The slow and painful death of the internet as we know it

The UK’s biggest Internet Service Provider, Virgin Media, is set to adopt a pilot scheme which could see them sending thousands of letters to their own customers, warning them for illegally downloading music and movies from the internet.

How exactly Virgin plan on monitoring the “three strikes and you’re out” system, isn’t yet clear, but if their recent deal with Phorm is anything to go by, it would seem likely that they plan on simply snooping wholesale on any and all traffic which flows over certain port ranges, deemed to be suspect.

4872-4042virginmediabiglogo.jpgPort 8080, which is used for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol has already been sold to Phorm, so that their software can build up a picture of customer surfing habits, to better target them with in-browser adverts from Phorm’s content partners. Now it would seem that UDP ports 6881, 6999, 7000, 2710 and others used by default in the most popular BitTorrent clients like Azureus and LH-ABC, are to be monitored so that any customer who might be using them to retrieve files of a certain type, such as MP3 audio and MPG video, can be blacklisted if they continue to use them to break the law.

How, exactly, Virgin plan on differentiating between legitimate, freely available copyright-free files, such as those from the thousands of independent, unsigned artists worldwide who want no part of the rip-off cartel which is the music business, is unclear – but it can only be a matter of time before the false positives start rolling in, once the scheme is launched.

One way they could ensure only media which has been legitimately acquired is allowed to flow over their network, into private homes, is to cordon off only those sites which are owned and operated by Virgin Media content affiliates. This recording association’s wet dream would, as an unfortunate side effect, completely demolish the most impressive human achievement since it was first decided it might not be such a bad idea to use our front feet as hands – but apart from that, at least Madonna’s bank balance would just about stay in the black.

Of course, the large-scale bootleggers, using counterfeit CD and DVD sales as a front for drug running and child prostitution and slave trafficking, would continue unabated to flood the emerging economies of China, Africa and India in greater volumes than ever before. The bent engineers at the mastering plants will still manage to squeeze out a few thousand copies of the “for your consideration” glass master discs to Hollywood blockbuster movies every year, which should be just enough to keep Mister Big (and therefore hard to arrest) happy.

Meanwhile, because it isn’t cool to like music that wasn’t recorded more than 5 minutes ago these days, ordinary people in the silent majority, who just want to support their favourite artist, who’s back-catalogue is now owned by Evil Inc., have to hand over £9.99 for an 8 song disc, less than 1% of the retail price for which goes to the artist, containing 6 songs the fan already owns three times over on compilation albums which cost twenty times less to produce than it does to pay the artist to record some new material and go on the road.

Since for all my complaining Virgin are going to do this anyway; and since 99.9% of the population don’t give a shit, because the Daily Mail have told them not to, here’s a short list of demands which might sweeten the pill and convince me to go along with this evil scheme.

  • Virgin Media. When I call you up, to tell you for the 20th time that the kids down the road have kicked open your paper thin green box with all the wires in it, again, you will answer in English from a call centre in Britain. You will say “please” and “thank you”. You will actually fix the green box at the end of the road. In return, I will pay you a monthly fee for your services and might even occasionally watch the 90’s American sit-com drivel you erroneously describe as ‘entertainment’ on your advert riddled, low resolution, MPEG artefact ruined excuse for a TV channel.
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  • Sony BMG. When you sign a contract with an artist, you will make it a requirement of their contract that they tour with a live band, made up of musicians who can actually play their instruments, without auto-tuned vocals or backing tracks, in every part of the world where the album makes more in disc sales, radio play and other revenue streams, than the album cost to produce. In the case of an artist who doesn’t want to play all-live, let them sign to someone else. Yes, that’s right, turn them away. The world, I can assure you, isn’t going to stop spinning, because it is deprived of yet another moron who thinks “famous” is a job description.

Is that asking too much?

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