BT starts threatening music downloaders with internet cut-off
BPI wins another ISP ally
Updated BT, the UK's largest broadband provider, has begun threatening subscribers with disconnection from the internet if it is told they are sharing copyright music over peer-to-peer networks, The Register has learned.
The firm recently sent an email to one of its four million retail broadband customers, who asked not to be named, alleging that she had illegally participated in a network sharing of Biology, a song by Girls Aloud.
The email reproduces evidence collected by the BPI. It purports to show she used the open source filesharing program Ares in May this year to infringe sound recording copyright. Ares can be used as a client for both Gnutella and BitTorrent networks.
Geoff Taylor, chief of UK record industry trade body the BPI, told The Register in a statement today: "Establishing partnerships with ISPs is the number one issue for the BPI, and we are beginning to form positive working relationships with BT, Virgin Media and most of the other major ISPs."
It's unclear whether BT has agreed to formally implement the record industry's preferred "three strikes" procedure that would see those accused of infringing music copyright warned twice and suspended or disconnected from the internet.
Taylor continued: "Everyone agrees on where we need to be, and we are working closely with our colleagues across the music community, the more progressive ISPs, and government to get us there."
BT said: "We don't comment on commercial relationships and communications with individual customers." A spokesman said BT broadband customers who are infringing copyright over peer-to-peer networks can expect a similar threat if the BPI provides evidence against them.
Accusations and evidence
The BPI evidence BT shared with its customer consists of the Ares user agent, a timestamp, a file name and an IP number. BT's letter, from a member of its "Customer Security Team" states: "I have received a complaint regarding one of our customers offering copyrighted material over the internet. On investigation, I have found that your account was used to make this offer."
Collecting this kind of evidence does not require ISPs to monitor their customers' internet connection. BPI investigators are simply able to collect lists of IP numbers participating in copyright-infringing peer-to-peer networks and trace which operator they belong to. Assuming the ISP has agreed to do so, it can then identify the individual account holder without sharing personal information with the BPI.
Committed downloaders are able to take technical counter-measures to dodge detection, but the record industry is hoping to win back the mass market - it knows the hardcore are lost for good.
The BT letter goes on to threaten that if the customer continues to fileshare illegally, her broadband account will be shut down: "Sorry, but we're obliged to point out that further similar problems may have to lead to the termination of your account, as such activity contravenes BT's Acceptable Use Policy." It recommends that she ensure her Wi-Fi connection is secure, remove all filesharing software from her computer, and pass the warning on to the rest of her household.
In the BPI letter forwarded to the customer by BT, the trade body says it will look out for further illegal filesharing on her account. "If further evidence is obtained of infringement via your internet connection," it writes, "then further action is likely to be taken against you. That action may include litigation against you, as well as the suspension by BT of your internet connection."
Next page: Education and threats
""Agents of the BPI are likely to participate in downloads repeatedly in order to monitor who else is participating."
I know that it's OK in the US to have break the law in order to catch potential baddies -which is ridiculous and dictatorial-, but it's only true when you're mandated by a law enforcement agency to do so. The BPI is NOT a law enforcement agency (their mercenary even less so). Plus I think that engaging in illegal activities to catch wrongdoers is not yet acceptable as a whole in the UK (which is good)."
And since when has downloading material that you already own ever been illegal?
Face it, they have more right to participate in illegal swarms than anyone else!
Shooting people is illegal. However, in America they have a legal right to kill thieves on their land! Go figure. A server dishing out material illegally would be fair game for a DDoS attack, and would probably have legal support if requests for it to stop failed.
The BPI is trying to get justice for its members - everyone has to make a living, and the law is on THEIR side, not the leechers.
Would you also like to ban store detectives too because they try to prevent shoplifting?
@CockKnocker, encryption is no defence - it only hides content, not ports or involvement. If your ip was noticed to be involved in a swarm downloading the latest film, and the ISP shows you to be logged on at the time, then you could conceivably get a knock at the door and a search warrant for your hard drives, and be arrested if they are also encrypted and you don't provide the key. If you used open proxies, then the traffic can also be traced through a chain of machines - tedious, but possible.
Such is the direction that rampant p2p and terrorism laws are forcing us into, and no, I would not at all be happy about this either!
So why should people get stuff for free and rip off those that deserve to be paid for the work they do? I agree that the record companies are greedy and can be overpriced, but market forces of supply and demand should dictate that. If they want to charge too much and few will buy, then they can go and sit on it. Artists also have another option and can go direct to their audience.
p2p has changed the media industry forever and forced the industry to reconsider their practises. As legal downloads have minimal distribution costs and there are many competitors then prices should be affordable and noone should complain about paying for something that gives pleasure that someone has worked damned hard to produce.
Re: Practical CounterMeasures
Actually, I'd use the blocklists as a whitelist. Anything I share out there is to the licensed agents of the copyright holders (unless it's copyright me), so no problem letting them take a copy. Anything they share with me is from the licensed agents of the copyright holders (unless they are going to be in the dock with me).
Ergo, anything I do find is fine and anything they find is either putting them in jail or fine too.
Just a few comments.
Disclaimer, I can't think of anything more crap than current 'music,' have no interest in american 'movies', have no interest in gaming or such activities so have no real interest in p2p per se.
I don't see how the self appointed arbiters of law, BT and BPI, are able to use this kind of monitoring to prevent file sharing on the flimsiest of evidence while letting people who are part of a known botnet keep using their account. If it's good enough for one perceived breach of law it should be good enough for all.
I partly concurr that the responsibility for securing a router should be the consumer, but the ISP should help by blocking / informing these compromised users. As they don't I can only assume that they are scared of losing income from these people. If so, why are they happy to lose file sharing customers ? How much, or what, are they getting in return from the BPI ?
Another thought for ISP's: I would think that quite a lot of customers are signing up for their expensive packages because they want to share files or download music / movies, utube etc. How will this type of ruling by an ISP affect their income stream? Do theyconsider that paying customers are secondary to the ridiculous demands of a dying industry that can't see where it's going wrong ?
Sorry, I can't understand the short sighted view taken by ISP's and the like in situations like this.