Sky blocks the Pirate Bay – Pointless and hypocritical?

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Its now a few days since Sky blocked its customers from Pirate Bay after the High Court ruling encompassing UK ISP’s.

In the time its taken for ISP’s to get their act together and ban it, already, numerous other methods of access have become available rendering the initial ruling effectively useless and serving to do nothing but bring more publicity to the Tracker that refuses to go down no matter where the pressure comes from.

With that in mind, it was interesting to read in the Telegraph a press release from Sky in relation to this ban:

We have invested billions of pounds in high-quality entertainment for our customers because we know how much our customers value it….It’s therefore important that companies like ours do what they can, alongside the government and the rest of the media and technology industries, to help protect their copyright.

Source: Telegraph

So the question now needs to be asked, if Sky did indeed feel this way why did it take a High Court ruling in order for them to ban it? Why had they not banned it themselves years ago? And in addition, why did Sky take so long after the ruling to actually get the block in place?

A suspicious minded person might say that Sky knew if it had banned the Pirate Bay before it was ordered by a court, it may have seen its customers go elsewhere.  Where’s the ban on the other “big name” Trackers if Sky feels this way?

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Mail: bytes4free@googlemail.com
Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on freenode.net.

No P2P for Irish Vodaphone customers? – and then a change of mind?

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Vodaphone, the provider of mobile and broadband services has allegedly prohibited the use of p2p protocols on its networks albeit verbally.  Whilst a p2p blow to the phone service would be bad enough, the fact that they have taken the step to hit the desktop services aswel would be for many, a step too far.

Looking past the customers that would be driven to other providers who have not taken this stance, I would like to address a point raised by The Mad Hatter and where previously my own lack of foresight negated to consider a potential problem when p2p was linked with “piracy”.

About a month ago, fellow tech writer The Mad Hatter remarked in my comments section that the relationship created by anti-piracy groups between p2p and piracy had an intention of endangering the p2p ethos as a whole.  I dismissed this at the time and cited that many trackers (in the case of BitTorrent) which do not infringe copyright and for this reason, p2p will never be attacked itself.  Now it appears I was wrong (or certainly that there could be a distinct possibility in the foreseeable future).  The terms Vodaphone had stated seem to have no regard for the content of the data packets and have opted for a blanket ban on all p2p trafic – lawful, unlawful or anything inbetween.

The issue is was reported on Torrentfreak, and whilst this prohibition appears to be in the T&C only, not a physical ban users obviously still could make their own judgement call on if they followed it.

Torrentfreak (which reports on these matters) followed up the article with enquiries to Vodaphone and there now appears on the boards to be a clarification:

Hiya folks,
We’ve recieved clarification that there will be no restriction on peer to peer usage, the information there is incorrect, and is currently being removed.

Source: http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=67878640&postcount=31

Could this “clarification” be as a result of Torrentfreak enquiries and the realization that customers might move?  Could the original “prohibition” been placed to exonerate Vodaphone of any possible legal responsibility in the case of a civil action against one of its customers?  But more importantly was this “two liner” press release shoved out quickly as damage limitation for a change of heart?  Certainly the fact that the Vodaphone representative can’t spell “received” would suggest that to me thats the case.

Whilst Vodaphone may be a popular provider (and this matter now “resolved”- no pun intended) looking at recent complaints from customers it appears that there are signal issues in some area’s of the country with the Vodaphone service, so maybe regardless of their stance on p2p, you may want to visit here first.  This is a selection of allegations about poor Vodaphone service from that link:

I live in a rural area in North Dorset and have never had any luck with my Vodaphone dongle. I often have have to wait 2 mins or so to view a web page and sending emails are impossible. I took the laptop into town and tried to use it and It still was as bad and within view of a vodaphone mast!


Vodafone… Mobile “”Broadband?””,,,,, not even close


Ive been trying to use my vodafone mobile broadband dongle for two months. The average upload/download speed is 4.8kbs, thats right, kilobites. If youve been thinking of buying, dont waste your money on vodafone.

So regardless of the stance Vodaphone takes on P2p, it won’t really matter for these customers (if the complaints are accurate).

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

NewsBytes – Thursday 2nd September 2010

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uTorrent for Linux nearly here!

I reported a few months back that due to popular demand (so much for an alleged 0.8% Linux usage) the makers of uTorrent announced that they would be releasing a Linux version of the popular Windows binary. uTorrent server has just been released for Linux and a full client is due in the coming weeks.

The creators of uTorrent say on their blog:

When we started our Idea Bank a few months ago, a Linux version was immediately the most requested feature, and has stayed #1 ever since.  We’ve heard you loud and clear, and today, we’ve taken a notable first step toward making it a reality……

Today’s version is only the first step, and we will continue to support the Linux user community with new versions in the near future. If you prefer to stick to more conventional user experience, rest assured we are working hard to build a full-featured client, coming soon. µTorrent Linux will offer the same clean and full featured UI that millions of users of of µTorrent on Windows have enjoyed.  We are hoping to get this out to you for testing in a few months. Stay tuned!

Source: http://blog.bittorrent.com/2010/09/02/introducing-µtorrent-server-for-linux/

Microsoft IE market share drops again?

Its being reported over at ITProPortal that Microsoft’s browser is dropping in popularity again:

The overall market share of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser fell by 0.34 per cent in August to end up at 60.4 per cent, despite a rise of 1.03 per cent in IE8’s marketshare.

Source: ITProPortal

Why bother with Windows when theres KDE?

Bruce Byfield has written a very interesting article entitled “7 things you can do in KDE but not in Windows”  A good read and makes a very valid point which Microsoft Advocates will do anything to stop you from believing (since for many of them claim Linux is hobbyist):

What I am saying is that KDE far outstrips Windows 7 in features that enhance the way you work on the desktop …. if I want functionality comparable to Windows on the operating system of my choice, I can turn to minimalist desktops like LXDE or Xfce — all of which run with much less hard disk space or RAM than Windows 7

Source: Datamation

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

DCC, Bittorrent and Usenet – Is Bittorrent so great?

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The days of Micronet are long gone.....were you one of its members?

I’ve written many articles touching on this subject, but I wanted to look at it with a little more detail as whilst we see a massive surge in Net traffic in regards to file sharing ; as is often the case, has the best tech “won”?  Since the vast magority of file-sharing on a p2p network is infringing copyright, it seems relevant that this article covers this topic encompassing all file sharers, lawful or not.

I don’t want this article to be one of debating the rights and wrongs of copyright law, nor if  “all data should be free” , I’ve made my stance on copyright infringement very clear and whilst I think there are massive flaws in copyright law (and the means in which its enforced) I cannot condone nor support infringing of copyright.  If the law changes, great.  If it doesn’t, people shouldn’t intentionally infringe on copyright just because they don’t happen to agree with the law that governs it.  This article hopes to look at the tech from both sides of the argument.

Regardless of what you download though, I want to look at if the praise millions give to BitTorrent is actually deserved.

Before the days of the Internet when computers with 48k were deemed sufficient, I was one of a few who were accessing Micronet.  Little did I know at the time (when I was downloading lawfully free software onto tape) was that I was taking the first steps into what would be a global phenomena and eventually something which would become so large, even the best of ISP’s could buckle under the demand to feed their end users hunger for data.

Whilst the web has become a multi-media experience and moved on from it’s “Ceefax” looking roots, this article is to focus more on some of the file-sharing technologies and ask the question; Is BitTorrent so great?

In the early days of BitTorrent, trackers were fewer in number and the technology was a rather unknown entity to anyone who didn’t have a computing hobby everything was going along very nicely……

Things changed though, when the average Joe got into the action and went quickly downhill from then on.   Law firms such as ACS:Law can cast their proverbial nets out into a swarm, collecting the copyright infringing fish who really don’t have much of a clue as to the implications of their actions – too busy in a gorging frenzy of a media rich diet containing movies, music and games….

Happy times for those that seek to generate revenue from these infringing fish, bad news for everyone else whose connection strains under the weight and whose experience of most trackers is a mass copyright infringing files.

Whats great about BitTorrent?

I would suppose that the one “advantage” of BitTorrent is that there are no costs for “hosting” files or bandwidth, but this is does make you very reliant on there being seeders within the swarm.  How often have you entered a swarm, only to have the seeders make an exit and leave everyone else with a partially completed file?

In the days of the Amiga, sharing was in the main achieved by post. Could we see a return since BitTorrent is so open for many?

It’s often touted as a way to “speed up your downloads, make them fly!” which to me who has used the tech over a number of years and  was one of the “first of the few” when it came to adopting it onto my desktop has never seen evidence of.   I still regularly use Linuxtracker, but over all the years of using BitTorrent, Ive yet to see this blisteringly fast speed (or at least speeds which outdo anything that I get from Usenet or even DCC)

We have to also consider that BitTorrent provides a rather simple means (for those who download copyrighted works) for companies such as ACS:Law to make money.  Would we have these cases at all if average Jo had stayed away from the tech? and if there is to be a clampdown with legislation on the technology itself, can we not blame the millions who use it download copyright infringing material?

So when taken like this, what is so great about BitTorrent?  I think it comes down to simplicity of accessing /finding materials and it happens to be the tech that the mainstream has jumped on, since it is rather simple to understand.

But Private trackers are safe!

No they are not (in respect of private trackers and “warez”)  For the most part “private” trackers are simply public trackers which require login and have a ratio.  Are people really believing that the same companies who harvest IP’s on public trackers can’t join the private ones?  after all, you have.  One could even argue that private trackers are more “damning” as it would be simpler to build up a portfolio of evidence on an individual with often less peers in the swarm and more of a community in them.  I won’t dwell on this point though, because my argument is that BitTorrent is not such a great tech as some like to promote.

Looking at Usenet/DCC

So now we look at alternatives to BitTorrent.  Usenet, the home to many offers far greater speeds than anything I have achieved with the BitTorrent protocol.  Recently I downloaded a collection of Amiga demo scene tracks which was approximately 250mb in size.  Grabbing the file from Usenet binaries, I saw speeds of approximately 500k per second on my connection.  Comparing it like for like on the identical file on a public BitTorrent tracker, I maxed out at around 130k per second –  This wasn’t helped by the fact that there were only 2 seeders in the swarm, but even so, it highlights my point of the peer being dependent on the seeder (and other sharing peers) in order for the transfer to be effective.  Usenet has no such issues – providing the file hasn’t dropped out of the retention period (and with most providers that’s around a couple of years) then I can guarantee a fast transfer.

Usenet is also different to BitTorrent in that you are not sharing anything.  Regardless of if the file infringes copyright or not, you are merely downloading from your Usenet provider.  Ever seen a file sharing civil action that involves someone merely downloading?  – I wouldn’t think so.  ACS:Law et al cannot operate within this environment.  There are plenty of .NZB trackers out there (and you can see NZB creeping into some of the more “traditional” BitTorrent indexers) – I would argue with anyone that says Usenet is not as simple as Bittorrent providing you are using the right client.

Luckily, average Jo either hasn’t yet discovered or can’t comprehend Usenet.  As I’ve said before in previous articles, I think that will change and the blame will lie squarely on the shoulders of companies like ACS:Law who have been involved with pursuing allegations.   If companies had realized ways to work with this emerging technology then they may not have been having such an issue today.  If users migrate to Usenet (or even jiffy bag trading), the game is completely over.

I think the level of legal aggression being shown by some who seek to stop (or more importantly) generate revenue from copyright infringing file transfers will force users to look for alternative means to share these files.  In the days of the Amiga it was done by post, hooking up with a contact and then sending numerous disks in exchange.  Arguably for most people the 2 day delivery of the postal service and the amount of material you can stuff into a jiffy bag, makes the postal service a far more efficient (and speedier) option if people sat down and thought about it.  20 x DVDr or 94.2 gig….2 days to arrive to target.  How long would it take you to transfer 94 gigabytes of data via BitTorrent?

All file sharing is piracy! - That's what some would like you to believe and the mere mention of BitTorrent or Usenet has you labeled instantly. The truth is that not all users are. Its a shame that in an effort to curb "piracy" the result is merely possible migration to other techs.

So now we turn to IRC and in particular DCC.  For many this was the defacto way to get files.  People who liked to think they belonged to the “scene” would loiter in the relevant channels waiting for an announce to display a file they wanted.  DCC offers a direct connection to the sharer, so there are no swarms and the downloader does not even go through the IRC server they are connected to when they handshake.  Whilst in theory this is great, the problem encountered is that once a sharer hit’s their maximum, you will be queued.  This could mean a long wait.  DCC has been made more “userfriendly” by having “trackers” of sorts which index the channel & user serving material.

Issues of IRC aside, just like Usenet, there is no sharing issue for the downloader, there is no public swarm and except for the person sharing the file, there’s nothing that a law firm could harvest.  IRC for “warez” has mainly been left alone, firstly because of it’s relatively small user base and secondly because if anyone is sharing copyrighted material, they are clever enough to hide their identity through a proxy or other means.  The same cannot be said for BitTorrent when the average user is sharing the latest movie whilst broadcasting their IP to anyone who enters the swarm.


Regardless if your file sharing need allegedly infringes copyright or not, I don’t believe there is any compelling evidence to show BitTorrent being either the be all and end all or the “best” method.  Sure, Usenet will see you probably having to pay a subscription fee to a provider and DCC will probably see you queued for a period of time whilst you await your file, but with the speeds one can expect from Usenet and usually decent speeds achieved with DCC,  is BitTorrent so much better or even better at all?

The only advantage that I see is the ability to distribute a file without having to worry about hosting costs and with the way BitTorrent has won the hearts and mind of the average Jo, it would not surprise me if tougher legislation directed at the tech is not in the near future.

Speaking as someone who spends much time following the topic of “piracy” and fascinated with the justifications on both sides to support their views, I can say that my experience over recent times supports my opinions.  Over the last year, I’ve seen a rise in .nzb trackers.  In newsgroups which traditionally had copyright free or freeware material I am seeing a rise in the infringing material being published and certain newsgroups having tb’s of the latest movies/games/music are being talked about in more mainstream forums.

I’ll let you decide on the best tech, but maybe at least consider my point.  BitTorrent is hardly the second coming of file sharing mechanisms.  I would like to hear from a person that can argue otherwise.  Lets remember how long Usenet has been with us and how many p2p services it’s seen come and go during its life.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

uTorrent Linux edition – People want it because….?

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It is being reported that the popular Windows Bittorrent Client uTorrent is finally coming to Linux after many years.  We reported recently that on the “idea bank” on the uTorrent site, users were requesting a native Linux version and one look at almost any swarm does indeed show the popularity of this closed source package.

Linux users have long since been able to run uTorrent through Wine if they so wish but the question I ask about uTorrent is what’s the point?

On my previous article I wanted to know what all the fuss about uTorrent was because whilst admittedly my Bittorrent need is very small (the odd distro from Linuxtracker) I could not see what uTorrent was offering that was not already catered for with say Transmission or Deluge (or indeed a plethora of other clients out there)

The general consensus (or what some people would like you to believe) is that Linux users want everything to be “open source”, which now seems to be a myth and the demand for uTorrent would suggest that.  I personally have no issue with closed source software, in fact Im a supporter of the demo scene which thrives on the secrecy of source from “competitors” and unless Im mistaken has always been a closed source environment.

So I find myself asking the question yet again, why do users seem to want uTorrent so much?  Is the name synonymous with the bittorrent protocol and the package you HAVE to use because BT == uTorrent?  I’d love to hear an answer since in my limited usage of the Transmission client, I fail to see what else uTorrent could offer.

I’ve searched the comments section of the Idea’s Bank in order to try and find a reason behind uTorrent popularity and the closest comments Ive found to that have been:

There is no torrent client for Linux that approaches the usability and quality of features (in such a small package!) as uTorrent.


I’ve tryed many torrent client on linux (like transmission, vuze, deluge and flush) but uTorrent in still the best…..

Are you any wiser to what’s better about uTorrent and why the clients we already have native to Linux are “not as good”?

Back to the subject at hand, the devs over on the uTorrent site have said (in relation to the development of the Linux version)

We’re working on it, but I can’t tell you how the final release will be.

and Torrentfreak.com is reporting that Jenna Broughton from the uTorrent team said to them:

We obviously want to do our best to deliver whenever we see a good fit between our goals and capabilities and what our users say they want….We are committed to bringing a lightweight uTorrent client that embraces the usability and features of our Windows and Mac clients to Linux users…

and the Windows users who claim Linux has a less than 1% market share might want to consider Ms Broughton’s comment of:

Since launching our Idea Bank on uTorrent.com there has been significant demand for a native client for Linux

Significant demand.  That doesn’t to me suggest that Linux can be dismissed any more by the Microsoft advocates who still hang on to the hope that nobody has noticed Linux.

You can read the excellent Torrentfreak article here: http://torrentfreak.com/utorrent-for-linux-is-coming-finally-100601/ and provisionally set summer 2010 as the release date for the Linux version.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the Openbytes statement, here.

Users want a Linux port of uTorrent?

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uTorrent for Linux? It's what users seem to be demanding. Whats wrong with the native solutions already available?

uTorrent probably ranks as the most popular torrent client on the web and at any given time (and on any swarm) you can almost guarantee that the majority of peers/seeders will be running one version or another of it.  I think its fair to say that for most Windows users uTorrent is the first port of call for those wanting a user friendly, trusted client for file sharing.

It was quite interesting then, that due to an article on Torrentfreak, I visited the “Idea Bank” of the uTorrent developers and saw that the most popular request (by far) was for a Linux port.

Now in my opinion Linux has been well catered for in respect of Torrent clients.  You have Transmission which for many distro’s is the default package of choice.  You also have Deluge, which is another fantastic client and both do “exactly what they say on the tin”.  So why the request for a Linux uTorrent port?  Could this be a sign of users migrating from Windows to Linux and wanting a familiar package? Could it be that uTorrent offers something which both Transmission and Deluge don’t? or is it something else?

Heres a comment from a user on the “Idea Bank”:

I’d love to see a native linux version of uTorrent that doesn’t require something like Wine to run.

Why I wonder, are they using Wine to run a Windows binary client software when there are native alternatives? Could it be as I said above that new migrations from Windows are wanting packages they are familiar with?

Heres another one:

Yes, it would be quite nice to have µtorrent without using wine in Ubuntu.

So lets say for a minute that many Linux users are choosing to run uTorrent through Wine, I wonder then how many people in any given swarm are not actually Windows users afterall?  Its often said that torrent stats (which comprise of many hundreds of thousands of users) are a good way of seeing trends in OS deployment, like Ive said before, I think this could signal that there are actually many more deployed Linux systems than the Microsoft advocates would want you to believe and I repeat that which I said in a previous article that with all the coverage and comments on Linux, it tends to suggest that the Microsoft faithful’s 1% stat is a little wrong.

The fly in the ointment?

The only issue I can see is this; Lets say that uTorrent gets a Linux port.  Lets also say that it becomes the torrent client of choice for the vast majority of users (as it has on the Windows platform) and lets also say that it is included in the default packaging of the “big name” Linux distro’s.  How will the FOSS community sit with the fact that uTorrent is not open source?  Would the Linux community as a whole be happy with the idea of closed source packages included in big name distro’s due to pressure by a large section of their user base?

Taken from uTorrent’s FAQ:

Is µTorrent open source?

No. It is not likely to become open source.

Its possibilities like this which I have always held as a reason why I don’t want mass migration away from Windows to the Linux platform.  If Linux is to get a wave of disillusioned Windows users, we have to keep in mind that they will bring their demands (and their voting power) to a platform near you which has been going quite happily without Windows users turning up after finally working out that PC does not just mean Microsoft.  Now please don’t get me wrong, I am happy that anyone would want to come to Linux after a Windows experience, but what these people need to remember is that Linux/FOSS is != Windows/Microsoft, Linux should never be looked as the OS of choice only for it to still depend on 3rd party Windows apps.  Linux and FOSS are unique (and for me) better in their own right, why should we lust over anything Windows offers either natively or via 3rd party apps?

I know I have taken this to the extreme with many “ifs” and personally I use a combination of closed and open source products, but I can’t help wondering why (presumably Linux users) are desiring Windows binaries when there are already a plethora of alternatives available natively.

Maybe its because I rarely use the BT protocol and consider it a dying tech in respect of the “warez” scene (mark my words the future will be Usenet) or maybe Ive merely missed something absolutely wonderful about uTorrent? or indeed running Windows binaries in the face of native Linux solutions?

And finally here is something for the conspiracy theorists…. If uTorrent is the default choice of millions in a BT client and uTorrent src is not available, who is to say what exactly is in that src and what exactly its doing with your BT habits? – Food for thought or time to put the tin foil hat on?  I’ll let you decide.  I wonder how uTorrent sustains itself with revenue?  From the EULA:

The source code, design, and structure of µTorrent are trade secrets.

I wonder……. ;)

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the Openbytes statement, here.

Digital Economy Bill – My interpretation

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The Digital Economy Bill (DEB) has been suggested by a few sources on the Net. How accurate is this? Who knows, but IF the current government looses the general election how will that affect the bill? Many questions and is now to early to be second guessing?

Over the last few months Ive covered many topics on piracy.  Ive tried to suggest possible alternatives although from what Ive seen the argument falls into two distinct categories, those who wish to legislate with other the top and unnecessarily complex rules/operating polices/legislation and those on the other side of the argument who seem to want a file sharing free for all in the name of freedom of data.

I would ask that people keep with me on this article and ask for one person, just one to justify the file sharing stance (ideally more).  The last article on this subject had over 2000 UIP’s in the first hour of publication, so I know that people are reading it (I also see where the hits are comming from) and yet out of all the incoming hits from pro- p2p sites, not one person tried to put forward a counter.  This article is  yet another attempt by myself to get a better understanding about the pro-file sharing argument which I really can’t see where its coming from.

I have seen the rumoured legislation that is alleged to be passed with the Digital Economy Bill, I offer my interpretation of what is being proposed.

I would stress that none of the information I am quoting has been confirmed and would ask everyone until we get it from “the horses mouth” and its actually in place, to keep an open mind.  The main question I have about any of the proposals would be the upcoming general election and how that will affect this proposal.  That question IMO has yet to be answered.

Before I go any further I should clarify my stance (for those who don’t already know)  I am against the sharing of copyrighted material and believe it harmful to the industry.  I will make the point again later with examples but in the meantime its only fair that you understand I am writing from that viewpoint.  conversely though (which will also be covered later) it is my belief that file sharing has been met with knee-jerk policy, umbrella legislation and a complete ignorance of what is practicable in the “fight”/”campaign” against piracy/file sharing.  I am not for the criminalization of file sharers.  I am not for the three strikes policy nor the possible massive fines your kids could pick up if they downloaded the latest track from Lady Gaga.

The Proposal

So lets start with this link: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/11/19/breaking-leaked-uk-g.html and look at the pointed proposal this site offers in respect of the DEB (digital economy bill)

The Secretary of State would get the power to create new remedies for online infringements (for example, he could create jail terms for file-sharing, or create a “three-strikes” plan that costs entire families their internet access if any member stands accused of infringement)

This in my opinion is just  scare mongering on behalf of the site reporting.  The secretary of state COULD instigate the death penalty for file-sharers (with the support of parliament and the removal of a few other pieces of legislation) the secretary of state COULD make file-sharers dress like chickens and run through the streets.  The keyword is COULD, they COULD do a lot of things, lets wait and see what exactly they are.

The Secretary of State would get the power to create procedures to “confer rights” for the purposes of protecting rightsholders from online infringement. (for example, record labels and movie studios can be given investigative and enforcement powers that allow them to compel ISPs, libraries, companies and schools to turn over personal information about Internet users, and to order those companies to disconnect users, remove websites, block URLs, etc)

I am not quite sure which world the author of that article lives in, but under current legislation if a record label (for example) wanted to seek civil recompense in a UK court because you were sharing its material, it could simply apply for a court order demanding your ISP to hand over your details.  This is nothing new and certainly not something that is being brought in with the DEB.  If for example a school was allowing its students to share music, a possible suit which saw the school being held accountable would have the same effect and I would challenge you to find a school that would rather appear in court than simply block a URL.  It happens all the time anyway, usually a quick email to the school concerned will have the IT dept blocking that URL.

The Secretary of State would get the power to “impose such duties, powers or functions on any person as may be specified in connection with facilitating online infringement” (for example, ISPs could be forced to spy on their users, or to have copyright lawyers examine every piece of user-generated content before it goes live; also, copyright “militias” can be formed with the power to police copyright on the web)

Again, what world has this author been living in?  Read your contract/T&C of your ISP.  They also reserve the right to cut you off under current legislation and have “investigatory” powers already.  I am with O2 broadband, here is a quote from the current terms and conditions  (14.3):

You authorise us to use and disclose, in the UK and abroad, information about you and your use of the Services including, but not limited to, how you conduct your account for the purposes of operating your account and providing you with the Services, for credit control purposes; for fraud and crime detection and prevention and the investigation and prevention of civil offences; or as required for reasons of national security or under law to our associated companies, partners or agents, any telecommunications company, debt collection agency and fraud-prevention agency or governmental agency and other users of these agencies who may use this information for the same purpose as us.
Furthermore, it goes on to say in 14.4
From time to time, we may (without notice to you) review, record or check your use of the Services where we are required to do so to ensure compliance with any laws or regulations or where ordered to do so by any court or other body or authority with the power to require such monitoring, and for our own internal purposes to ensure compliance with the Terms
Correct me if Im wrong, but point 3 of the article linked here, is already covered.

Comments such as “its as bad as it gets” really don’t help any.   Comments such as “declaration of war against free speech” are, in my opinion rather weak.  Let me put this to you:  Recently T-Mobile’s customer data was copied and sold on (allegedly) presumably the detractors to their being copyright legislation, support the cloning of customers personal data?

The three strikes policy (IMO) is a pointless/toothless tiger since firstly ISP’s can already disconnect you (as per terms and conditions) and secondly because the whole implementation/investigation of such a policy would be a logistical nightmare (IMO).  How can you tell if an infringement has been made by little Peter, his friend or his mum and dad.  If an infringement is made by person X at a different venue, who gets cut off?  Who/what does the strike get recorded against? the person or the venue?

Putting that to one side though, the BBC reports a slightly less aggressive approach by policy (and until evidence to the contrary is given) then its just as valid for their view to be put forward: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8366255.stm

The plans for tackling illegal file-sharing, detailed earlier this year, will be a two-stage process. Initially the government will aim to educate consumers and, those identified as downloading illegal content, will be sent letters.

If this proves insufficient, technical measures which will include the powers to disconnect persistent pirates, will be introduced in the spring of 2011.

So until we hear the final word maybe its a little too early to second guess however exactly new legislation will manifest itself?

Looking on though, the Open Rights Group has a very detailed (and interesting) blog entry on this issue, this can be found here and it does shed a little more light on what exactly will be introduced.

They mention about a Henry VII clause which in a nutshell enables the creation of new legislation to counter or intercept new technologies.  In response to that point I would add that really that clause would be expected, since there are alternatives to the BT protocol already in development (and have been covered here before) the fact that they want to prevent having to play catchup again is no surprise.

The Open Rights Group refer to the ISP’s as being “piggy in the middle” with fines for non-compliance and they say “even those they gain nothing from the process”  Really?  Has the ORG completely forgotten that the ISP’s make money from the customers who use their service?  Nothing to gain?  How long have the ISP’s used fast speeds to promote sales, whilst not appearing to be overly concerned about file sharing?  I would cite Virgin Media as an exception, since it appeared on one hand to go out of its way to advertise fast speeds, yet on the other hand report/challenge file sharing.  Have the Open Rights Group already checked their own ISP terms and conditions? Might they have already digitally agreed to the same already?

The ORG makes reference to “copyright holders shouldn’t act as cops” to which I agree, although the majority of fines etc that have come about as a result of a user sharing are civil cases and theres an important distinction between civil and criminal.  I would certainly hope copyright holders do not act as cops in a criminal case, but in civil cases I think they are well within their right to police their own material.  Any fines enforced will have to undergo due process anyway since without being backed up by a court they are worthless IMHO.

All aboard me hearties! The penalties that COULD be brought in with regards to piracy are IMO over exaggerated....lets wait and see.

The law as it stands – Goblin’s interpretation

I have to say this before I continue.  This piece is relevant to UK law and is my opinion.  It is always best practice to seek your own independent legal advice if you should find yourself in breach or summoned for anything talked about below.  I would not suggest that my opinions are anything more than that and would welcome a challenge/correction to any of the interpretations I have made.

In my opinion there has been a mass mis-interpretation of the laws surrounding copyright, its civil consequences and/or criminal.  This misunderstanding I believe is on both sides.  Firstly on behalf of the government where they, IMO fail to consider the consequences tackling the issue at a customer level with such a heavy hand and also on behalf of the user, where they seem to read a piece of legislation and run screaming “war on freedom of speech” and such like.

I have repeatedly said (and apparently it hasn’t sunk in) that in respect of criminal law (forgoing any issues of indecent material etc) there is no remit within UK criminal law for the mere act of downloading copyrighted material.  The issues can arise when users share.  If you think about it for a minute, most of us engage in something similar to downloading copyrighted material every day, when you record coronation street, or Back to the Future 3 off TV to watch later.  Now correct me if Im wrong, you don’t own the IP rights to either, yet you are storing it on a medium for later use.  Just because the material is on TV makes it no more or less “copyright” than say Harry Potter 20 that hasn’t been released in the cinema yet.

Now applying a mere download to a civil case, if you haven’t shared material, its likely a case could only hold you accountable for the cost of that product (if at all) now tell me, is Warner Bros going to take you court for the price of one copy of Harry Potter?  I shouldn’t think so.

This is why I said before that the legislation as it stands is wholly inappropriate to tackle the downloading of copyrighted material.  Sure P2P could be “outlawed” or “policed” but when no sharing is involved what happens to the Newsgroup Binaries?  The original source may be held to task for putting it on the server, but what could be done about the downloaders?  I’d suggest nothing.  Same goes for IRC.  Since the “share” only occurs with the person sharing the data, all the downloaders would not be covered under legislation since they are not sharing anything.

Currently, unless Im mistaken Copyright “rights” include adapting, distributing (either electronically or via other means) selling, renting etc.  Where are the “rights” for a downloader from a .binaries?

Compulsory licensing of ISP’s

The “answer” that I have suggested previously, takes away the nightmare of investigation, takes away the criminality/restriction on the user and makes the ISP’s directly responsible.  I would like to see a system where ISP’s are licensed in a similar fashion to a public house/liquor license.  Ask yourself this, if a pub is repeatedly causing problems because of its customers, is it not the landlord/landlady who is ultimately looked to to provide a solution/resolution?  Things like the restriction of sale of alcohol (which by the way its an offense to sell liquor to a drunk person) upping of age limits, earlier closing time.  If a landlord/landlady cannot show they have taken reasonable steps to tackle the issue they can lose their license.

As anyone who has looked at a BT swarm, the harvesting of IP’s is rather simple.  But by holding the ISP, not the user responsible then it would be far easier for anyone with an interest in the material to solve the issue.

An ISP could easily block all the known BT sites (both private and public) and this would eliminate a massive amount of file sharing overnight, simply because I don’t think the vast majority of BT users would have the first clue in how to circumvent that (and maybe explains why IRC/NG’s never saw mainstream popularity as their operation is more complex than BT or similar)

This is where I see the problem occurring. Providing that legislation is not passed that either adds to or changes the copyright theft Act then I fail to see what could but done if these “remedies” cause a mass migration to IRC or NG binaries, this is the problem.  In my opinion the entertainment industry and the government have neglected the technological implications on the industry to a point where now they a desperately trying to play catchup with over the top legislation.

The answer to this needs to be kept simple.  ISP self regulation by licensing is, in my opinion far more of a simple solution that prevents the end user from being cut off the internet, the subject of an incomplete or incorrect investigation and maybe more importantly criminalization.


Since a pro-file sharing opinion has never really been represented here by any reader, I will put some of the comments which I have seen used to justify file-sharing.

1. “A survey showed that file sharers spend more on music than those that don’t file share.” – Lets say for one minute that we believe a survey where the respondents that file share are actually telling the truth and not just saying it in order to further the pro-sharing cause, how can they answer for the people who they share material to?  This counter is, in my opinion unprovable since its like trying to measure the amount of crime a CCTV camera has prevented.  Its impossible.

2. “Data should be free for everyone, you cannot “steal” data”.  In respect of “steal” its maybe a bad choice of words.  Theft according to Sec(1) of the Theft act states – To dishonestly appropriate property belonging to the other with the intention of depriving the other of it. Since the data is not being “taken” more duplicated, I’d suggest that in respect of file sharing “theft” is a bad choice of words.  Maybe a “loss of revenue” type offence wording would be more relevant?  In respect of the free data for everyone, I ask file-sharers to comment on the duplication of personal data from the recent news report of T-Mobile.  Should that data be free too?  If all data should be free then surely it applies to ANY data?

3. Companies make enough money as it is, they shouldn’t complain”.  – In respect of titles such as Harry Potter, I don’t think it can be argued about the massive revenues it generates even with file sharing, but thats not really the point as you can’t put all file-sharing under the same umbrella.  What about the bedroom coder who releases software to make a little money for him/herself?  should their work be distributed?  I would like to cite an example here “Crayon Physics” is a game made by a chap who is not a mult-national company.  I don’t suppose he has a private jet or holds shareholders meetings, yet even though his work is sold for a small sum, it is still distributed on a massive scale on BT trackers.  Are file sharers saying “Its ok to file share that which we deem has made enough money”? – I’d suggest not, and if you want to justify file-sharing its either all or nothing.

4. “Blocking sites is an attack on free speech, its a breach of human rights!” – Unless I am grossly mistaken the Human Rights Act is secondary to the law of the land.  Like it or not blocking sites needs to happen and we cannot live in a society without censorship (IMO).  For those thinking that there should be no blocking/censorship I would ask your opinions on a site displaying indecent material.  Should users be allowed to see that under the umbrella of free speech?  What about sites promoting hate about faith/sexuality? should we really have those too?  I’d hope the majority of people would agree with me when I say that racism/sexism/homophobia should be removed as should anything which falls under the banner of indecent.

These are just some of the counters Ive read by people trying to justify their actions.  If you have any more, I’d really like to hear them.


I sometimes wonder about the society we live in.  File sharing after all is the sharing of material such as games/music/film which really at the end of the day is not critical to our daily survival.  I would agree that the pricing can be high but then as an adult if I believe something is too expensive for what it is I either don’t buy it or wait until it is reduced.  A good example was a recent film.  When it was released on DVD I considered it far too much money, so I merely waited until Blockbuster offered it ex-rental and bought it for a significantly reduced price.  If people disagree with pricing, why can’t they simply wait?  Are movies/music/games that important in their lives that they must have it now and preferably for free?  I can understand this of a young person, but an adult (which apparently accounts for much of the file sharing community) really?

Sources of further information






Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com