back to article Ofcom gets power to punish pirates

Ofcom will get legal powers to impose an array of technical restrictions on ISPs who are unable to reduce illegal filesharing on their networks under plans unveiled by the government. Lord Carter's final report on Digital Britain, published this afternoon, stops short of mandating a mechanism for persistent copyright …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More plastic police

    So the rules are .... whatever Ofcom decides they are.... and they will be enforced by civil contract, because if there was a law for it, then that law would have to abide by the fundamental rights, like evidence and such. And this nicely sidesteps the requirement for laws to be fair by being civil contracts.

    Well f*** you Brown.

    Ofcom is a £136 million a year non governmental quango, run by Ed Richards, an Ex Blair communications director and consultant to Gordon Brown. It's choices are outside the legal basis for government, it's setup, as a non governmental organisation means it can happily employ politicians and political stoolies and it should be closed down and regulator brought back within Government and under Parliament and under law.

    There is no way a regulator should be wasting that kind of budget and this attempt to expand it's role, and use a civil contract to force stuff onto ISPs that you cannot directly require by law because such a law would be unfair.

    I am sick of seeing Parliament's lawmaking powers taken away and stuffed under a private company full of Blairites, who make their own rules answerable to no one and tax industry like a government body swimming in cash.

  3. frank ly


    I have an idea, but am not sure if it will work from a practical or legal standpoint - please advise.

    Put a few Linux distros on your PC, then put them up for sharing on bit-torrent or wherever. Make sure they are correctly described as Linux distros in the summary/metadata area but give them names like Dark Knight, Slumdog Millionaire, Britney Spears Greatest Hits, etc. Take part in sharing with other people doing the same thing and set your download/upload rate to the minimum (don't want to use up much bandwidth doing this).

    When the ISP writes to you, you send a simple and polite reply denying that you are sharing copyright material; keep doing this. When you get disconnected and taken to court, sue the ISP for whatever and sue the rights holders for libel. Could this work?

  4. TimNevins

    One rule for them..

    .. and one for us.

    When BT carried out illegal data collection with Phorm OFCOM/Govt were nowhere to be seen.

    However when it comes to applying pressure to the populace they cant get in quick enough.

  5. Bug

    How will anyone notice

    Talk of throttling the internet for persistent pirates, the ISPs already throttle most of the traffic even when it's fully legal.

    Virgin is a nightmare. Download 400mb between 3pm and midnight and get throttled by 75% of both up and download speed. That's less than downloading one single episode of Top Gear from the iPlayer.

    How about Ofcom getting/using some power to reign in the various movie/music groups that seem to think that they have the right to accuse anyone and have that person punished without any independent checking or even any proof, sending out malicious letters demanding money with threats to all and sundry, etc, etc.

  6. Steve Kay

    How to measure the unmeasurable?

    I hope the metrics, measures, and indicators for this "70% reduction" are very clearly defined.

    Ben Goldacre has a wonderful write up of the content industries' feeble grasp of maths and statistics at, and I fear that it will only get woollier.

    70% of connections?

    70% of data packets?

    70% of a specific protocol traffic?

    70% of customers?

    70% of a specific file?

    Given that there is no way of determining whether a connection / session is "infringing" or not (thanks to reasonable privacy expectations, https, ipsec, ssh, etc etc), is this going to be a "low hanging fruit crapshoot"?

    Within 3 years everyone will have migrated to scrambled traffic anyway, given the current state of affairs.

    I can't see how this is ever going to work.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "port blocking, protocol blocking, URL and IP address blocking, bandwidth capping, bandwidth shaping and filtering of specific content as sanctions"

    Hope he didn't forget anything, the twat!

  8. Watashi

    You hear that, Mr Anderson?

    At the moment we have a situation where the UK government can control what we download only because the internet has to be routed through controllable organisations. Your IP identifies you, but your IP can only be linked back to you personally because ISPs are needed to connect your computer to the internet. All that is needed is for someone to come up with a way of accessing the internet without having to get an IP from a UK based ISP and the whole anti file-sharing system becomes meaningless.

    Mesh networking (ie a distributed, multi-nodal network without ISP type connection points) offers one realistic short-term alternative. How long before someone develops an app for a Wi-Fi enabled phone that acts as an automated non-internet file sharer? It will work like this: if you and another phone with the app are within 100m, the two phones automatically connect and exchange all the music files held on those phones. The file sharers have to do nothing as the sharing is passive, and no-one can tell it's happening except the two owners of the phones. This could work with home wireless routers too - I can visualise Chinese companies working on new Wi-Fi routers that can do the same thing. Simply set up a sandboxed sharing area on a NAS drive that users can 'accidentally' leave open to read-only visits, and then you and all your neighbours have access to each others' music libraries.

    Combined with the government's stance on pron, it could well be that this new form of regulation is enough motivation for the key players in technological innovation (young, well educated men with plenty of disposable income) to move away from the traditional ISP connected internet model. Once that happens, we may all decide it's easier to cut out the middle man and go ISP free. Then the government will have to return to the old days of planting moles in social networks (like the anti-Union government activities of the seventies and eighties) to find out what folk are up to.

    I can't help but feel that file-sharing is inevitable. We may be able to limit it for a short period of time, but technological innovation will come up with a new method that can't be regulated with the new rules. Surely there's a more sensible attitude than starting a US anti-drugs style 'war on file-sharing' which simply glorifies the 'subversive' act of sharing music amongst the very demographic most active in file sharing and most likely to be able to bypass the regulations anyway.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Lord Carter's final report on Digital Britain, published this afternoon, stops short of mandating a mechanism for persistent copyright infringers to be disconnected, but does suggest port blocking, protocol blocking, URL and IP address blocking, bandwidth capping bandwidth shaping and filtering of specific content as sanctions.

    So they want to filter web traffic. And limit bandwith. Dont ISP's do that after you use 3GB anyway....

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I can't believe that we as a country are going to allow people to lose a service they have paid for without having to provide hard evidence that would stand up in a court of law.

    If I've broken the law and you want to take my s--- away you best be able to prove it or you can f--- right off.

    This person uses bittorrent isn't evidence, we saw this ip address isn't evidence unless you can prove you connected to it and you received data from it and you can prove you're protecting the rights related to that data, seeing an IP address on a tracker isn't evidence as it's pretty easy to just add fake addresses to trackers.

    Of course I expect that the government will pass some law making evidence unnecessary, I wouldn't be suprised if they already have.

    I don't exactly use Bit torrent for the most innocent of reasons (downloading fansubs of anime just released and j-drama is far easier then never seeing it or waiting 10 years for it getting released by a US Company and having to import it) however I doubt I'm at much risk - and hell even if I were there's plenty on IRC and PerfectDark.

    But I'm caught up on this evidence thing, it grinds my gears.

  11. Kajiki
    Thumb Down


    So is Ofcom going to grow a pair and tackle the ISPs that advertise "unlimited" net access?

    No, didn't think so.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rock, Paper, Scissors

    Carter: Rights holders report file sharers, send letters

    Pirates: USENET, VPN, Darknets

    Pirates win, your move Carter.

    The thing that makes me laugh most is that even if they did manage to stop file sharing these industries like the music industry think it's somehow going to allow them to boost their profits.

    People pirate because they don't have the money to buy 100 tracks a month, they may have enough for 10 tracks, but they buy those anyway. Preventing piracy wont suddenly make people rich enough to buy all the tracks they otherwise downloaded.

    Then of course there's the issue you can't prove someone is guilty of file sharing without actually physically witnessing them do it. You can at best link infringement to an IP but then you can link a car to a hit and run but it doesn't mean the owner was driving it at the time and it wasn't nicked. Apparently the hundreds of years old right to innocent until proven guilty doesn't apply if the music industry throws a big enough hissy fit though.

    Can we please stop putting 40yr+ old idiots in charge of our future when by far the majority of that generation simply don't have a fucking clue about the internet and why their proposals don't work? Can we get some people from a generation that actually understands it to solve problems they're much better placed to solve? Not everyone 40+ is inept of course, Tim Berners-Lee would be a great choice, but the point is we've got a generation and class of people trying to solve a problem they don't have the first clue about.

    You wouldn't expect bin men to find a cure for cancer or plan a manned mission to mars so why the fuck do MPs and the likes of Carter think they're fit to determine the UK's broadband future? Most MPs are only MPs because they're too shit to work in private sector and wouldn't last 5 minutes so quite why they think they're fit enough to solve complex problems important to our country's future I have no idea.

  13. david bates


    "does suggest port blocking, protocol blocking, URL and IP address blocking, bandwidth capping bandwidth shaping and filtering of specific content as sanctions"

    How will anyone using BT/Virgin et al actually notice the difference?

  14. dervheid


    We'll have the 'rights holders' pretty much acting as police, judge and jury on the decision of "illegal file sharing" shall we?

    That sounds like a nice system, with all the appropriate checks and balances then, doesn't it?

    You're right. It doesn't.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Oh really ?

    OFCOM, learn the following , you will be hearing it an awful lot

    YARRRRR !!!

  16. night troll

    Write and then sue' approach won't work?

    "Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, which represents labels said the government was dithering. "Evidence shows that the government's 'write and then sue' approach won't work," he said."

    So the the various music ASS "sue the world" approach does work?

    Maybe that's their new busness model, forget the production of music and entertainment, just sue the world for any and everything and make a profit that way. Twonts!

  17. Ian Court

    Just bear in mind...

    ..that today's most prolific young downloaders will probably become tomorrow's music artists/film directors/politicians.

  18. Turbojerry

    Carter helps repressive governments

    What about people using Tor / Freenet / I2P2 etc to help people in countries with repressive governments circumvent their Internet restrictions, if their connection is used to share a copyrighted file will they be restricted to? What about people with WiFi with no encryption? Or cracked WEP? Or paid for with a cloned CC? Or using a web torrent service, will mere use indicate a copyright violation? Or being part of a botnet? Who is allowed to make a copyright complaint? Can I send them my noisy neighbours IP address and create a legal DOS attack? Or maybe against a company I don't like?

    If this goes through it will destroy so much and gain very little as I would suspect anyone filesharing with even a tiny bit of knowledge will either use an anonymous proxy / Usenet / web torrent download service etc and therefore will not be caught, in other words, epic fail.

  19. Paul Burke
    Thumb Down

    So does this work for snail mail?

    I'm concerned that some people are using Royal Mail for illegal or nefarious purposes, even perhaps sending copies of CDs or other such malfeasance. Perhaps every "packet" should be inspected, just to see, and so we can notify illegal users of the service and have their letterboxes nailed up. Or perhaps just shrunk a bit - maybe we break one of their postmen's bike wheels or something, you know, slow the service down. That'll stop 'em.

    If I can't have a reasonable expectation of privacy of data I send via the internet, I don't see why I should expect greater privacy through a more traditional method of data transfer, or why the current government types think there should be a difference between the two.

  20. Happy Skeptic

    Medieval 'justice' system

    Ah the old accuse-them-3-times and they're guilty system. The French government tried to go through the normal procedures and make an actual law to create this. Unfortunately it conflicted with silly old laws from 1789 or somesuch time about 'innocent until proven guilty' and evidence and due process. Now the British government has found a way around this - avoid legislation and simply create an environment where the flimsy made-up evidence can be used by wealthy people and corporations to threaten ordinary people.

    Funny thing is they only sales that will increase because of it are Pirate Bay's new VPN service, at 5 Euros/dollars/whatever a month for peace-of-mind from this kind of bullshit it's destined to be the most popular internet service since, well, the internet itself.

  21. mmiied

    @frank ly

    won't work

    mainly cos the music industry might be very stupid are not total idiots they actuality download the contents of a torrent and check it is there copyright before they send out letters that part there lawyers know about the rest of the net they are clueless about but that bit they know to check

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Ravenwood and the British Government Welcomes You their Internets

  23. Anonymous Coward

    I can't believe the stupidity of this proposal.

    I'm just glad its only a proposal and not fact as the mis-leading title suggests, "Ofcom gets" implies they have it.

    They don't...

    What can be done about it?

  24. alistair millington
    Thumb Down

    I love OFCOM

    They make a mockery of the 0845 numbers and anything they want to be charged locally or for free phone numbers. So now we all pay massive amounts of cash to every number they set up to be free.

    They make an absolute pigs ear of the mobile communications and roaming charges,

    They screwed over the broadband market for actually saying what it is they sell.

    All of which actually is important and won't go away.

    So now they want to take the p**s with every legitimate bradband user that uses filesharing. No evidence just their whim that says they are right.

    Instead they target a technically savvy group of people that will simply side step them, curing nothing and furthering the problem.

  25. Jaymeister


    Shouldn't it be that rights holders have to complain to the police who then perform a full investigation to prove that they're not talking a load of crap, THEN it gets passed to ISP's who can send out the nastygrams or otherwise make the users internet connection not worth having?

    As it stands, it's a case of the rights holders being able to cause trouble for anyone they want as and when they want just by having a whinge at their ISP. way to go to give the music/film/whatever industry an easy way to harrass the general public rather than insisting they fix their broken distribution mechanisms and learn how to interact with modern society.

    Seriously, of the ways to reduce piracy, here's a few:

    a) Make content easily affordable and readily available WITHOUT any retarded restrictions on use or requirements for specialist software/hardware.

    b) Simultaneous global releases. I dare say few people in another market area are going to wait the extra month for it to reach them, they'll just pirate it. This is especially true given most distribution technologies include regioning so you can't even play it back in another market area. Technologies that the pirated copies do not include.

    c) Stop treating the customer as a criminal until proven otherwise, it only creates resentment that results in people thinking along the lines of "I'm not paying those scumbags! They don't deserve it!".

    Also, when will the government and rights agencies learn that internet connections are NOT representative of a single user, they represent a whole household. This means that applying restrictions to a connection is not punishing the intended target alone, but also those who are innocent (until proven otherwise) who they live with. How is this acceptable? You don't send an entire family to prison because one of them stole something, so why send them all back to the dark ages before the internet became useful?


    For the record, I don't support piracy. I buy stuff, perhaps stupidly since the pirates get better quality and less restrictions for free.

  26. Doug Glass

    Huh? What'd I Miss?

    Did the recording industry buy OFCOM?

  27. g e

    Did I read this right...

    "Carter said today he had been persuaded by the content industries that the government had to act to force ISPs reduce illegal filesharing."

    So, a new house for Carter, then, no doubt. I wonder if that'll end up published in some newspaper from an expenses/remuneration leak.

    Use encrypted connections for everything.

    @Doug Glass

    "Did the recording industry buy OFCOM?"

    I think we just found the answer.

    I haven't bought a CD or a movie in years that wasn't in a secondhand store or a bargain bin. The only thing I'll pay retail for is games because I know I'm going to get at least a minimum of real entertainment from it which makes it worth the (far greater, too) money. Fourteen quid for a dogturd like Spidey3 or thirty-five quid for Assassin's Creed2 ("Animus"?). SUCH a simple choice.

    Plus (get this Rec.Ind. tards if you're reading)... the money I save not buying Rec.Ind. bullshit PAYS FOR THE GAME. Thank you Recording (and Movie) Industry, I just realised your behaviour supports my occasional gaming retail therapy. Maybe I like you after all.

  28. Tony Paulazzo

    ...full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

    Seems more like a get out clause, as in, 'look, we're doing something.' First letter I get I'm taking the ISP to small claims court for false accusation (as in filesharing 'copyright' material), since, I'm assuming, they will have to produce facts to support their accusation, and I will produce a HDD full of Linux distros.

    Wankers. The lot of 'em. That is all.

  29. EvilGav 1

    It's . . .

    . . . innocent UNLESS proven guilty.

    Until suggests that you are innocent, but they'll get you for something (though, admittedly, this does seem to be the route the current government is going for).

  30. Anonymous Coward


    Just use IPREDATOR or similar. Even just enabling encryption on your torrents is safe enough (remember to set it to reject unencrypted connections).

  31. mmiied


    enabling encryption on your torrents will not work it dose not hide your ip address see my previous post for how I think they are going to try to monitor it

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Screw this! :)

    I'm going with a small provider then, the kind that don't have budgets for monitoring/traffic shaping equipment...

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