back to article BT boss urges fines for filesharing customers

Ian Livingston, the boss of Britain's biggest ISP BT, is lobbying for the government's proposed technical sanctions against filesharers to be replaced with fines. He said suspending internet access for the most persistent copyright infringement, as envisaged by the Digital Economy Bill, could deny those accused a fair hearing …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    presumably, this actually involves a court and proof

    at least there seems to be a move towards due process here

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I assume in that case...

    ... that he also encourages criminal prosecution and jail time for bosses of large corporations who secretly snoop the internet connections of private citizens without their permission.

  3. EddieD

    Nothing to do with revenue, of course

    Cutting an filesharer's internet connection cuts the ISP revenue from that customer, and of course, this premise hasn't even featured in his response to this.

  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Utter bollocks

    "service providers would in every case be able to ensure that the decision as to whether a site should be blocked is made by the High Court"

    No, the ISP will face the court costs if they dispute it and don't win. It says in section (4) (b):

    "the owner of copyright before making the application made a written request to the service provider giving it a reasonable period of time to take measures to prevent its service being used to access the specified online location in the injunction, and no steps were taken, the Court shall order the service provider to pay the copyright owner's costs of the application unless there were exceptional circumstances justifying the service provider's failure to prevent access despite notification by the copyright owner."

    So if they don't roll over and comply with the request, they face court costs. The BPI are lying here. What the amendment should have been was that the request must go to court first, and the costs are not to be bared by the ISP.

  5. Gordon is not a Moron

    Anyone else think..

    that the BPI/FACT/FAST etc. already have papers drawn up to block the pirate bay et al. and they are ready to send them to the High Court at 00:01 in the day this law comes in to effect?

  6. The Cube

    BT, copyright, fines, pot & kettle


    Presumably Mr BT is also keen that BT should be paying a copyright violation fine to the owner of every website that was copied, altered and redistributed without permission during the Phorm trial. Or is is perhaps that our dear old Out of Order still wants one rule for them and another for everyone else.

    On the upside, having worked for a large telco and seen how Ofcom investigations are made to "go away" with a few approriate (but expensive) words in the right ears by a retained peer of the realm perhaps this Digital Bollocks Bill may go the same way now that the telcos have decided that it gets inbetween them and farming their customers for cash.

  7. ElFatbob
    Thumb Down

    Sorry guys,

    Mandy's already been paid for this. No going back now.....

  8. EddieD


    Then they'd have to draw up papers to block Google as well, since google can search PirateBay/Isohunt/torrentz/BTMon/Kickasstorrents/TorrentReactor/TorrentDownloads/and so on..

    But oddly, I think that this meta search will escape their wrath, which will mean all the other blocks are pointless (just point your browser at the google cache).

    Piratebay no longer host torrents or trackers, using DHT/Peer Discovery to get folk torrenting, so they are no less legal than Google, as far as I'm aware, in that they are just providing search results for other people hosting torrents.

    1. Gordon is not a Moron

      Just read Lord Clement-Jones' comments in the article

      "The injunction will only be granted where copyright owners had first requested ISPs to block access to the site and where they had also requested the site operator to stop providing access to the infringing material (either by removing the material itself or removing the ability to access the material),"

      It's the 'providing access to infringing material' part that gives music\film industries just enough legal cover to go after sites that primarliy exist to share copyrighted works. Google could side step the issue by pulling another "China accomadation" by just dropping the word torrent from any UK searches.

  9. The Metal Cod


    More hypocrisy from Livingston. How can he talk of natural justice when he was directly responsible for the secret & illegal tests of Phorm's technology? If he believes in natural justice when can we see his ar5e and those of the other execs involved with the Phorm trials in court?

  10. Greg J Preece

    And there it is...

    "The peers behind the amendment have argued that since all major ISPs already block a list of URLs carrying images of child abuse, they have the technical means to comply with injunctions demanding copyright blocking."

    The very *definition* of function creep.

    Arseholes. Wonder what they'll want to censo^H^H^H^H^H block next.

    1. Jim Halfpenny
      Thumb Up

      Hear hear!

      I assume that said same peers have no knowledge of the actual technology used to achive this even if they say it can be applied to file sharing. Those in power take note:

      Internet != WWW

    2. Dr. Mouse

      Couldn't have put it better myself

      When the IWF block list was brought in, people shouted about possible function creep. The response was always "we will only use it to protect the children", and those complaining were looked down on by most non-techies for "not caring about the children".

      Now "the technology is already in place", it can be used for other things, like "Prevention of Copyright Theft". When it's function has been extended once, it is easier to do so again, and again, and again, and before we know it, "All Your Internet Are Belong To Us".

      To paraphrase:

      First they came for the Child Porn Sites, and I did not speak out—because I was not interested in looking at Child Porn.

      Then they came for the File Sharing Sites, and I did not speak out—because I was not interested in File Sharing.

      Then they came for those interested in how explosives are made, and I did not speak out—because I was not interested in how explosives are made.

      Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

      Or to put it another way... TOLD YOU SO!

  11. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge


    Right... so the rich can keep infringing, or deflect the false accusations, but the less well off are still screwed ? Well done...

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Laughable the FT report on this

    I used to work for the FT, many of the employees there have ripped off copyrighted materials on their own PC, films, music, TV programs. The FT report on how awful copyright theft is but let their own people do it internally.

    Nice double standards

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Double standards?

      I'm not sure that's a case of double standards or the staff at FT undermining the corporate ethos of their employer. Are you holding your former employer responsible for your actions? Sounds like a short leap to blaming your ISP for allowing you to pirate music and movies. Can you see where that will lead us?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Just Say No

    A law only works if enough people respect and follow it. What precisely could anyone do about it if _all_ the ISP's flat out refused to do it?

    At first there'd be fines and threats, but beyond that?

    Sadly I'm not sure any of these businesses are _that_ principled, and there'll always be less principled people willing to fill the void, just curious is all.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    A basic human right?

    Many recent articles and court rulings have come to the conclusion that internet access is a basic human right like access to fresh water, free speech etc. The French high courts being one of note. Although not internationally recognised as of yet it is likely to be soon.

    Considering this, wouldn't the removal of this basic necessity now be considered a breach of human rights?

    (didn't know if I should use a stop or go sign for obvious reasons)

  15. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    He's got Phorm

    Considering the number of copyrights BT violated (of websites) during its Phorm trials, can we expect BT to be fined on a per-pimped-site basis?

  16. Zimmer

    ACS/Davenport Lyons......

    The Livingstone proposal would only create a (worse) scenario similar to the ACS/Davenport Lyons one. A letter with a demand (fine) for payment on the presumption of guilt with the prospect of going to 'court' for what could then be a 'criminal' offence, not a civil one.

    By paying the fine would one be admitting a criminal offence and therefore obtain a criminal record ?..

    and maybe then have to give a DNA sample... and be put on another database ... etc..etc.. Another means of oppression for whoever wishes to abuse this... makes me think that having an internet connection is becoming akin to stating that one is going to be a criminal someday.

    It will be only a matter of time before someone can accuse you of something illegal, however trivial (falsely or otherwise) and you have little or no defence against any injustice as the computer/IP address, he say 'Yes' and it cannot lie, right ??? and Mr. Average has no way of knowing how to convince anyone that it might be wrong... or invented.. or whatever..

    Time to consider whether or not I would want internet access in the future, particularly as I consider it a luxury, not a human right...

  17. Jim Halfpenny
    Big Brother

    Are you looking in the wrong direction?

    How much financial impact does 'piracy' represent to the economy against say maintaining the internet connection of bot-infected PCs? If only information security has the money^H^H^H^H^H lobbying power of the recording industry.

  18. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    "Torrent" is a legitimate word

    It's used to refer to a not necessarily legitimate use of technology, but it's also just a word - not like Napster or Limewire.

  19. m33toh
    Big Brother

    My point of view over file sharing

    If u legitimately buy a cd/dvd containing copyrighted material, you are aloud to give it away and also borrow it to someone else, right? Also, you are aloud to make security copies, in case the original gets ruined. And of course, quipping all your security copies in one place, is nothing close to smart. So you could ask someone else to do you the favor of taking care of your security copy and there would be no problem if that person uses that copy if its not a one machine licensed software and you are using it already in other machine. This would also apply compressed backups, meaning mp3s, avis and sort.

    So none should be prosecuted for holding copyrighted material as long that someone else that legitimately bought it, states that person is doing the favor of taking care of legit backups.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Out of control...

    Fines or disconnections? Not sure if the question is even relevant. All this - essentially - revolves around Mandybum's thoroughly undemocratic efforts to compensate NuLabour's media paymasters for their investment.

    The media monks are simply finding more and different ways of burning heretics at the stake, instead of just accepting Mr Caxton's printing press and learning to use it effectively. And creating new and fresh problems at every step - in fact the manic process is getting out of control.

    The old media model is dead. Dead as the dodo. It has no more future profit potential than the quill pen. It is the media industry's woeful inability/unwillingness to come up with new business models - models that depend on turnover not obscene profit margins - that underlies this entire argument.

  21. bexley
    Big Brother


    your not allowed to borrow / load a CD. Sorry.

    I'm not sure but i think that the case for making a backup has been weakened too.

    This is not a good day for the UK.


    Eye watering hyopcrisy

    The UK's biggest ever commercial infringer of digital media copyrights now urges fines for other people who infringe digital media copyrights.

    © Copyright 2010

  23. Jaques Croissant

    So, operation "please don't hate us" has begun at BT?

    After the Phorm fiasco, they will need a lot of photo ops with disabled kittens and the like the repair the damage..

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Nah - the money will go to BT I bet

    1 - draft letter that meets government approval and send it to filesharers

    2 - win a couple of good PR results on basis: pay BT a penalty or go to court (of course, some mugs will choose to go to court and lose)

    3 - wait a couple of weeks for the dust to settle down

    4 - send approved letter to anyone (especially the naive) with merest hint of sharing a file

    5 - ensure that those pay penalties to BT and don't follow up on those choosing court action (poor PR)

    6 - a new revenue stream to BT has just evolved

  25. Anonymous Coward


    1) i suppose if htey can get the legal machine to focus back on the individual and not the ISP, BT can pleade innocense as teh person is liable not the corporation?

    2) Dont all BT users already get fined? They certainly pay more than most other ISP for a worse service.... maybe its like the lottery, a tax on the stupid?

  26. cosmogoblin


    "The BPI, the record label trade association, responded to the criticism"

    Sorry, but isn't telling us what is and isn't legal (or going to be) the remit of the government/courts?

    When did the BPI start deciding what the laws are and how they're applied?

    Oh... right...

  27. irish donkey

    Just like speeding camera's

    Dear Sir

    We have proof that you <exceeded the speed limit> infringed somebodies copyright at this time.

    Please pay us £60 or face court action.

    Cheques to us please.

    Simple! The model is already tried and tested. It also gives the ISP's more of an incentive to pursue infringers as they will get their 'Admin' cut off the top.

    This is the beginning of the end.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    is anyone else

    imagining how much fun could be had near mr Livingstone's house with a few easily obtainable wi-fi tools, a netbook, and some patience!

    1. David Beck

      raises an interesting question

      ISP connections are not often personal, infringement is. Can someone explain how the law reconciles this difference? Is the person that signed the contract responsible for all usage? What about universities, corporates or government connections? If I infringe while using a free wifi in a corporate office (or McDonalds) will the ISP disconnect them, if not why not? Just asking. BTW, is there any free wifi at number 10?

  29. jje

    connection security

    1) If I leave my car unlocked and someone steals it and kills someone with it am I held responsible under criminal or civil law?

    2) If i leave my wifi connection unsecured and someone steals bandwidth and downloads copyrighted material am I held responsible?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Slippery Slope

    "The peers behind the amendment have argued that since all major ISPs already block a list of URLs carrying images of child abuse, they have the technical means to comply with injunctions demanding copyright blocking."

    There's that slippery slope of technology creep.

    First kiddie porn, now file sharing sites.

    Wonder what next?

    Give it 5-10 years we'll be in the same boat as China.

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