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UK Government To Terminate File Sharers' Net Access 411

An anonymous reader writes "New plans published by the UK Govt show that they hope to terminate internet access for people suspected of breaching copyright by file sharing. Under the proposed new laws ISPs who fail to enforce the policy will face prosecution in the courts. Users falling foul of the new law will be subject to a three strike policy: First suspected instance of illegal file sharing they would receive a warning, at the second — a suspension, and at the third they will have their Internet connection terminated. It isn't clear whether users will be prevented from ever using the internet again, or whether simply subscribing to a new ISP will reset the process."
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UK Government To Terminate File Sharers' Net Access

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  • Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spleen_blender ( 949762 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @09:47AM (#22391156)
    Encrypt your file sharing. Does anything else really need to be said?
    • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @09:54AM (#22391248)
      Defensive tactics are not advised. If they come for the file-sharing users now, what makes you think they will not come for the encryption users later? Better to make our stand here and now, upon this miserable connection and fall as link-dead than to run for higher obscurity against an ever rising invasion of our privacy.
      • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:05AM (#22391412) Homepage
        Surely they'll have to prove what is it that I'm downloading? As I've already pointed out in another post, my ISP has blocked BitTorrent. I can't download Ubuntu now without beating the crap out of the server. If I encrypt BitTorrent, then I'm able to download the free and legal software that I'm entitled to.

        I can see my ISP's point, but they're making my life difficult.
        • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:14AM (#22391512)
          My biggest problem with this news is the vagueness of the proposal. It states several times "customers suspected of making illegal downloads." I wonder what would constitute activity suspicious enough to trigger a strike. It is no secrete that over here in the states' the *AAs are rather forceful in pursuing "suspected" illegal file-sharers, oft to the point of false accusations and approaching terror tactics (Universities that have stopped nearly all P2P traffic, for example.) Laws with disputable characteristics like this make an excellent foundation for the further legitimization of such tactics.
          • Re:Ummmm (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Richard W.M. Jones ( 591125 ) <rich@ann[ ]a.org ['exi' in gap]> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:39AM (#22391838) Homepage

            It states several times "customers suspected of making illegal downloads."

            I'll add some facts here ...

            The way this works is like this: IFPI (or more likely some contracted-out company) will connect to "Teeney_Spears_best_of.torrent" bittorrent, and will note down the time and IP address of all the other machines in the swarm. Any which belong to a UK ISP will result in a notification being sent to the ISP who will forward it along to the customer. Three srikes etc.

            The ISPs won't be monitoring connections, because (surprisingly) that is illegal interception and can only be done under carefully controlled conditions as specified in the RIP Act. Oh actually, it can be done by everyone and their dog in local government, but that is a separate issue [openrightsgroup.org].

            Encryption and suspicion don't really come into this. Plausible deniability, neighbours and visitors using your wifi connection, challenges over the chain of evidence, compromised machine, etc. are all possible, assuming any of these cases ever makes it to court. The whole point of the voluntary agreement is to avoid cases coming to court and needing solid evidence.


          • How much do you bet encrypted bittorrent will mark you down as a suspect? "We can't see what you're downloading but since 99% of P2P stuff is copyrighted* (source: my arse) you're probably a criminal". Heck, I use BT to nab those lovely, lovely Ubuntu ISO's and use encryption when available to hopefully evade throttles.

            * Probably much mroe than 99% of stuff on P2P is copyrighted. The term they're looking for is *infringing* copyrighted content.
          • I wonder what would constitute activity suspicious enough to trigger a strike.

            Probably just using BitTorrent to download a Linux distro.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Keith_Beef ( 166050 )

          Read the article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7240234.stm [bbc.co.uk]

          Here are extracts.

          A draft consultation suggests internet service providers would be required to take action over users who access pirated material.

          According to the Times, the draft paper states: "We will move to legislate to require internet service providers to take action on illegal file sharing."

          This is a draft proposal for discussion, so now is the time to act.

          Write to your MP, explaining how the proposed legislation would be

          • unworkable
          • unnecessary
          • immoral

          Going after downloaders would seriously inconvenience legitimate users of P2P networks, such as those who use them for FOSS distribution. Driving people to encrypt their distributions would just result in an escalation of the problem and the gov't would

          • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Informative)

            by jonsmirl ( 114798 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:28AM (#22392432) Homepage
            You might also want to point out that this would turn the ISPs into police and give them some of the powers of police. Policing should stay in the hands of government. If the government really wants to police this they can follow proper legal procedures for establishing a wire tap, proving guilt, etc. It is a very slippery slope allowing ISPs to monitor traffic and make decisions based on what they see in the traffic. What if they decide to start monitoring MP's email and publish interesting tidbits?

            A better answer is for the content industry to come up with a new business model. Obviously the world has changed and their old one doesn't work anymore.
        • Re:Ummmm (Score:4, Insightful)

          by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:24PM (#22393182) Homepage

          I can see my ISP's point, but they're making my life difficult.
          The ISPs are in a difficult spot here. Ensuring that the content that users are trafficking is legal is actually more difficult than the post office ensuring that none of the envelopes that it relays contain fraudulent checks. This legislation was obviously not passed by folks with any kind of technical sophistication.

          Unfortunately, that does not imply that it cannot lead to successful prosecution when an ISP is identified as being in violation...
    • Re:Ummmm (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:00AM (#22391316) Homepage Journal
      There were no specifics in the text of two articles of how they are going to detect file sharing. I bet they will just go by known services from their list, known torrent sites, etc. So, the encryption won't help.

      Opening emails or data packets is illegal if you simple extend the law about snail-mail. If they stepped into this, they are making their unconstitutional (well, it's UK, so substitute whatever you have for constitution) rules, which makes it pretty much irrelevant whether you encrypt your uploads or not.
      • well, it's UK, so substitute whatever you have for constitution
        Errrr, sod all. We have no consitution what so ever.

        In our country anything can be made illegal if government can get it through parliament unless it breaches a Law that is passed down by a higher authority. The higher authorities we currently recognise are the European Court and the International Convention on Human Rights.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          I think you mean the UK is said to have no written constitution. It sure as hell has a constitution, which mostly consists of existing case law. Funnily enough most of this is actually written down, but not in one single document. This has advantages and disadvantages - it's more flexible than the formal US constitution (this is both the advantage and disadvantage).
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )

            I think you mean the UK is said to have no written constitution
            Sorry to be pedantic[1], but actually we have a written but not codified constitution. The Magna Carta, common law and Hansard all form the British Constitution.

            [1] Wait, this is Slashdot, no I'm not.

    • Yeah, I wonder if the politicians who proposed this law were even aware of things like encryption. Perhaps they thought that there was no way for 6 million people to hide their activities online. Politicians need a lesson on computing, before they make more tubesque laws.
    • In the UK you have to give law enforcement officials the keys on request, by law, to decrypt anything that they have collected which they suspect may contain evidence of a crime. This is called the "RIP act".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by superwiz ( 655733 )
      Encryption is illegal in Britain. That is you must surrender your keys upon request by the government. Any notions you may have about Britain not being a police state are wrong.
  • by jaxtherat ( 1165473 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @09:47AM (#22391164) Homepage
    I love how at the bottom of TFA there is this bit:

    Do you download illegally or do you think it's right that illegal downloaders should be disconnected? Send us your comments by filling out the form below.

    Your E-mail address
    Town & Country
    Phone number (optional):
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by u38cg ( 607297 )
      That's just the BBC being itself. They have this wierd idea that being a public service broadcaster means they have to publish the comments of every clueless fool who writes into them. Unofrtunately this just results in a list of daft comments that make Youtube posters look thoughtful.
  • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @09:48AM (#22391166) Homepage
    My ISP, Pipex, has already blocked me from using BitTorrent. At first I thought it was just a problem with the server, but when I couldn't download a single Linux distribution I started getting suspicious.

    I've fixed it now, but I'm not impressed that Pipex see BitTorrent as a cancer that needs to be cut out, and if anything innocent goes with it, then that's OK because it's for the greater good.
    • by duguk ( 589689 )
      I'm with a company who is part of part of Pipex (Freedom2Surf) and never had any problems with torrents, but have had plenty of warnings about downloading ;)

      I'd love to know what problems you had.

      I'm now using a server somewhere else and downloading via it. It's a lot easier, and quicker even though its indirect.
    • Bizarrely enough, I'm on Bulldog (now a subsidiary of Pipex) and after having HTTP traffic slow to diallup speeds for the past week (I'm on an 8Mb line), I tried a couple of torrents last night. HTTP still dog slow, torrents came down at 4Mb. Go figure.
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @09:51AM (#22391212) Journal
    First suspected instance of illegal file sharing they would receive a warning, at the second -- a suspension, and at the third they will have their Internet connection terminated

    Nice to see that they're not even going for proven guilt in this case. So what happens when some poor Brit has his internet connection pulled for downloading Ubuntu ISO's or WOW updates via BitTorrent... or the media companies just screw up and finger the wrong IP as infringing.
    • by s!lat ( 975103 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:00AM (#22391318)
      It is really nice to see that we don't have to deal with that "pesky" Presumed Innocence. I wonder though, can we use this to round up parliamentarians around the world and prosecute them for accepting bribes and corruption? I think that might get the message through.
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )
      ...or when people use the trivial hack of spoofing IP's.
      I thought it was already settled that IP's are no evidence?

      A passport is a proof of somebody's identiy. A post-it with a name written on it is not. An IP is more like the post-it than the passport.
      • Can you please explain to me how the ISP is supposed to route packets to you if you've spoofed your IP?

        Or are you suggesting that m4d h4xx0rz are spoofing IPs purely out of malice and/or to misdirect The Man?

    • by MrNemesis ( 587188 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:25AM (#22391656) Homepage Journal
      Why so cynical? To think that such established and technically competent companies as BT, Virgin and Tiscali would make such egregious errors is unthinkable. If you are a criminal, you are cut off. Therefore, if you're cut off, you're a criminal. Is it really so hard for all of you freeloading hippies to understand?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rogerborg ( 306625 )
        Hacked By Chinese! A true story of their 1337n355:
        • Rogerborg: WTF have you cut me off for?
        • Telewest drone: We detected that you were infected with Code Red [wikipedia.org] and for your safety and convenience blah blah blah.
        • Rogerborg: Code Red? The IIS worm?
        • Telewest drone: Indeed.
        • Rogerborg: I'm running Apache. On SUSE Linux.
        • Telewest drone: [pauses for "thought"] Well, Code Red can infect Apache as well.
        • Rogerborg: Please stop talking. Either restore my service immediately, or our contract will be voided and I
    • I hope they are not going to start suspecting everyone who downloads or uploads a lot of data. I'm sure I'm not the only one who collaborates on making films with people in different countries. I often leave my machine on all night either uploading or downloading footage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LuxMaker ( 996734 )
      Nice to see that they're not even going for proven guilt in this case.

      Actually what I read is worse than this. Anything they do not like will be turned into "suspected" illegal file sharing. Blog the wrong thing? Suspected illegal file sharing. Visit an unapproved website? Suspected illegal file sharing. Have an ISP connection with my competitor? Suspected illegal file sharing.

      Don't think it will happen? Obviously you don't understand human nature too well.
  • by teslar ( 706653 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @09:54AM (#22391246)
    From TFA (BBC):

    Six million people a year are estimated to download files illegally in the UK.
    So, I guess that means the story headline could be changed into "UK Government to reduce ISP's customer base by 6 Million". Somehow I don't think that's gonna happen.
    • TFA doesn't say, but how is the UK going to define what an "ISP" is, anyway? What if I make a wireless mesh network in my neighborhood, and one of the nodes happens to have a DSL connection, would that make me and my mesh an ISP? Would I have to police that? How would a network like Fidonet factor into all this?
      • by LordSnooty ( 853791 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:53AM (#22392036)

        What if I make a wireless mesh network in my neighborhood, and one of the nodes happens to have a DSL connection,
        Without doubt this is phase II of the p2p revolution. A combination of automatic mesh networking setup with decentralised library functionality and shared areas on machines... there's no way to stop this. The tech is already in millions of homes, I just hope someone cleverer than me is working on it already.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kellyb9 ( 954229 )
          sounds like a lot of work. I'd rather just leech of my neighbors wireless and download music from there.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by IdeaMan ( 216340 )

            I'd rather just leech of my neighbors wireless and download music from there.
            Please don't do that.
            That will prevent the rest of us from connecting to the automatic mesh network through them.
    • That's around 10% of the UK's population - a pretty large amount!

      I think that number is even an underestimate as I recall seeing a statement that over 6million people in the UK download movies via peer to peer back in 2004, if that statement was true back then I'd imagine that figure has increased, but is also even large again when you factor in peer to peer sharing of music and other content as well as just movies.
  • Time to emigrate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @09:55AM (#22391254)
    Final proof the government is working against the citizenry, doesn't trust or respect us or have any fucking idea about either technolo9gy or freedom.

    Enforcing this would require constant monitoring of all communication over the net. I'm not suprised our government doesn't see any issue with this as they are totally morally bankrupt. One tenth of the population is doing this and the first thought is surveillance and punishment. Good going.

    I hadn't realised how much they were in the pocket of the **AA/BPI etc though.

    This is a civil matter, for civil courts that should decide a reasonable fine and that be the end of it.
    • Enforcing this would require constant monitoring of all communication over the net.

      Welcome to the United Kingdom of America.
    • It's not just the current Labour goverment. The Conservatives have made similar suggestions in the past also and are backing these current proposals.

      I mention this because people need to be made aware that voting Conservatives in will change nothing, if we're going to solve this problem through elections people need to be looking for a party that really will make a difference - the Lib Dems or even the Greens!
  • Instead of using P2P from home, just do it from a rented server overseas and FTP the stuff from it.

    Fortunately for every stupid law there's a fairly easy technical solution, and it will be this way at least until the current generation of legislators retire and is replaced with people with basic understanding of technology.
  • the law thinks it can control file sharing. it can't. but they aren't smart enough to realize that they just drive the practice further underground. napster was wipe open. shut off one server, it all goes down. so progressive iterations of file sharing software became headless, obfuscated ips, etc. now we will get encryption

    all of these legal efforts, all they do is drive the creation of more robust software. what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. thank you, uk government, for making file sharing softwar
    • by cliffski ( 65094 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:11AM (#22391466) Homepage
      "intellectual property is dead"

      So the movie makers, musicians, writers, software developers and game designers should all go do a basic course in plumbing and carpentry?
      I don't know about you, but I need to pay the bills. You are basically saying that thanks to selfish leeches who think everyone owes them free entertainment for life, our entire collective digital industries are now dead and buried, to be pursued only by hobbyists at the weekends?
      Personally, I'd rather it didn't come to that, and if that means using the law to crack down on people blatantly and repeatedly infringing copyright, then good. Someone copying a mates Cd was never the issue. Its people who leave servers on 24/7 distributing tens of thousands of files that were only released yesterday that is the problem.
      • if technological progress is fair. go ask horseshoe blacksmiths, chimney sweeps, and steamship engineers

        or, refuse to adapt to change and obsolescence, and fight bravely agains tthe dying of the light. go ahead, pass more laws against file sharing. go ahead, hire 10x more pit bull lawyers. go for it dude

        as if it will actually matter

        accept reality, or don't, i don't care. whatever you think is right or wrong doesn't mean reality is going to necessarily reflect that. you can't realistically enforce your beliefs. so your beliefs will not be reality. sorry, but that's the truth. there is in fact naturalistic morality, and beleiving in real moral right and wrong. i'm sorry to break this to you, but intellectual property is not naturally moral. and os it is a completely articifial construct, and, when unable to be enforced, ceases to be respected. you can't reason or argue with a teenager as to why they must pay bertelsmann $10 because they want to listen to michael jackson. there is natural, moral compelling reason for them to respect intelelctual property. it's a fucking joke

        furthermore, the real losers of this game is the distributors, not the artists. they already screw the artists with hilarious contracts. go look up "monkey points" on wikipedia and tell me again about how pirates are hurting artists. they aren't hurting artists at all, they are hurting distributors. distributors are screwing you, and have been screwing you long before the internet even existed

        if distributors are removed, i think maybe 1/10th of the money involved goes away. but as before artists saw only 1/1,000th of the money in play, now they will see 900% of the money in play. so artists make out better for the destruction of distributors

        so pirates are good for artists, by destroying the people that really screw you

        you, like many people, mistake disrespect for a defunct distribution model as disrespect for artists

        wake up
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        So the movie makers, musicians, writers, software developers and game designers should all go do a basic course in plumbing and carpentry?

        Most of them, yes. We've got more than the free market can actually feed, and the bubble of copyright is about to burst.

        I don't know about you, but I need to pay the bills. You are basically saying that thanks to selfish leeches who think everyone owes them free entertainment for life, our entire collective digital industries are now dead and buried, to be pursued only b

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Eukariote ( 881204 )

      the law thinks it can control file sharing. it can't.

      Though it is nearly impossible to control sharing, sharing may not be the only or even the main motivation behind the law. Consider that pretty much anyone can be accused of file sharing, irrespective of whether the person actually engaged in it. How would you defend yourself? It is your word against theirs.

      In short, if approved, this law provides an excuse to deny any citizen Internet access. In particular, it can be used to deny access to people eng

      • unenforceable, except via the most draconian measures, which makes everyone, pirates and nonpirates, severely hampered in their online efforts, putting everyone in an uproar

        you don't simply dramatically retard the internet in a democracy without serious repercussions
    • If only we could make a machine... no, many machines, thousands of machines -with the sole purpose of *copying* information and moving it around! Then we would have something! Nothing could stop the dissemination if knowledge and culture then!
  • Flatmates (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrNemesis ( 587188 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:02AM (#22391370) Homepage Journal
    So how do they propose that my two flatmates who do fileshare are cut off, whereas the remaing two flatmates who don't fileshare retain internet access?

    Oh wait, no-one's proposing that. They just expect me (internet is in my name) to police my flatmates computers for them. Bottom-up stazi citizenry for your future police state here we come.
  • When encryption is used, the ISPs cannot directly monitor what data is coming across the network. Would they then assume that any BitTorrent connection must be something illegal? Would they have to depend on the content overlords to make claims from their own spies in the sharing?

    Should the encryption be "in the stream" like HTTPS, SSL, and SSH does? Or should it be IPsec? Or both?

    • They have three problems

      1. The ISPs will not be willing to monitor the traffic (prohibitively expensive)
      2. The ISPs are not allowed by UK Law to monitor the traffic
      3. The ISPs cannot tell if the traffic is copyright infringing material anyway , it might be encrypted, it might be Public domain, it might not be copyrightable material, it might be fair use, it might be creative commons, it might be with the owners consent?

      This is another unenforceable law that the police and the public will ignore ...
      • by Skapare ( 16644 )

        1. The ISPs will not be willing to monitor the traffic (prohibitively expensive)

        If the proposal becomes law, and the content overlords push enforcement, they may have no choice. And this will raise everyone's internet access price.

        2. The ISPs are not allowed by UK Law to monitor the traffic

        The proposal could make an exception for this, depending on the final form it takes if it gets that far.

        3. The ISPs cannot tell if the traffic is copyright infringing material anyway , it might be encrypted, it might be Public domain, it might not be copyrightable material, it might be fair use, it might be creative commons, it might be with the owners consent?

        The content overloards could provide some (probably very unreliable) software that will scan for signatures of most popular content. They will argue all fair use would not be going over the internet between different access accounts (even though i

  • Write to your MPs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by W3bbo ( 727049 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:06AM (#22391424)
    It's cliche, but armchair moping about it on Slashdot isn't going to affect the outcome of any vote in this legislation.

    Write, phone, or email your MP. I'm doing it, are you?
    • by Xest ( 935314 )
      I have e-mailed both Labour and the Conservatives about their anti-p2p stance.

      Unfortunately they simply responded to tell me that p2p destroys the creative industries, is responsible for terrorism and organised crime and that it must be stopped at all costs.

      Of course, this ignored every legitimate point I put across to them and when I replied back asking if they could instead answer my points and how they can justify their decision when my points are taken into account I simply didn't get a response.

  • by devnullkac ( 223246 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:07AM (#22391430) Homepage

    Since the legal hurdle to invoke this penalty is merely "suspicion," encryption is no protection. Using an encrypted link to a suspect site or using an anonymizing service can be enough evidence in and of itself.

    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      This is why we need to start using more encryption ... for everything done over the internet. That includes making web sites that operate over HTTPS and redirect to the HTTPS URL if accessed via just the HTTP URL. The more we do that now the harder it will be for them to ass-u-me that encryption means you're hiding something. Use encryption by default "because it's more work to turn it on and off for different places".

  • Now I'm sure this attack will be useless before it reaches my country.

    I suppose it will be through encryption but it's not important. We all know this is not going to stop anything, just bother some British people for a short while.

    Fortunately they keep applying those attacks to civilized countries first, so they become obsolete before reaching the people who lives in countries who wouldn't be able to respond so fast.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:10AM (#22391458)
    Imagine if the government started cutting the phone lines and electricity of anyone suspected of illicit activity, with no absolutely no due process. Would we tolerate that even for a second?

    What about all the people falsely accused? Are they going to have to go to court and prove they DIDN'T do anything illegal just to get internet access back?

    A sad day for the UK, and an unfortunate precedent that I'm sure the U.S. and others will soon follow.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      The MPAA and RIAA are already looking to pass legislation to turn off your power if they think you are listening to or watching unauthorized music or movies.

      Those damned customers, they must be STOPPED!
      • by Shados ( 741919 )
        Well no, technically they want to stop everyone EXCEPT their customers... which, with all the crap they publish, is more and more people. Can't blame em...it would be cruel to waste such pretty blank medias on such crap... please think of the blank medias!
  • I seem to recall an arguement implying that if an ISP filters their traffic, they're not being neutral about which data they allow, and this may cause some legal problems. I can't seem to find the article about it though, and I'm not sure what its called. What kind of problems might happen with this? Could a publisher sue a UK ISP for blocking/banning or even reducing speed (through QoS, etc) of his software because it favours other methods?

  • Consultation Paper (Score:4, Informative)

    by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:33AM (#22391766) Journal
    According to TFAs, a consultation paper will be published (BBC says "shortly", Times says "within months"). (These are Government papers to seek out opinions, which anyone can respond to.)

    Perhaps if a few thousand people respond to that as well as complaining on the Internet, it may help stop such laws (not that the Government is obliged to listen to consultation responses, but it's one possible way of opposing new laws, and makes it harder for the Government to claim there is public support).
  • by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:39AM (#22391840)
    Here I have access to two municipal networks, and a bunch of unsecured networks. Who is going to disconnect me from them? Are they going to put tin foil around my apartment?
  • The next step (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kaos07 ( 1113443 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:41AM (#22391864)

    Ok so we have Britain proposing the monitoring of the entire internet, Australia is proposing an ISP-level filter, US cable companies are doing their own selective torrent throttling and various countries such as China already have expansive firewalls and filters in place. Even if this proposal falls through, or is modified somehow, I think we're going to have to accept that governments are in the pockets of the media companies and service providers will target users of p2p because, in their opinion, they aren't making as big a profit as they might like.

    The next step is to ask what we, as the science, engineering and computer-loving community who have been using BitTorrent and various other protocols for legitimate uses before all the kids figured out they could score Amy Winehouse albums for free, can do to either circumvent the policies initiated by the above various groups or to bypass them completely.

    Napster, Limewire and the first generation p2p clients collapsed so BitTorrent was designed and users flocked to it. Now it appears that BitTorrent is going to suffer the same fate (if not now than definitely in the near future - the increasing pressure put on ISP's and governments around the world by copyright holders is going to see to that).

    We can't afford to fight fire with fire. Invasive laws and techniques used by companies such as Comcast may be un-Constitutional, or against the terms of service but the average p2p-user can't afford to launch a civil case against one of the biggest corporations in the USA. My suggestion is for a new protocol to be established, with the emphasis on sharing legitimate files such as patches, Linux ISO's, videos, game demo's etc. Inevitably the first people to jump onto the new system will be the true geeks (By this I mean your average Slashdotter) and by doing so, they can utilise it to its full extent (Something like the early days of BitTorrent) whilst the MPAA/RIAA flog a dead horse.

    Of course it's only a matter of time before pirates jump onto the new protocol and then we watch the whole show unfold again. However p2p-users have proven resourceful and it's only a matter of time before yet another protocol is developed and the cycle continues. But the advantage lies with us. The cost to the developer of something like BitTorrent is minutely small when compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars MAFIAA throws away in its attempt to stop piracy. If we keep it up long enough we might finally get the message across that p2p != piracy, or we might simply bleed them dry.

    • The problem is heavy P2P users who actually understand the behind-the-scenes goings on are a very small minority. Nothing will stop until the general public a) becomes informed about these issues and b) cares enough about them to have an opinion of their own, then act on that opinion. It's possible.

      Here in Germany Nokia recently decided to move production to Poland, where labor is much cheaper, shutting down a large factory in Dortmund where 3000 people are employed. 3000 people out of 80+ million is a
  • How could this realistically be implemented, and what defences are available? Obviously packet-scanning for signatures is fraught with difficulties and easily defeatable by encrypting the data in transit (do current BitTorrent clients do this?)

    The simplest way I can see this happening is automated infringement notices, generated by *AA-run bots which join torrents with names similar to the intellectual property being defended, and send said notices after downloading enough to confirm it matches a signature.
  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:03AM (#22392126) Journal
    Here in the UK, we are forced to pay a tax to the BBC if we watch any TV. Will we be disconnected for downloading content we've already paid for?

    (Yes, the BBC is doing fairly well at introducing content online, but AFAIK that's still got DRM, only available for a certain period etc, and it's a hassle to install new software.)

    Another problem is that the TV market is not anywhere near as a free market as say music, in that consumers are restricted by what their TV/cable/satellite company offers. For example, Virgin Media and Sky had a petty squabble, so VM suddenly cancelled the Sky channels on its service (3p a day per customer was too expensive for VM to pay to Sky). I'm sure people would gladly pay the 3p a day themselves if they could, but the only options are to not watch, or download.

    If this really was costing billions, wouldn't they have worked out their petty squabbles?

    Not to mention, it would help if UK shows weren't shown months after the US - even if it's going to be legally available on your TV, people don't want to watch it months after everyone else, risk being spoilered and so on. Imagine if music CDs were released months later in some countries?
  • by zogger ( 617870 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:04PM (#22392922) Homepage Journal
    The entire idea and practice of globalization, that is so well loved and practiced by big business, is the ability to produce cheap copies. Cheap copies of a manufactured product, or cheap copies of an hour of labor. Business moves a factory that was employing a lot of people over to-someplace else, where they can make their product cheaper. If it is too inconvenient or impractical to move the business, they might import people where their labor-copy is cheaper than the existent local status quo of copies of the labor-hour (legal or not, it appears they can flaunt any sort of moving the labor around laws they want to with no repercussions, wink wink, nudge nudge, not P2P but B2B "labor-hour pirating").

    Big business (and their sock puppets big government that they own completely and control now in the modern corporacracy (which is what are governments are now mostly) care not a whit how many "little people" are hurt economically, as long as their "cheap copy" business model stays intact. they promise and insist this is the "best method" possible for the modern economy.

    We are told by our business and governmental leaders that this is the new plan of the 21st century, that to be efficient, we need the cheapest copies of a good or labor-hour as possible, with the tradeoffs to those disposed of their previous employment that they will receive-cheaper copies of whatever-else, could be the same exact thing they used to make, and frequently is. Lather rinse repeat across the board in the employment world.

    The official rule now is, you accept globalization, take your day to day chances with your job, in exchange, big business and big government are promising "cheap copies" for you as a consumer. Of everything, no exceptions, the cheapest copies possible.

    OK, fair enough! That is the economic "deal" they have created for everyone to enjoy. Globalization rules! Cheap copies of everything for everyone!

    But...wait a minute..something isn't quite right here yet... exactly where are the "cheap copies" of digital bits "for sale" legally?

    We have this "cheap copy" replicator technology now that shows us the cost of making the cheap copies of digital bits is pretty low, amazingly low. But the business world insists on "legal" copies that are vastly higher in end user retail price than what their own globalization cheap copy models suggest should be the actual true "tradeoff price" according to their "you must accept globalization no matter what, it is the new law and practice" rules.

    Critics of that might say "you are leaving out the costs of producing the original in the first place, someone has to pay for that as well!". True enough as a criticism on the surface level, but let us go just *one* step below that and look at it.

    When big business, with big governments help and permission, moves non-digital bits copy manufacturing to the "cheaper to make copies" place, they are *also* sidestepping why this new move becomes cheaper. A primary reason is they can completely sidestep a series of societally imposed environmental regulations, or actual costs of production...they can "make more profit" by *not* paying their previously worked out societal "bill" or "cost of original production" of being a little more respective of our commons, the environment. They usually also-at the same new "cheaper to make copies" place- can get to use and exploit the "cheap copy" of lower cost per hour labor by being allowed to support local near-slave drivers tied to repressive regimes who can seriously exploit their own labor force slaves in complete avoidance-avoiding a previous production cost- to what they previously had to include in the cost of making copies, by ignoring such things as child labor laws, workplace safety, and so on. But see, that doesn't matter, as long as a "cheap copy" can then be resold back to "the consumer". That's the globalization trade structure we are under now.

    So that counter
  • by freaker_TuC ( 7632 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:21PM (#22393146) Homepage Journal
    Since when is the RIAA/MPAA or any other cartel Judge, Jury and Executioner together?

    For a long time, I thought there were laws and rights inbetween ...
  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:52PM (#22393604)
    Looking at the more serious problems with this proposed law, let me pose the following (true) scenarios to you.

    I live in the UK as does my grandma. She used to have support from government funded community workers for her shopping, because she isn't mobile they used to collect a shopping list from her weekly and would then go out and get her shopping and bring it back for her. Unfortunately she lives 200 miles away so it's not something we're able to help her with from here. The goverment reduced funding to this scheme such that they no longer support it for her, and when she asked what she was supposed to do she was told they will give her computing tutorials and help with providing internet access for her so she could shop online and have the supermarkets deliver to her, this wasn't as good as the previous scheme but it works in a similar way now she has the hang of it.

    So what happens if someone hijacks the wireless that came with her internet access that the goverment recommended and uses it for P2P getting her cut off? Is she supposed to just starve then or something? Another good example is homework, are kids without internet access meant to be at a disadvantage by being unable to perform decent research? I work in IT in the education sector and have recently encountered goverment proposals to get local-goverment supported IT kit and internet access to disadvantaged families so there appears to be a fair bit of evidence the goverment wants every kid to have net access when it comes to education.

    The problem is the goverment here in the UK have recently done things that suggest the internet is an essential service like electricity, gas, water, telephone which is great because it can indeed serve as such an important service. After they've gone to such great lengths to recognise it's importance how can they possibly turn around now and suggest it's something that can just be taken away when kids futures and pensioners lives quite literally depend on it?

    I'm not aware of any other crime in existence that would take away a service that is essential to both our children's future and our pensioners well being as a result of goverment proposed schemes.
  • Whoopee (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fastest fascist ( 1086001 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @03:18PM (#22395540)
    I can't wait for this type of legislation to snake its way into the country I live in. Why? We come well prepared already. The gov't here has instituted a "voluntary" filter list of "kiddie porn" sites (in quotes because, apparently, a lot of the sites on the list are completely legal porn) for ISPs to block, which they are now talking about extending to also cover gambling sites. So, we're making good progress in defining unwanted on-line activities already. If they additionally start banning people for file-sharing, why stop there? I mean, bad activity is bad activity, right? The logical step is then to also ban anyone who attempts to view the sites on the filter list, whatever they may be in a few years' time. I suspect the media industry won't be satisfied until everyone is banned from the internet, though.

    Buying a ship and heading off to sea is starting to sound more and more tempting.

Where there's a will, there's an Inheritance Tax.