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ISP whacks game fan with $24,000 bandwidth fine

Halo movie posting made mincemeat of 500MB download limit

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An online gaming fan has been hit with a $6000 invoice from his ISP and is set to receive another, for $24,000 - all for posting a movie of upcoming Bungie X-box title Halo on his personal Web site.

The movie is a copy of an Nvidia advertisement that features Halo in action, running on the 3D graphics company's hardware. The ad appeared back in July, and was shown at MacWorld Expo in New York. US-based Halo fan 'Cannibal Harry' managed to grab the ad, digitise it and decided to post it on his site, for other fans to enjoy.

And enjoy it they did. Harry posted two versions of the movie - one a whopping 45MB, the other, at 32MB, not much smaller - and both proved something of a hit among gamers. Together they led to 62GB worth of data that was downloaded Harry's site during July that his ISP, Earthlink, now wants paying for.

Bad enough, you might think, but a closer look at his site access log showed that during September, some 4500GB (4,500,000MB) were downloaded - resulting in a $24,000 charge.

The scale of the bills appears to arise because Cannibal Harry has a total monthly transferred data limit of 500MB, and, like a bank faced with an overdrawn customer, Earthlink has slapped him with massive extra charges. Earthlink isn't alone here - many ISPs levy significant penalties from customers who surpass their bandwidth limits.

That may explain why the ISP didn't drop its customer a line to let him know he'd reached his limit. Harry is talking to Earthlink at the moment to reduce the extra charge.

Now, Earthlink charges ten cents for every megabyte downloaded above the 500MB per month limit. By our reckoning, Harry owes around $450,000 for September, so we assume his bandwidth usage was somewhat lower than claimed (ie. 240GB), or Earthlink has already cut his bill down to 24 grand. The figure of $24,000 comes from Rampancy.net, which first revealed Cannibal Harry's woeful tale.

Either way, it's one hell of invoice to receive, and the guy is undoubtedly going round the bend with worry. Who wouldn't? For its part, Earthlink probably has little chance of recovering the debt, and would do well to come to an arrangement.

So let this salutary tale be a warning to any of you folks thinking of posting the odd QuickTime movie of Doom 3 or whatever: careless posting costs hard cash. ®

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Rampancy.net's story

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