Join Virgin Broadband! – Double standards?

Shiver me timbers! Virgin wants to fight those pesky pirates, however allegedly it still gives you up to 50mb broadband AND access to the alt.binaries.
Shiver me timbers! Virgin wants to fight those pesky pirates, however allegedly it still gives you up to 50mb broadband AND access to the alt.binaries.

Firstly I will need to repeat myself from previous articles, as I really dont want to have to do it countless times when the Microsoft faithful start putting libelous comments my way.

I am against piracy completely. Ive often said that some of the best features of the Net have been ruined and given a bad image by those who consider that someones IP is theirs for the taking (for example the BT protocol is excellent for Linux distros, IRC was once a haven for PD and FOSS & newsgroups are now flooded with pirated material).

I have seen firsthand the damage piracy can do to a firm and maybe why I have the belief that for those who complain DRM is the most evil thing since The Spice Girls, its the people who are downloading the copyrighted work who have encouraged its existence.  If everyone could be trusted to pay for the works they consumed, then there would be no need for DRM, would there?

I dont intend to make this article into one of my opinions on DRM (which I believe is a necessary evil) or piracy as a whole, so lets just agree to differ there.

The other thing that I hate is double standards.  Weve seen it with the Microsoft shillers or the posters who really dont know what they are talking about.  So this article is going to be about a little double standards IMO from Virgin Media Broadband.

Virgin Media very proudly advertises its broadband speeds, its adverts will tell you of optical cabling giving you great download speeds and a great online gaming experience.  Apparently though, whilst they advertise the fact you can download at great speed, its not copyrighted material they want you to download.

That in itself would be quite reasonable.   Virgin Media take the issue of illegal filesharing very seriously and have made press releases to this effect:

“We want people to enjoy music online without infringing the rights of musicians and music companies. This campaign is about helping our customers understand how they can do this.”

and how about this one:

“As a responsible ISP, Virgin Media is taking this problem seriously and would favour a sensible voluntary solution”

Like a Knight in shining armor Virgin Media charges ahead in its crusade against piracy, but take away the brave words of a press release and look a little deeper...
Like a Knight in shining armor Virgin Media charges ahead in its crusade against piracy, but take away the brave words of a press release and look a little deeper...

Fine sentiments?

Well not really IMO.  Whilst Virgin Media appears to be charging forward in its quest for fairness to artists, its at the same time recently increased its broadband to 50mb.

So I know what you are asking.  Whats the problem with all this?  How can it be double standards?  Let me continue…

Whilst Im sure Virgin Broadband will be doing their part to assist the BPI with issues surrounding the BT protocol, all parties concerned seem quite happy to let Virgin customers have access to newsgroups provided by them.  Including but not limited to alt.binaries.boneless which is a well known place to for pirated movies etc.

So my question is this.  Why does Virgin appear to take the moral highground on piracy? and surely if the Piratebay owners can end up in court for simply having meta data of a torrent on their server, wouldnt that make Virgin a case for the courts too with its newsgroup contents?

Theres no justification IMO for having a 50megabit connection for simply online gaming, so if they are suggesting its for files, what exactly are they proposing you download at that speed?  Maybe the BPI should consider that whilst Virgin is at the forefront of a brave new fight on piracy on one hand, its giving its users superfast access to copyrighted material on the newsgroups on the other.

Of course Virgin would say that they would not condone the use of newsgroups to infringe copyright, so I ask them, why have alt.binaries at all?

Virgin media have something to say about newsgroups.  This was taken from their site which can be found at

“Some groups allow subscribers to post or download not only text, but files like music, pictures or videos, these are known in the newsgroups world as binaries. As always, caution should be used when downloading files from the Internet, but you’ll find this a great way to share that killer song you’ve just mixed.”

Which to me really doesnt clear up Virgin media’s position.

I hope Im forgiven for thinking that whilst Virgin agrees with the ethos of anti-piracy, its also aware how enticing it is to customers.  Thats my opinion, Id like to hear yours.

Id suggest if Virgin Media is as committed to anti-piracy as it suggests, it starts by removing the alt.binaries newsgroups from its customers.

Somehow I dont think that will happen.

In my opinion something needs to be done about piracy NOW.  Whilst I may have no love for certain Microsoft products, I would not condone the piracy of any IP.  IMO the people who are tasked with tackling this problem really dont have much of an idea of how to do it, if they did there would not the rise in popularity of certain BT trackers and the problem worsening as more and more people learn where to go.

The most dangerous time for any company is in recession.  Add a piracy problem to that and your asking for trouble.  People who download movies may justify that behaviour because “the DVD’s are too expensive” but if the result of that piracy ends in the closure of that company or the ending of that product line then everyone looses regardless of your views on the cost of the product.

Goblin –


5 thoughts on “Join Virgin Broadband! – Double standards?

Add yours

  1. Hey Goblin…Isn’t this the reason we left MS…Because of constantly being spyed on by the MS Corp? While I don’t condone piracy…But I do feel in the the same if my ISP is gonna start monitoring my internet activity….packet sniffing or ever how they do it !! I pay my bill every month…Isn’t this is what MS does with the WGA…assume you are already a criminal…Guilty until proven innocent…At least in here in the U.S. I have already lost enough on my Privacy…If I remember right the Internet was never supposed to governed by any entity what so ever…Seems to me the ISP’s are doing to the Internet is what MS did the their desktop….Police your activities …This is wrong on every moral level I can think of…I was brought up I was I was Innocent until proven Guilty….Marlon

  2. Just another quick thought…When I pay my ISP bill I am paying them for 1 thing & 1 thing only…To make sure I can access the Internet…Just like when I go but blank DVD’s…I do not want the cashier to ask “What are the purpose of these DVD’s?”…that is they are ready assuming that your are already using them for assuming illegal purposes !!

  3. Hi!
    Very good points. Deep packet inspection for example IMO violates a users privacy and just because they may be downloading copyrighted material I dont believe it gives ISP’s or anyone else the right to offer internet access on one hand and then monitor and sue for breaching copyright on the other.

    However its not that simple.

    We all know that there are activities on the net that are alot more serious, indecent material, fraud etc and for that reason whilst I hold with the ethos of free speech, I actually see the need (and support) deep packet inspection and other methods to detect these criminals.

    Ive said before, I have no problem with someone monitoring my internet usage, there are many people who will disagree and say that monitoring users is wrong, but I personally think that it would be for the greater good if the criminals who have twisted the net over the years have less of a place to hide.

    In the case of Virgin, they seem to be selling fast speeds and warez newsgroups on one hand, whilst being holier than thou and working with the BPI on the other (IMO)

    Youre completely correct about the DVD issue, and the same could be said about the R4 that I bought. Whilst I use it as a dev tool for a few small projects, others will use it as a piracy device.

    I think just like the internet, its the intention not the medium that is fault.(just like in the days of twin tape recorders and 8bit computers)

    Thanks for posting.

  4. Hi Goblin,

    It’s been a while, I’ve been dwelling in underground “dungeon-like” data centers, so it’s good to get out once in a while.

    IMO the term “pirate” is poorly used, interpreted and gives the illegal trafficker of copyrighted content a non-deserved stigma. The traffiker should be labeled for what he/she is; a thief, nothing more, nothing less. It’s not a violent/traumatic crime.

    Pirates are associated more with violent crimes (rape, pillage amongst other crimes) at sea.

    The english word “pirate” is derived from the Latin term pirata and that from Greek πειρατής (peirates) “brigand”, ultimately from πεῖρα (peira) “attempt, experience”, implicitly “to find luck on the sea”. The word is also cognate to peril. In 17th and 19th century sources the word is often rendered “pyrate”.

    However, the term does not exclusively relate to robbery committed at sea, as other similar origins have a broader definition. The correct definition would be ‘travelers of the sea.’

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