Feeds

Small and mobile ISPs may avoid new filesharing laws

Rumours of the death of public Wi-Fi exaggerated

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Exclusive Regulators are considering creating loopholes in the implementation of the Digital Economy Act to allow small, mobile and Wi-Fi ISPs to avoid its copyright enforcement regime.

A suggested threshold system would take into account an ISP's size and the costs of compliance before imposing the Act's provisions against unlawful filesharing.

The new law allows ISPs who are not considered large carriers of copyright infringing material to be exempted, and gives Ofcom scope to define the considerations.

A threshold would mean dozens of small fixed-line ISPs would be likely to avoid sending warning letters to customers on behalf of rights holders, as the extra staff required would represent a large cost to them.

Many smaller outfits would also need to purchase new equipment if, as is widely expected, after a year the written warnings have not significantly cut copyright infringement by filesharers and ISPs are required to apply technical measures. These are likely to include restricting the bandwidth or protocols available to those repeatedly accused of unlawful filesharing.

Similarly, mobile broadband providers would find retrieving customer details to send a warning letter request for music or film industry monitoring teams an expensive task. They typically serve all their internet users from a tiny pool of shared IP addresses and are not set up to easily discover who was responsible for a connection to a BitTorrent swarm at a particular time.

Claims by digital rights activists during the Act's passage through Parliament that public Wi-Fi hotspots will be closed down could also be undermined by the threshold. Since users typically use them for short periods, Wi-Fi ISPs are unlikely to be considered a major source of copyright infringement.

Ofcom is considering the system during a series of hastily-convened meetings with major ISPs and rights holder organisations after the Digital Economy Act became law on 9 April. The communications regulator is tasked with completing or approving a Code of Practice within eight months, including three months waiting for approval from the European Commission.

The discussions raise the possibility that only the largest consumer ISPs, who dominate the market, would be affected. Between them, BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange and O2 provide more than 95 per cent of the home broadband connections and filesharing that rights holders plan to target.

Smaller ISPs have not been invited to the meetings, which has prompted some consternation, but also hope that this is a sign that regulators plan to exclude them from the most controversial parts of the Digital Economy Act.

Sources who have been to the meetings say a threshold has not yet been set, but there is seemingly no desire from the music and film industries to impose the Act on small ISPs.

An Ofcom spokeswoman denied smaller ISPs had been excluded from discussions, which she said were ongoing.

"We need to consider a number of different options before setting out some formal proposals in our consultation – nothing is decided before then," she said, declining to comment on where a threshold for compliance with the Act could be set. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday
Customer: 'Please change your name to occasionally somewhere'
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?