Good Grief!

Could one ofour resident tecchies comment upon this?

All those who are suspected of wrongly downloading pirated material will receive a warning email for the first offence, a temporary suspension from going online for the second and if they commit a third crime they will find their web contract will be terminated, under the new proposals.

Every broadband company will be expected to enforce these rules and firms who fail to adhere to the guidelines could be prosecuted.

Could you tell me whether this is in fact technically feasible? And by that I mean at anything approaching a reasonable cost?

I can\’t see how an ISP can be expected to tell the difference between somoone using BitTorrent legally and somone using it illegally. So it all seems a bit of a non-starter to me, but anyone actually know?

13 comments on “Good Grief!

  1. “Could you tell me whether this is in fact technically feasible? And by that I mean at anything approaching a reasonable cost?”

    More to the point, legally feasible. You see, if your wifi was hijacked (and yes, you may have put WEP on it), or your Windows PC was hijacked and used as a proxy, then you’d get the blame, warnings, fines, and blacklisting for someone else’s criminal behaviour.

    Taking someone offline these days amounts to criminal levels of punishment, so there has to be the presumption of innocence and a fair trial. Any law compelling an ISP to do this as a proxy for the state would fall under the HRA.

    It’s yet another example of Broonian Motion: do nothing for ages then lash out with half-baked crap that falls apart as soon as it encounters the real world, requiring spin and “reviews”, beginning the whole pathetic cycle again.

    Tim adds: Broonian Motion. That’s wonderful, I shall have to steal that phrase.

  2. Good luck with that, pretty much every time people go online they are accessing copyright material without permission. A visit to youtube and your three chances are up. Unenforceable. Besides, programs like Metlab’s Peerguardian cloak the uses of P2P software even further. Frankly, I can’t see the broadband company’s keeping up.

  3. ” Frankly, I can’t see the broadband company’s keeping up.”

    I can’t see them caring too much or trying too hard, either.

  4. If this goes ahead, I wonder how long it will take for the first spams to appear apparently giving you your first warning and suggesting you click on a link to resolve the situation before you get disconnected…

  5. “click on a link to resolve the situation before you get disconnected…”

    How about the links pointing to real pirated material that will then trigger real warnings? Hehehe.

    Oh, this Government is an evil-doers delight. If only I were evil, I could have such fun.

  6. The problem is determining between legal and illegal material. The RIAA / BPI answer is to certify the method – Napster (now) good, iTunes good, BitTorrent and pretty much everything else bad.

    Watermarks don’t work – so …

    To determine whether material is copyright or not, you would either need intrusive and expensive human-level monitoring or a vast black-list of copyright material. The latter could be hashed and compared to hashes of what is being downloaded. This fails at the first hurdle because you only need a single bit difference to my rip of, say, “Born to Run” and the master version and the hash fails.

    It is simply impractical – never mind probably impossible.

    And, here is the killer:

    All those who are suspected of wrongly downloading pirated material will receive a warning email for the first offence.

    Where is the trial bit? The actual transition between suspect and offender? Has it just happened automagically? No presumption of innocence?

    Oh, and James H is almost certainly right. I suspect the fraudsters will have the phishing emails out before the first ISP has a working implementation.

  7. Even if it were to work in the short term, the next p2p app after BitTorrent will almost certainly use point-to-point encryption to render network traffic un-inspectable by one’s ISP.

  8. ISP’s are in a constant war against P2P programmes. They hog bandwidth and impact service quality for most customers. This is why all ISP’s have a fair use policy.

    I’ll go further and say its more like an arms race. We spend vast amounts of money on equipment so we can monitor the traffic and “throttle” P2P traffic, especially in the busy hour. The P2P companies then change the protocol in some way so we can’t find them.

    To find out exactly what is going on requires deep packet inspection. Doing this for all traffic can have serious affect on quality, especially for VoIP.

    Finally, just because traffic is P2P doesn’t make it pirated. To be 100% sure I suppose we would have to reconstruct the traffic and then find the copyright owner and see if it is pirated.

    I suspect the ISP’s will be having a quiet word in somebody’s shell like at them moment because this is impractical, to put it politely.

  9. The instigator of such action won’t be the government or ISP but the copyright holder or their agents.

    BitTorrent is decentralised. That means that when you grab a file, you grab from one of a number of people known to the tracker. When someone gets a file, they get it from your IP address. From the IP address, you can trace through to the final person (most ISPs have dynamic addressing but of course, keep records of who used what address at what time).

    So, all it takes is for a copyright holder to join the tracker, and when someone sends them a chunk of the file, they’re illegally sharing the content.

  10. “and when someone sends them a chunk of the file, they’re illegally sharing the content.”

    Making the teeny, but vital, assumption that the “someone” who sends them a chunk of the file is the same “someone” that has the account with the ISP.

    You see, already today much of the Spam is run from hijacked Windows 95 machines. It’s no good tracing the Spam to an IP address because the poor little old lady on the receiving end of a door-busting SWAT raid has no clue as to what’s been going on.

  11. “This is nonsense on stilts.”

    c.f. glorifying terrorism, suspect control orders, GPS ankle bracelets, ID cards, incitement to religious hatred, satellite-based road pricing, legally binding carbon caps, non-dom laffer levy, etc. etc.

    “Nonsense on stilts” and “New Labour” are related by more than being phrases beginning with “N”.

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