back to article ISPs slam Digital Economy Bill's multi-million pound price tag

Internet service providers have grumbled that the anti-piracy measures proposed in the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) could cost consumers up to £500m. According to the Times, ISPs have claimed that their subscribers would be saddled with charges of around £25 each to help pay for warning letters, slowed down web connections, and …


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  1. Jacqui

    Virgin sinking/rats leaving

    I telework via virgin and mainly because of cost called up to cancel. They are *desperate* to retain customers and are already asking if the filesharing legislation is a factor in my reason to cancel! The retentions bod I spoke to admitted that this is now a major problem for them.

    My worry is the rumor that BT wholesale are installing DPI on the backbone so providers such as Zen are going to have clients data viewed by third parties irrespective of contract terms. A lot fo my work is under strict NDA terms and the idea that someone could be trying to crack my encrypted VPN connecting is a possibility.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      ...vpn cracking

      ... nope, can't imagine that they will go in for wholescale vpn cracking. They will focus on the 'low hanging fruit' until we are all on vpn, then they will be stuffed.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: ...vpn cracking

        My thoughts entirely. Why is there so much anger here? The copyright avoidance people will simply start encrpyting and the problem (Mandy) will go away, satisfied with the drop in detection statistics.

        I'm already seeing ordinary web-sites (i.e, not banks or shops) just using https as a matter of course. The client support is already there (and completely transparent) and within a year or two the only content the spooks will have access to are mobile telephone calls.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge


          Yeah, but only after the ISP's (and thus us) have had to fork out all this wasted money for nothing

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      so whats new

      Btw already have dpi installed under the 21cn scheme, they already offer ISP's a whole raft of qos measures that would be impossible without it..

      So in the end your traffic is going to be inspected by quite a few people before it gets to its destination.BTw,Your isp, gchq,the list keeps growing, but of course they are only doing this to protect you.....yeah right !!!!

  2. Anonymous Coward


    £500 million cost.

    £1.7 *BILLION* extra in sales.

    Almost three and a half times the cost. Why can't the media industry pay for this in it's entirety?

    1. Paul RND*1000


      ...they're a greedy shower of useless wasters and 500 million quid buys a LOT of coke and hookers?

    2. chr0m4t1c


      Because the "extra sales" figures are made up and almost entirely wishful thinking.

      What they're forgetting is that almost all of the high street media retailers have closed and that a lot of media shopping is done online, so once you cut someone off for illegal filesharing they may not be able to switch to legal alternatives meaning you may make the situation worse.

      Home taping didn't kill music and it doesn't look like filesharing will either.

      Beancounters in charge of the industry on the other hand...

    3. Steve Browne

      I dream of winning the lottery too ...

      Quite where these numbers come from is a mystery to me. Does it presume that each copied file is an actual sale lost, that if the copier could not get a copy on line that they would head down to the local HMV (oh, they closed down) and buy one. Whereas, my view is that if you you do not wish to pay, you either find a free one or go without. If this is closer to the truth (or am I really that exceptional?) then the lost sales figure is approaching a 100% error, ie there are no lost sales at all, and if the file was not available for copying then those wishing to copy it would go without.

      I suppose there is some balance to be achieved here. BUT, surely it must be the responsibility of the music industry to sort out it's own affairs as to how it markets it's products. Clearly, there is huge demand for their product, so why not take advantage of this demand and make sales to people who want to pay? It would be a far better use of resources than attempting to prevent customers from buying their product!

      As a final point, Mandelson does not care at all about the music industry, his legislation is intended to get monitoring equipment installed so that New Labour can continue its expansion of the State into our private lives. He was unable to do it through the front door, now he is trying alternative entrances, nothing new there then I suppose.

  3. Andrew Yeomans

    Madness or bad statistics?

    So the plan is to charge the British consumer £5 billion over ten years in order to pay the entertainment industry £1.7 billion?

    Either madness or bad statistics. Or maybe both.

    (Note the comparison of a yearly figure of costs against a ten-year figure of industry "rewards" to hide the huge discrepancy. And the claimed £500 million sounds about right - the Office for National Statistics lists 18.3 million households, times £25 per year = £475 million. Allow for new subscribers and you get the £500 *per year*.)

  4. David Webb

    Hands up

    Hands up all those businessmen out there who allow bittorrent on work machines so your staff can download, whats that bands name, JLM? JLF? I dunno, that boy band. None of you? Good! Just in case why not you know, set up your router to block P2P.

    I do disagree with this bill though, whats to stop file sharers constantly switching between ISP's costing ISP's a fortune in connection/disconnection charges? Charges which will have to be passed on to consumers. It's totally unworkable and will do nothing to stop file sharers who will just switch on encryption or use a system where their IP is never revealed to the people they are downloading from (as well as whitelists/blacklists)

    1. Martin 6 Silver badge

      Hands up ...

      All of you who ban torrent on work machines - except the boss, and the CFO and a couple of his VP mates who have their own laptops which are crawling with so much crap that the network shudders when they come in.

      These are the same ones that insist on reading their mail over http from every free airport and coffee shop wifi, and don't want to have to remember all those passwords.

      And you better allow them to do what they want - because they pay your wages.

      Then add-in the bosses' kids who are 'working' there over the summer.

      Workers I can deal with - it's the bosses that are the problem.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    That old (nu-labour)chestnut

    Guilty until proven innocent, but in the mean time, were gonna charge you for the privalidge of being an honest citizen. Oh and we'll still keep tabs on you.

    Q: Whats the difference between a guilty UK citizen and an innocent UK citizen?

    A: Correct, there is no difference.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    1700 mill gain over 7 years,cost of 500Mil/year

    GBP1.7 billion gain over 7 years, at a cost of GBP0.5 billion per year. So how is this not a bailout to music execs to maintain there bonuses and punishing lunch schedules of caviare and dope. So in essence this handout is free money. Why not give them the money then license downloads like the radio. Then at least you get something for your bailout.

    Oh, why is legislation only supporting one industry with capital, what about the war vets, even though no one steals from them if you are giving billions away surely you would pick a sector of the community that has actually contributed something?

  7. Tom 35
    Thumb Down

    Government pulls big number from ass...

    "At the same time the government's assessment found that the DEB could plump up £350m in extra tax for the Treasury, as well as bring in around £1.7bn in sales to content owners."

    £1.7bn? The old every download is a lost sale road apple again?

    Free loaders will not buy anything other then a vpn service maybe.

    People who download stuff that's not available in there area as defined by the content owners, can't buy it.

    People who download a TV show, then buy the box set when it's released may not buy the box set if they don't know if it's any good.

    I expect they could increase sales more by allowing anyone to buy from any iTunes site no mater where they live. But the control freaks are not going to go for that.

  8. Wommit
    Thumb Down

    Tax man

    "At the same time the government's assessment found that the DEB could plump up £350m in extra tax for the Treasury"

    And that bit stops all forms of discussion right there.

  9. heyrick Silver badge

    Why oh why oh why oh why...

    Unlawful (not _illegal_) copyright infringement (not _theft_) already has appropriate legal process. Find the sharer, grab the sharer, sue their ass off.

    Why is the government being expected to _criminalise_ copyright infringement, whilst handing us the bill? Has the government been duped/bought, or is this just noise to cover something much more insidious?

    Between you and me, if a music industry inspired action added £25 to my ISP bill, I'd damn well go and find £25 worth of songs to _steal_ to make the unwanted expense worth my while.

    Of course, this presupposes I can actually find that many songs. <google "uk top 40", link to Radio1> Riiight. Silly season. Tell me, is Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" as cheesy as my imagination is telling me it should be? <sigh>

    1. Matthew 25


      Good post. I agree with all of what you said. I am sure there are plenty of nu-lab ministers looking to be directors of record companies in a years time.

      BTW. Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is probably more cheesy than it is possible to imagine... Sorry.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Why

      "Has the government been duped/bought, or is this just noise to cover something much more insidious?"

      I think they are *trying* to be insidious, by building a GCHQ wet-dream, but they couldn't organise the proverbial party at the brewery so the effect will simply be to push everyone into encrypting everything.

      There was a time when encryption was considered a weapons technology. I remember finding that absurd but it now seems more reasonable. Encryption is exactly the sort of "arms" that you'd need to fight off an over-bearing state, as anticipated in the US constitution. (Of course, just in case anyone missed the point, that constitution also guarantees a right to privacy.)

      Come to think of it, Gordon's been talking up the need for a 21st century constitution. Perhaps he could be persuaded to be a little less ambitious and go for an 18th century one instead. It has the added merit of having been tested, which would make it unique amongst NuLab policies. (We'll pass on the "no beer" amendment, btw. It didn't seem to work for you.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Right to Privacy

        The US Constitution doesn't so much guarantee you a right to privacy, as it does limit the Governments power to infringe on your privacy.

        That matters, because it doesn't have anything to say about commercial bodies infringing your privacy. So Government websites can't use tracking cookies, but everyone else can profile you to their hearts content, and then sell that information to whoever wants to buy it.

        European privacy laws generally focus on your right to privacy, rather than limiting the power of government.

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge
      Big Brother


      Well said. I couldn't agree more.

      I used to think "only in America" could politicians be so blatantly bought by big business, but sadly, no longer. What business does Mandy have in government anyway?

  10. Graham 25
    Thumb Down

    So in other terms...

    The government is next going to start asking road builders to pay more money in taxes because people speed on the roads ?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Fock you, Mandy

    This infuriates me to no end.

    Music lovers know the music and movie industries are doing little but make the artists' and consumers' lives difficult by leeching off of both, and it's in everybody's interest for them to disappear. I do NOT want to bail out those industries (their debt is their own fault, not mine), and I most certainly do not want them spying on my internet connection.

    This is an unprecedented violation of privacy, it is despicable and the way it is brought in is completely undemocratic. There are possibly millions of UK citizens out there who are strongly opposed to this proposal, and if the government goes through with it, they are blatantly working against the wishes and interests of their people!

    Methinks Mandy had a good "talking" with Geffen on that yacht in the Mediterranean. That's when he sold this country out.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proceed of crime act

    Wait till they change the proceeds of crime act to let them seize all the assets of anyone 'convicted' of three strikes in the Kangaroo Copyright Court. Then the 1.7 billion will be nothing compared to THAT money making scheme.

    Yet again Labour attacking it's citizens. Or in this case Mandleson, unelected, twice disgraced, Mandleson, a resurrected mudslinger, made a Lord by an unelected leader desperate to hold onto power no matter how he undermines the democracy or destroys the economy.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    The music industry cried foul and insisted on a tax on blank tapes (remember that one?) I thought "sod it, if I have to pay the fine I might as well do the crime"... so if they "tax" my internet connection I'll just make certain I get my £25 worth of free music each year.

  14. JeffShortland

    hey, have you heard of this thing called streaming media?

    Seriously. I don't understand why people view file sharing all that differently, the vast majority of it out there, if we somehow woke up tomorrow and all the torrenting and p2p programs in the world went belly up, we'd just go back to the way we used to do it. Rip it from the radio, pull it from streaming transmission, rent copies and burn them. In Canada, and the US, an unlimited Game/Video rental account at blockbuster is CHEAPER than a decent internet connection. I'll just go rent/rip 1080p across the street. No different than taping from the old VHS.

    Honestly folks, if the powers that be came to me and said "Jeff, we're thinking charging a little more each month, from all our providers, but in exchange, do whatever you want with your connection. download movies, games, music, what have you. We're going to take that money (that little extra) and hand it right over to the Artists and producers that created that content for you." I'd say sure, why the fuck not. It's not like the content isn't going to be moved in that direction eventually anyways. All a bill like this does is validate piracy (if you can call it that), by moral balance - This extra 25$ on my bill is for file sharing, so damn it, I'm going to go get my 25$ worth of media out of it. after all, IVE ALREADY PAID FOR IT.

    Put your content online, make it more accessible, make it free. Free, in case you missed the memo, is the new $9.95.

  15. Prag Fest

    Save the music industry

    Funny, the government didn't seem to give a toss about the mining industry, the ship building industry, the car industry, the aerospace industry...

    Guess their yachts and champagne luncheons just didn't cut it.

    1. Jim Morrow
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Save the music industry

      >>>> Funny, the government didn't seem to give a toss about the mining industry, the ship building >>>> industry, the car industry, the aerospace industry...

      prag fest, it was the tories who fucked these industries. nu labour have fucked whatever was left. as well as fucking everyone who has the misfortune to live here.

      paris icon 'cos she knows a thing or two about getting fucked.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We KNOW why...

    This - of course - has very little to do with law, justice or copyright protection.

    It's about a bent-as-a-9-bob-note government in thrall to a media industry increasingly reliant on restrictive practices to protect their shabby overpriced products. Copyright has already gone from a civil matter to a criminal offence. People who know it's a waste of time phoning police after a burglary or an assault can rest assured that manpower is always available to kick in doors in the early hours whenever media moguls' profits are threatened.

    So who even CARES what the latest exercise costs? Not the politicians - their palms are already heavy with silver. Not the media companies - they're in wish-list heaven. Judges, police and the rest of the Brethren all well on-board. So just the man in the street left to care, I'm afraid. And in New Labour Ripoff-Britain Plc, he just doesn't count.

  17. BonezOz

    Why not just impose an internet tax?

    Paid directly to any and all publishers of IP? This could (should) in essence make all downloading of IP free.

    Let the tax office sort out who it goes too.

  18. Real Ale is Best

    Message Mandelson.

    I suggest you lot head over to the Open Rights Group website, and send Mandy a message:

  19. Tom 106

    Content Owners

    Who is going to be responsible as to how "content owners" are to be defined?

    It would appear that the mainstay of all the chatter is centered around the music industry and Hollywood.

    Yet, what about the owners of web scripts, software applications ect. Who and how will decide if they are to recieve reinbursement from the estimated £1.7billion? And how much will they receive? Will it just be the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, etc who can stake a claim to being compensated?

    This may turn out to be one of the most unfair bills to be ever introduced by parliment, especially if it's only the "big boy corporates" that are to be reinbursed as recognised content owners. Whislt the lesser known content owners (whose scripts, apps, modules, templates etc) are being obtained without payment wont receive any reinbursement.

    Hopefully, more logical sense will be applied and those with real clout will put an end to the DEB.

  20. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

    Is this English?

    " why not you know"

    End of Old Person's rant.

  21. JMB

    ISPs slam Digital Economy Bill's multi-million pound price tag

    I wonder if the music industry would be as keen on this if it was financed by a tax on the music industry rather all the innocent users of the Internet.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Jeff

    "In Canada, and the US, an unlimited Game/Video rental account at blockbuster is CHEAPER than a decent internet connection. I'll just go rent/rip 1080p across the street. No different than taping from the old VHS."

    I have something better than that - the media section of the public library down the street from my work. Plenty of good music and video to be had there without any DRM, P2P or whatever. Not that I'd ever condone piracy of course.

    Prag Fest - this also demonstrates that the government doesn't give a damn about the internet industry, or indeed any high-tech industry in this country. I would hope for a change under the Tories, but unfortunately, their shadow chancellor, Tweedledum to Cameron's Tweedledee, has already been caught on some of the same yachts as Mandy.

    The only hope we have is that the House of Lords will vote down this legislation for the unworkable, unjust piece of shit that it is.

  23. Aqua Guy

    This grinds my gears

    I really am appalled at this Bill which falls down at every stage. So Mandy is supporting a Bill which is contains an Impact Assessment made up of figures so grossly overestimated that any lay person can see it. The £1.7billion in lost revenue the music industry claims is based on an exaggerated price per download (something like £20 each). If you reduce this to £1 a download the lost revenue is £85million, still not chump change but now assume only 80% is listened to or watched and it drops to £68million. This is also supposed to be over 10yrs so this again drops to £6.8million and now we’re getting close to something that could be written off by the companies as a ‘Marketing Expense’ (as there are reports that people who pirate still spend more overall on Media than those who don’t) and of that the lost tax to £1.4million!!!!!

    Added to this the people who download are mostly doing this out of frustration with the current Media industries business models and would act legally if they could find what they wanted at a reasonable price. What’s more the Bills Impact Assessment states that Record companies have to invest a lot is a small number of artists with broad appeal (X-factor anyone) in order to make a return. This is not what people actually want and so the industry is actually acting against diversity and excellence and driving everything towards manufactured mediocrity.

    What is needed is a reduction on internet radio costs, social media websites (modify or combine Facebook and iTunes) where social mechanisms can drive sales, enablers for bands and artists to get there music published at the minimum of cost and to own THEIR music, and the music industry to be hired as an assistant by the musicians.

    What isn’t needed, or permitted as the French found out, is cutting off of the internet which is against our human rights and I don’t see how they could tell I was pirating without snooping in my personal data which is against the data protection act!!! And if this is the case then the technology is already there to get around this.

  24. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Oh but they might go broke...

    Oh but they NEED that "help"... the movie industry might go broke, you know, with those record sales this year and all. Oh wait..

    Yeah, I will be VEFRY disappointed if those greedy fuckers get something like this pushed through (even though I don't live in Britain.) They don't need help.. the movie cos have sales records, and the music companies sales are dropping (to the extent that they are) because they are pushing stale and unimaginative albums, and not getting with the times with non-DRMed digital distribution. It is NOT the ISPs job to police users -- maybe the pigopolists should ask BT to tap everyone's phone lines, in case they are reading a book or playing music over it? They are asking the EXACT same thing of the ISPs.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Re the post above , the chance of this being dropped in the House of Lords is near zero - not one of those ancient duffers has the slightest clue about the technology, and thus are completely unsighted on the possible implications on civil liberties etc

    Our best hope is some delay in the passage of the bill so that it coincides with the general election. Although an incoming tory government doesn't exactly fill my heart with glee, theres a good chance they would drop the legislation like a stone because its unlikely to be in their top twenty to-do list, and its not exactly a vote winner. When they're in power they can tell their media buddies where to shove it...

  26. Steven Snape

    Everybody quoting the 1.7bn against the 0.5bn

    Everybody quoting the 1.7bn record company gain against our 0.5bn costs asking why are we paying for it, Cant you see the obvious tax gains for Gordon Brown.

    Our ISP costs go up that will result in an increased VAT payment - Kerching!

    Illegal downloads will reduce in numbers, More VAT - Kerching!

    Record company bosses get bonuses, Income tax and other taxes - Kerching, Kerching!

    Record company boss can afford to put fuel in his yacht and aeroplane, Fuel duty and VAT - Kerching!

    The winner is Gordon Brown.

    The losers are us, your 6 year old nephew who downloaded 'Steps Greatest Hits' and your 70 year old grandad whos wireless has been used by all the file sharers in the street because he has only just learnt how to switch his pc on and find google but understandably has not quite mastered wireless encryption.

  27. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Copyright is *not* theft

    So why should ISP's be required to police someone else's problem?

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Complete stupidity.

    So let me get this straight. This scheme will cost £500 million a year and will increase music and film sales by £1.7 billion over 10 years.

    Now maybe I'm bad at maths, but spending £5 billion to increase profits by £1.7 billion doesn't actually make any kind of financial sense whatsoever.

    This is especially troubling because:

    a) Our Government have always drastically underestimated costs, especially when comes to insanely ambitious IT projects nobody wants. The real cost will almost certainly turn out to be 3 or 4 times higher.

    b) This won't encourage anyone to stop downloading illegally and start buying full-price albums / movies again, so I doubt there will be anything like a £1.7 billion increase in music and movie sales. In fact, I can only see it putting even more people off.

    c) When the new law inevitably fails to produce the results the music and movie industry wants, the £25 a year fee will undoubtedly increase.

    And they plan to implement this a couple of months before the General Election? Yes, good luck with that(!)

  29. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The Bill is set to be scrutinised by a committee on 6 January. ®

    "The Bill is set to be scrutinised by a committee on 6 January. ®"

    Hmm interesting , it oesnt sem to be listed as business today ?

    if you check the URL

    it clearly states "The main role of General Committees is to consider proposed legislation, mostly Public Bills, in detail. This committee system allows faster processing of Bills and is unique to the House of Commons;...."

    and yet

    upuntil a few minutes ago, before 6am it listed yesturdays business and now says "TimeBusinessThere is no business today"

    So weres this Digital Economy Bill scrutinised by General Committee taking place, and were can we view it realtime, preferably in video format and later text OC...

    are You following this up Elreg ? ,perhaps chris should be following this in more detail today ?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hansard 6th Jan 2010 scrutinised by a committee transcipt, Digital Economy Bill [HL]

    hansard 6th Jan 2010 scrutinised by a committee transcipt, Digital Economy Bill [HL]

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Digital Economy Bill [HL] House of Lords debates, 6 January 2010, 3:39 pm

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