UK ISPs in government deal to end illegal file sharing

Peer to peer file sharing

Peer to peer file sharing

Click here to read the BBC News story on the background to this article.

Every month I pay a subscription fee. In return they provide me with access to millions upon billions of bytes of data, posted to UseNet (the original inter-connected-network) – which, when de-coded properly, represents everything from text conversations on scientology and how-to build lego machine guns, to binary file attachments containing MP3 music and MP4 video files (and a fair amount of Frankie Vaughan pics too).

I’ve used AND PAID FOR access to this server for years. I don’t particularly care for the fact that I have no idea who Easynews are, but they don’t appear to have sold my credit card details to anyone thus far and they do provide a service which delivers on its promises; A fast, reliable connection to the content I want, when I want it.

That content, 99.9% of the time, is material which simply wouldn’t be “out there” were it not for people, who share my tastes in music, sharing their collection with me so that I might share mine with them.

It should come as no surprise to those of you who know me, that I do not download modern chart music form the top 40 – far from it and I rather suspect, the day the charts comprise a heady mix of Frank Zappa bootlegs and rare Prince TV appearance video clips, will be the day hell freezes over.

My taste in movies is slightly more traditional, in that I have no time for blockbuster monster movies, action heroes or comic book fantasy – but I do occasionally wait for such titles to be shown on pay-per-view movie channels, where I can view them as intended; with my family, in High Definition, with great sound, in a comfortable seat, eating popcorn – but without having to sit at an uncomfortable angle to peep over some fat smelly boy’s head.

On the whole, though, I prefer watching independent cinema with movies that have powerful story lines told by strong character actors – not, in other words, the kind of movies that get widespread theatrical release or a particularly large marketing budget and certainly not the kind of thing Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV are interested in showing on any of their movie channels.

Where am I to go to access the movies and music I want, if the legitimate channels of distribution don’t see a profit in making them available to me? The answer my friend is peer to peer – and there is nothing some half arsed scheme, designed to frighten me into thinking that my ISP is watching everything I do, can do to stop me.

If we are to presume the UK ISPs can track every single file I download, to such a degree of accuracy that they can tell the difference between a track which is copyrighted material and one which is covered by creative commons licensing, then are we to assume they can also tell me where I send the cheque to the artist I am listening to, and that he or she will get paid directly?

Since this seems to be the biggest concern of BPI, I look forward to this feature of their proposed legitimate download service being rolled out – although I won’t be holding my breath, since I suggest that, in fact, their concerns are rather more to do with the deficit between the projected revenues their greedy little salivations envisaged through their out-dated distribution models and the actual figures they look likely to skim from the artists who actually created the music in the first place, post “the peer to peer generation”.


3 comments on “UK ISPs in government deal to end illegal file sharing

  1. Of course the reality of all of this is that the ISPs have been dragged into this kicking and screaming and hence how much effort will they in practice put into enforcement; especially given the ingenuity of the guys out there determined to bypass any controls? I would be interested to see how much time and money they are willing to invest in capturing and decrypting gigabytes of data flowing across their networks; as opposed to the reality of maintaining market share and growing their businesses. The chairman of CPW has already made his view extremely clear on this.

  2. That’s a very good point, but I detect an air of optimism in your tone – it’s Britain we’re talking about here, where industry always lays down and rolls over for the government. Now, I agree, the practicalities of decrypting terabytes of daily traffic on the off-chance it contains data with file names that check off against a BPI ban list are simply impossible – but the vast majority of the public won’t think about that. This is a scare tactic designed to alter the behaviour of the occasional illegal downloader, who simply can’t be arsed to go down town, pay to park and buy the new Amy Shitehouse CD from HMV and downloads it instead.

    The hardcore P2P users, meanwhile, who want stuff that the “legitimate” channels wont sell them, will simply figure out ways of encrypting their connection and similarly configure BitTorrent to ignore non-encrypted peers. The engineer at an ISP who figures out how to crack 128 bit cyphers on the fly, just to catch MP3 traders, deserves the Nobel prize. When I last checked, my ISP – Virgin Media – had a section on their application form to be filled in by monkeys and fish with an IQ of 20 or less – so I won’t be holding my breath for a cease and desist to land on my doorstep that has any credibility to it.

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