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UK ISP Disconnects Customers For File Sharing 311

Posted by kdawson
from the one-strike-and-you're-dead dept.
think_nix writes "Karoo, an ISP in Hull, in the UK, is disconnecting subscribers without warning if they file-share, or are even suspected of file-sharing. Karoo is the only ISP in the area. Copyright owners are working with the ISP helping them identify and report suspected filesharers using their services. In order to get service restored, subscribers have to go to Karoo's office and sign a form admitting guilt and promising not to do it again. The article states that some subscribers have had their access cut off for more than two years." Update: 07/24 16:29 GMT by KD : The Register is reporting that Karoo has relented and has changed its policy. A spokesman said: "It is evident that we have been exceeding the expectation of copyright owners..."
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UK ISP Disconnects Customers For File Sharing

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  • by Red4man (1347635) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:29AM (#28807647) Journal
    I guess they don't know about file caching...
  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:30AM (#28807669)
    Get the IP address of the Karoo president, and denounce him to the Karoo tech as the originator of suspicious copyrighted file sharing. Hilarity ensues.
    • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:56AM (#28808071)

      Alternately, park outside his house and/or outside the Karoo offices, hack into a wireless router, and download as much music as you can.

      I particularly like the idea of some Karoo tech setting some options to block a reported IP, and then asking, "Hey, did our network go down?"

      • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday July 24, 2009 @12:29PM (#28809427)

        Alternately, park outside his house and/or outside the Karoo offices, hack into a wireless router, and download as much music as you can.

        Make sure that you download as much Hannah Montana, Vanilla Ice, Kriss Kross and Alvin and the Chimpmunks Sing Christmas Carols as you possibly can. When people see what he's been 'downloading', it should be the most embarassing mess of awful music the world has ever seen.

  • by nicolas.kassis (875270) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:31AM (#28807675)
    I can't understand that, if theirs only one ISP it should be a requirement to maintain at least basic service. Considering how much government business is moving online, this is now a requirement to function.
    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:45AM (#28807909)
      Since government business is moving online, then the government should be the one required to ensure people have access to it. Most libraries these days has free internet access, so that issue is resolved.

      The problem when requiring independent businesses to supply a basic service in any eventuallity has caused issues. Two examples of this is that the water services in the UK cannot cut you off for non-payment of your bills - the downside to this is that a lot of people know that, and simply refuse to pay anyway.

      The second example is that the government recently stopped paying Local Housing Allowance to private landlords (where the person entitled to the housing allowance was in private rented accomodation rather than social housing) and started paying it to the entitled person instead.

      This was done in an effort to increase the individuals ability to manage their own finances. What it actually accomplished was the situation where many landlords were not getting paid, because the person receiving the allowance was instead spending the money on alcohol, tobacco and luxury goods.

      THe problem is, its a long process to evict a tenant that isn't paying, and a longer one to evict a tenant that is already receiving housing benefit. So private landlords are paying the price for the government policy change.

      So now, the council register of private landlords willing to house Local Housing Allowance recipients has shrunk by as much as 90% in two years.

      The phone companies can cut off your telephone line, theres no reason why your internet connection is any more special.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by siloko (1133863)

        because the person receiving the allowance was instead spending the money on alcohol, tobacco and luxury goods.

        O dear looks like you have been reading a bit too much Daily Mail [slashdot.org] . . . Be warned the link contains offensive material and on top of that has the longest front page known to man (well at least outside blogspot!).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by navygeek (1044768)
      Not even close to a 'right', how do you figure it is? Even with government having a stronger presence online, there are still offices people can walk into, real people to interact with - it's just not as instant as online and someone, *gasp*, may have to wait in line. Seriously, having access to the internet is not a right in any way, shape, or form. As much as we nerds/geeks may like to think otherwise, you don't die if you can't access the world wide web.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ToadProphet (1148333)
        No, but it does place a person at a disadvantage. In many ways you could make the same arguments about electricity or even running water - since those services are available in some shape or form by waiting in line. And for someone with disabilities, internet access can be as important as physical aids.
        It may not be considered an essential service now, but it damn well ought to be.
    • by mea37 (1201159)

      Getting from point A to point B is far more basic than browsing the web. My day-to-day life is impacted because I can't drive. Nobody's basic day-to-day life is harmed for want of internet service; hell, many people choose not to have it.

      So is driving a right rather than a privilege? I should be allowed to drive even though I can't pass the vision test? Someone who has used a vehicle to assult someone, or who repeatedly risks others' lives by driving while severly impaired by alcohol, should still get t

      • by berzerke (319205)
        There is a big difference here. If you lose your license, it's because a court took it away. The government has to prove you are no longer worthy of that right and you have the chance to defend yourself. With Hull, no proof is required, only an accusation, and you don't get to defend yourself.
        • by mea37 (1201159)

          The question, which you ignored, is whether driving is a right.

          For the record, no court took any license away from me. So apart from dodging the real issue, you are factually wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MarkvW (1037596)

      Yeah, I like that. Taxpayers are obligated to subsize unrestricted file sharing. That'll go over big in ANY country.

  • Legal CYA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Etrias (1121031) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:37AM (#28807793)
    What struck me about this whole thing is the alleged file-sharer has to sign a document admitting guilt and then the promise that they wouldn't do it again.

    Seems awfully heavy handed to me, not to mention legally tricky for those who are accused. What's to say that by signing that document, they won't open themselves up to legal motions by the multinational entertainment companies.
    • Re:Legal CYA (Score:4, Insightful)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:46AM (#28807929) Journal

      Cross-out the offending portions and write, "admits no guilt" above them. Then sign.

      If they still refuse to restore service, hire a team of lawyers and sue them under antitrust/antimonopoly legislation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This is akin to the cops saying "We know you did it. Just tell us what happened and we'll try to work out some kind of deal". They are trying to scare the actual guilty into giving themselves up at the expense of harassing people who did no wrong. Unfortunately, it is your job as the accused to tell them to shove it up their ass.
  • I don't understand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pauljlucas (529435) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:39AM (#28807823) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand why ISPs want to be in the business of policing their users: it costs money to do that. It also costs them lost revenue for cutting off users. Why don't the ISPs just say "It's not our problem" to the copyright holders presumably just as the Postal Service would say if people were sending copyrighted documents, CDs, or DVDs through the mail.
    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:44AM (#28807887)
      Because the ISP's want to be in the business of being copyright holders. ISP's are trying to apply the cable TV business model to the Internet. I hope they fail. I think they will, but am concerned about some things I have been seeing that seem to indicate that they are having some success.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pauljlucas (529435)

        [T]he ISP's want to be in the business of being copyright holders.

        Copyrights to what? They don't produce music or movies. How can they hold a copyright if they don't produce anything?

        • by Vancorps (746090)

          In the U.S. at least, a lot of cable companies are owned by content producers. Time warner for instance.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:45AM (#28807903)

      I don't understand why ISPs want to be in the business of policing their users: it costs money to do that. It also costs them lost revenue for cutting off users.

      You're assuming it costs more money to police them than it does to kick off the heavier bandwidth users and then have a larger profit margin. 90% of the users pay for the 10% who use bandwidth heavily. Get rid of the 10% and profits soar. Ah, but you assume internet access is a regulated public utility and so they have to be fair and impartial? Te-he. Silly techie, trix are for kids!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pauljlucas (529435)

        90% of the users pay for the 10% who use bandwidth heavily.

        So either state in the contract that there is a bandwidth cap (and enforce it) or charge more for more bandwidth. Their policy should be bandwidth-based and not content-based. That also happens to be a lot simpler to enforce.

        • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:53AM (#28808855) Homepage

          Which whould you buy?

          Unlimited internet £19.99*
          50gb/month internet £19.99

          * Subject to FUP, and we won't tell you it's 50gb/mo anywhere.

          90% of people will go for the first. It's all about perception.

          IMO it should be illegal to use the term unlimited when it clearly isn't, but that's the way the law stands at the moment.

          Worse, what's started happening is people are complaining about the FUPs, so they're being rewritten with no cap just a vague paragraph about protecting other users. Competition is forcing the prices down to the point that it's hard to make a profit on normal usage let alone heavy usage, so you've got unlimited services with no written cap, massively oversubscribed and underpriced.

          In that situation kicking off the high volume users is all they have left.. they've backed themselves into a corner.

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        That might be, but half of those 10% are the ones recommending the company to the other 90.

    • by jonwil (467024)

      One big reason in some cases is the implied threat that if they dont start doing the policing themselves voluntarily, the government will step in and pass laws forcing them to do so (which will be much worse for the ISP than doing it voluntarily)

      Also, if some ISPs are doing it (e.g. those that also provide subscription TV services or otherwise license big media company content and hence have a vested interest in doing such policing) and others are not, those that do not will be seen as "bad" for allowing "i

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:40AM (#28807837) Journal

    The summary is incorrect. They still have the option to use dialup from some other company, or satellite.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:42AM (#28807865)

    At first I thought they would disconnect me for sharing ubuntu-9.04-desktop-i386.iso . Then when the summary mentioned copyright owners, I wasn't so sure. Then the summary mentioned "admitting guilt", what guilt?

  • Silly Karoo (Score:5, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:42AM (#28807867) Journal
    Apparently "kangaroo court" is now "karoo court"...
  • Is this legal? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by javacowboy (222023)

    Can anybody in the UK shed some light on whether this practise is even legal? How can an ISP act as a judge, jury and executioner especially given that they have spotty evidence at best?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mdm-adph (1030332)

      Because they're not throwing you in jail -- all they're doing is cutting off your service, which I'm pretty sure they're allowed to do even in the UK.

  • Bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by ServerIrv (840609) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:53AM (#28808033)

    From the Summary:
    "The article states that some subscribers have had their access cut off for more than two years." WRONG.

    From the Article:
    "The terms and conditions Karoo enforce are not new - the BBC has spoken to customers whose accounts were suspended over two years ago." In actuality, this only means that the enforcement of this policy has been in use for over two years, not that actual customers have been without internet access for that time duration.

    • Except that this section of TFA invalidates your claim of bad summary: "Some customers have had their accounts suspended for more than two years." That was in the second 'paragraph'.

  • by wjousts (1529427) on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:57AM (#28808087)
    well, guilty actually, since there doesn't seem to be any provision for proving your innocence. So, guilty until admitted guilty.
  • Or... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:09AM (#28808249)

    subscribers have to go to Karoo's office and sign a form admitting guilt and promising not to do it again.

    How about going to their office en masse and burning it down?

  • I live pretty near hull, and am always horrified by the fact they can only access the internet via one ISP (who throttle badly, port block, along with this). It is enough (well, along with Hull being a horrible place) to stop me ever even thinking of living there.
  • No news here (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Carra (1220410)
    My ISP clearly states in their policy that one should not use their line for illegal activities. And under their punishments is a disconnection. I've had a disconnection for a few days five years ago (for file sharing). If I were to repeat it again and I'm facing a week and then a full disconnection. Immediately disconnecting the line on the first crime seems like bad business to me. It's one customer who won't be paying his monthly bill!
  • by lobiusmoop (305328) on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:40AM (#28808673) Homepage

    according to this independent ratings site [dslzoneuk.net].

  • It's stated that a user must sign an admission of guilt before reconnecting service, I don't see how that isn't a breach of due process. I'm not a lawyer or an expert, but could one logically conclude that this business is using it's unique position of power to force users to wave their right to a free trial? I read another comment where someone claims it could be an infringement to one's basic human rights, and while I don't quite agree, I think it's an infringement of our legal rights. Karoo is the only p
  • Something that seems to have been missed in all this fury, it that British ISP are vulnerable to the threats of large copyright owners because there is no safe harbour provision as provided for by the DMCA. Large ISP's like BT or Virgin have the financial resources to fight, medium sized ISPs like Karoo or small scale ISPs cannot afford to spend millions defending themselves in the high court.

    • by jimicus (737525) on Friday July 24, 2009 @12:06PM (#28809095)

      It's not quite as simple as that.

      We don't have a DMCA and as far as I am aware, the ISP cannot be sued by the content provider for allowing copyright infringement.

      So, why does the ISP police its users like this? Simple. The content industry went to the government and said "waah waah piracy is costing us billions every week!" and the government came back with an ultimatum to ISPs: "do something about it or we'll pass a law forcing you to".

      Now we have a situation where instead of this policing following a law (which at least generally has the good grace to deal with such things as providing a due process and an appeals procedure), it's based on your contract with your ISP which they can rewrite on a whim.

      I think I'd have preferred the law.

  • It is evident, yes. (Score:4, Informative)

    by aaandre (526056) on Friday July 24, 2009 @12:07PM (#28809105)

    "It is evident that we have been exceeding the expectation of copyright owners..."

    Sit!

    Fetch!

    Good boy!

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