doesn´t have any responsability if i get a music from a videoclip before the music industry asks them to remove the music).
The problem is that themusic industry was getting billions in profits and now they have many things that show that they were getting those massive profits. And even with that, any new groups needs to pay to record a music. Not talking that 99% of the price of a cd is for the recording industry. The remaining 1% is the money for the artist and the selling stores.


Kitanai   October 19th, 2009 3:01 pm ET

A law similar to this was nearly introduced at NZ – we had a government change and thank god they scrapped it when they got in.

My issue here is that I live in a flat, and we share an internet connection. How exactly do I police all the traffic on our network? Am I meant to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment and still not be 100% sure I won't get cut off?

What about when we have friends to visit? Do I stop letting friends use my WiFi in case they have a torrent client installed?

In the case where I'm sure nobody that's been given legitimate access to the network has downloaded, can I then go to the police and file a report claiming that my WiFi was stolen? Would that prevent disconnection?

The complexity of the situations here shows that our existing laws and lawmakers are insufficient to deal with the idea of ones and zeros. What's really needed is a business model that makes content so cheap the majority of us don't want to pirate any more.


Devanite   October 19th, 2009 3:55 pm ET

Could someone please hack the Media conglomerates internet connection, use it to illegally download songs, and then disconnect them from the internet because they are clearly the ones responsible!


Clif Brunstetter   October 19th, 2009 3:56 pm ET

Why don't we really grind everything to a halt, and call for digital signature for accessing and seeing any and all registered, copywritten, or patented data?

Why only Music? Are we only absurd in regards to music? We want to allow the legal music downloads, but stop any illegal. So what if those poor photographers can't afford bigshot lawyers. Do we care if anyone steals literary works, or how about pictures and plans?

Why don't we realize the model is flawed, and the BPI and RIAA need to align to societal norm. Most downloads contain some sort of unreleased proprietary format. Therefore, by the standard requested, all accounts should be frozen.

Gives a whole new meaning to the world wide wait...


Nathaniel   October 19th, 2009 8:10 pm ET

That law is stupid on so many levels.


Franko   October 20th, 2009 1:09 pm ET

For your protection, the government needs to monitor and control.
Otherwise, the wicked will rule Earth
There will be anarchy, terrorism, corruption, child porn,and drunkenness


Erroneous   October 20th, 2009 3:45 pm ET

@Franko: NOOOOOOOO, not drunkenness!!! God forbid!
....To the rest, this situation highlights our ever-evolving business climate. The music industry is changing before our eyes. Record labels will be useless or will need to refocus to remain profitable/relevant. When the tide changes, change with it instead of whining and threatening.
Give the music away! Fans will pay for other merchandise, special packaging/limited edition releases and will still go see the concerts. There is still plenty of revenue to grab here, folks. Companies will need to be nimble in changing to profit from the new structure.


Brittany   October 21st, 2009 12:22 am ET

In my opinion this is a total waste of time, because not a lot of people are aware of locking their internet connection. Someone could be using their internet connection making illegal downloads on it, and they would not even know and for them to assume responsibility for it and be punished is not fair. If the government wants to do anything they should first enforce people locking the internet connection. This a problem that everyone has been dealing with and should be taken care of the in a sensible way. The government will never actually catch who is doing this.


Thomas   October 21st, 2009 12:42 am ET

I am with "ortizimo" good luck with this law.Sounds to me like the RIAA the BPI has gotten to comfortable with selling junk one hit wonders and making a ton of cash and now that cash is gone.Both of these groups BPI and its USA conterpart, can fight this fight,but we need to remind them that,there are more of us less of them.Yes the will get a few,but not nearly enough people in their little fishing nets.I would also like to remind them that on the American side at least,the groups meant to enforce the "copyright"laws have real criminals to catch terrorists and such.Even the F.B.I would tell them that,they are less concerned with some 12 year old who stole a Lady Gaga song when they(the F.B.I) are working to bust up some destructive plot to pull another 9/11 on America or its Allies(such as the UK).These groups RIAA and BPI cannot legally watch p2p networks for downloads,even if they offer the songs as bait,this would constitute entrapment in most cases.But then again I am no lawyer...... remember down loaders,scanning your files for track back Trojans is only part of the your defense


Dutchman   October 21st, 2009 8:46 am ET

Yeah, As a CIS major i would say at LEAST 30-40% of people with wireless internet have someone piggybacking off them on a regular basis.


Josh   October 21st, 2009 9:37 am ET

With the introduction of Torrent files, encoding is becoming more and more compex and harder to track. If a massive ban such as this were to occur, then pirates would just find another way to make files even harder to trace. P2P downloading is slowly becoming less popular as technology and threat of viruses become higher. As for making your internet connection completely secure, it is impossible. Even the best of routers have a backdoor or wormhole that can be exploited.


John   October 21st, 2009 12:01 pm ET

"There will be anarchy, terrorism, corruption, child porn,and drunkenness"

Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!


Kane   October 21st, 2009 4:31 pm ET

They have yet to understand that a semi-new approach is necessary to deal with pirating....take away the reason to pirate...easy....yes it is easy. And they could be making even more money than ever...but they just don't understand the "series of tubes" and are left standing in a bunch of trees (that the rest of us might call a forest). Creative people could be making a fortune if the business folks only understood.


James   October 21st, 2009 5:47 pm ET

I miss the old internet, the wild wild west. All the free chat rooms, now gone due to government interferance. I have a great idea instead of all these new rules government controll and such , everyone just make sure their computers are protected , their children watched while they play online, and leave everyone else alone.


Eric Roberts   October 21st, 2009 11:11 pm ET

We see the same tired old line here in the states. Maybe if record companies woulod stop fleecing the artists and encourage groups to put out quality music rather than churn out crap to make thier contractual agreements, I might have more sympathy for them. They aren't looking out for the artist's best interests...that is a complete line of BS...they are only looking out for thier bottom line. the internet and P2P sharing has made them obsolete. band sho9uld unite and stop using record companies to sell thier songs. Sell them online and tell the record companies to go bugger off. The record companies on the other hand, should embrace the new technology, rahter than try to demonize it like they did with cassettes and later with CD's and DVD's when they became writeable. Who wants to buy a whole CD for 1 good song when they can just download it? The only think holding back record company profits is crappy formula bands putting equally crappy music.


eric   October 22nd, 2009 2:09 am ET

Has piracy done any real noticeable damage to the entertainment industry? Lil Wayne still has his $200k watch. Brad Pitt still has his mansions. The only people who are getting robbed are the consumers. The should thank us for downloading free stuff so we can save money or else the recession would happen sooner, hit harder, and last much longer. Long live thepiratebay.org. the pirate bay. org.


Fg Michel   October 22nd, 2009 4:18 am ET

Do they realize that it will only bring a new kind of internet; an internet without ISP. I for one believe it's on its way already.
Every device with a wifi is a potential relay to another wifi device and they becoming more and more powerful. Connect them all and you have a new internet and no ISPs.
How would you control that?


Charlie   October 22nd, 2009 5:53 pm ET

Most people will disagree with me on this, but I think internet piracy will breed innovation in a myriad of ways:

First, companies will have to build software that is more efficient than current software at blocking internet content, then pirates will build things to counter this. By products of such innovation, I think, could be used for other situations we may or may not be aware of. It's an evolutionary process and by allowing government intervention, well this negates the process.

Second, companies such as the RIAA will have to compete with "free". Thus, causing them to invent and create reasons for "Why" people should buy their copyrighted material. Right now it is, "ITS THE LAW", but tomorrow it may be "Thank you for purchasing our CD, you have gained accumulated enough Music Points to redeem a ticket to a concert of your choice," (or something similar).

People think of internet piracy or file-sharing as a simple concept of law breaking, they forget to take into consideration the positive evolutionary implications such behaviors may provide.


Adaradrian   October 22nd, 2009 6:35 pm ET

Most of the downloading that is brought up is music. Why not make copyright laws for music apply only to commercial operations? This would mean for an individual it is fine to download a song as long as they are not trying to make money off it.
No this won't kill the music industry it will make it change and shrink. Most labels will go out of buisness and music will more greatly focus on live concerts. The only thing keeping the industry this large are laws paid for by the industry.
The steam engine industry has mostly disappeared and just the same should most of the music industry.
(I for the most part support film and software copyright)


Troy   October 23rd, 2009 12:07 am ET

What big money fails to realize is that torrents and P2P file sharing is just the icing on the cake, tip of the iceberg. It is well known and easy for the average user to use these methods but the more advanced user has many other methods of sharing digital data that can, and will go undetected. If P2P and torrents manage to get shut down then other methods will become more "User Friendly".

Remember what happened when it all started? it was one server hosting the content and got shut down 'easily'. Then we went to P2P and torrents which are more complicated and harder to stop. If big money stops this approach then have fun catching and shutting down the next level.

Internet has stopped companies from ignoring the intelligent and controlling media. People are smart,Intellectual, communicate efficiently and have the ability to get around the closed doors of big money.

You try to think outside the box. We simply destroy it and make a new one. You will not win. Internet and file sharing will not go away. Sorry.


Vignesh   October 24th, 2009 12:53 am ET

It is very easy to hack into home networks. If this was law, I'm betting some hacker would hack into the BPI and get them banned for illegally downloading. WEP can be cracked in 2 minutes. Your neighbor's kid is probably using your wifi at this moment.


Robbie   October 24th, 2009 9:52 pm ET

Just another example of politicians following the will of the wealthy corporations instead of the will of the people.


Steve miller   October 28th, 2009 1:33 pm ET

Fact is, if you make a GOOD QUALITY product – people WILL BUY it.

You can't prove those people downloading these items would have bought the item anyway. All of the loss numbers are false. People have been copying music and movies for decades.

Improve your product – lower your prices – and add incentives.


AGx   November 1st, 2009 8:14 pm ET

The funny thing is, I bet they will still charge you for your full month of service even if they suspend you for 2/3 of it. This is a bad idea that will just piss the consumer off. To make it worse, the ISP's probably cant be forced to report/suspend people. The ones that do report/suspend will probably end up losing buisness to the ones that dont. This is unfortunately a battle that you cant win. What happens if someone does it at their buisness? You going to suspend a buisness account? What if someone at the ISP does it? You going to shut yourself down? Hypothetical thats not likely to ever occur but still...


Sagar   June 26th, 2012 12:54 pm ET

Feb07bagge96 @cooldude8998 u know yeah i do and i'm freakin' proud of it.. but sesiruoly an ugly girl voice (i mean wtf?!) have u heard any of his new songs where he actually have hit the puberty? no i don't think so, (sean kingston ft. justin bieber won't stop) listen to it, don't just say eeew he's gay or something Listen To It ! much love ~Sabrina!:)♥


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