Surely it’s time for change!

Posted on Jul 14 2011 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on Surely it’s time for change!
Categories : Copyright, File Sharing

A recent study by Envisional, the developer of Internet monitoring and copyright infringement protection software, has found that illegal film piracy by broadband customers has grown by 30% over the past five years. It’s an interesting statistic that no doubt the entertainment industry and their relative bodies will jump on in their vocal campaign to clamp down on piracy and copyright infringement – but before we get carried away let’s consider this statistic more carefully.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

So, between 2006 and 2011 film piracy over broadband has grown by 30%. Does this really reflect a higher incidence of broadband users acting illegally?

To answer this, we need to consider the rate of growth in broadband adoption over the last 5 years. Back in 2006 the latest broadband access technology available was the up to 8Mbps MAX product. According to Ofcom in March 2006, just 53% of UK households had a broadband connection (approx 13.3million homes) and average broadband speeds were just 3.6Mbps. Five years on and Ofcom’s latest reports show an average broadband speed of 6.2Mbps, with the latest access product being FTTC offering up to 40Mbps and overall broadband availability increased to 75% of UK adults. Arguably this actually suggests that the problem is no better or worse today than it was 5 years ago.

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UK Internet to be firewalled

Posted on Jun 30 2011 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on UK Internet to be firewalled

Back in April, news emerged of an alternative plan to the controversial Digital Economy Act’s original website blocking measure, which would result in a Voluntary Code of Practice for blocking access to websites deemed to facilitate Internet copyright infringement. Last week, the UK government’s Minister of Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, held another one of his “private” meetings with representatives from ISPs and rights holders including the Premier League, the Publishers Association, the Motion Picture Association and music industry executives. Only one consumer group was asked to attend, Customer Focus, the statutory consumer champion for England, Wales and Scotland.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

In the latest meeting it is understood an alliance of rights holders presented their latest working paper called ‘Addressing websites that are substantially focused on infringement’. The paper suggests that a council and expert body decide whether a website is ‘substantially focussed on infringement directly or by authorisation’ on the basis of evidence submitted by copyright owners. It is then suggested that the Application Court would be responsible for issuing a permanent injunction, which would require UK ISPs to block the infringing website.

The working paper, which allegedly came from the Rightsholder Group, was later leaked on the Internet after being sent to James Firth’s blog, who works as a data management consultant at Dalton Firth Ltd, and then published by the Open Rights Group.

The Open Right’s Group, which was refused entry to join the allusive round table meetings despite them requesting to attend in advance, argued “It is critical that policy making happens through a broad and open public debate, especially on matters that so tangibly affect rights such as access to information and freedom of expression. This is not simply about the rights of ‘sites that facilitate infringement’ or those running them. It is about the processes through which decisions are made about what you are allowed to see and do. Clumsy, quasi-judicial and unaccountable website blocking is dangerous for exactly that reason.”

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Is the DEA a breach of our civil rights?

Posted on Jun 15 2011 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on Is the DEA a breach of our civil rights?

Criticism of the DEA (Digital Economy Act) appears to be limitless and has now stretched as far as the United Nations. The UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) has released a statement that condemns policies such as our ‘beloved’ DEA which, it says, seek to disconnect people from the Internet, branding them as ‘disproportionate’ and a ‘violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.’

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Frank La Rue, the UNHRC’s Special Rapporteur said: “The Special Rapporteur is deeply concerned by discussions regarding a centralized ‘on/off’ control over Internet traffic. In addition, he is alarmed by proposals to disconnect users from Internet access if they violate intellectual property rights. This also includes legislation based on the concept of “graduated response”, which imposes a series of penalties on copyright infringers that could lead to suspension of Internet service, such as the so-called “three strikes-law” in France and the Digital Economy Act 2010 of the United Kingdom.

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Poll: ISPA Awards 2011 Villain of the year – who would you vote for?

Posted on Jun 07 2011 by Claire Dutton-Merrills | Comments Off on Poll: ISPA Awards 2011 Villain of the year – who would you vote for?

Recently, the UK Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) officially announced the finalists for its 2011 Internet Hero and Internet Villain awards. Both categories recognise those who have either done the most or least to help the Internet Industry. This year, ISPA’s finalists are:

Internet Hero Finalists

  • Rory Stewart MP – For his trailblazing efforts to bring broadband to his rural constituency of Penrith and the Borders
  • Twitter – For its role in helping people communicate during the Arab spring
  • Judge Colin Birss QC – For his considered and damning judgement on the ACS Law that it was “chaotic and lamentable”
  • The Australian Internet Industry Association – For taking the lead and launching a voluntary industry code on infected machines in Australia
  • Prof. Ian Hargreaves – For authoring a review that makes recommendations on how IP can be made fitter for the digital age
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Professor Hargreaves restores the balance

Posted on May 23 2011 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on Professor Hargreaves restores the balance

The UK’s IP (Intellectual Property) law has been knowingly out of date for many years and, as the Internet becomes of increasing importance to our day to day lives and our business practices, an overhaul of the IP laws which were first conceived several hundred years ago are well overdue. This, coupled with the forthcoming implementation of the DEA, means the Government has had little choice but to review the current legislation. It therefore called upon Professor Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff University to conduct an in depth review and last week he published his much anticipated report.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Hargreaves estimates that changes to the Intellectual Property systems could add £7.9 billion to the UK’s economy. He stated “In recent years the UK has failed to make the changes needed to modernise copyright law, for which we will pay an increasing economic price as we make our way into the third decade of the commercial internet. My recommendations are designed to enhance the economic potential of the UK’s creative industries and ensure that the emergence of high technology businesses, especially smaller businesses, in other sectors is not impeded by our IP laws.”

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The DEA – seems common sense isn’t common

Posted on Apr 21 2011 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on The DEA – seems common sense isn’t common

The verdict on the Judicial Review of the DEA (as previously discussed here: Entanet Opinion: DEA – Finally, time for some common sense!) is finally in and unfortunately it delivers yet more bad news for the Internet industry.  The review was dismissed on four out of the five grounds with the fifth being partially granted.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

The grounds were as follows:

  • Breaching  the Technical Standards Directive by failing to notify the EC.
  • Breaching the e-Commerce Directive which provides that ISPs cannot be held responsible for data going through their networks.
  • Breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive as ISPs have to deal with data not specifically permitted.
  • Disproportionate measures with regards to the three strikes system.
  • The fifth ground was based on ISPs objection to paying 25% of the costs. As discussed here: Entanet Opinion: DEA passes buck to ISPs
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DEA: The weaknesses of plan B

Posted on Apr 07 2011 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on DEA: The weaknesses of plan B

Towards the end of last week, news emerged that an alternative option was being discussed in order to replace the existing Digital Economy Act’s website blocking measure. The UK government’s Ministers of Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey has officially invited the Open Rights Group (ORG), rights holders and ISPs to look at a new ‘plan B’ approach which could mean ISPs blocking access to websites deemed to facilitate Internet copyright infringement based on a central blacklist.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Plans were first formalised through a meeting late February with rights holders and ISPs, which led to the creation of a working group that would investigate site-blocking systems. The working group is said to be meeting the first week of April. Jim Killock, Executive Director of the ORG said the discussions had been prompted by delays to the DEA.

Such plans would see responsibility for the monitoring of websites being passed to the newly established independent body that would manage a blacklist of piracy websites. ISPs would then voluntarily filter out the websites said to be infringing copyright. The benefit of this, of course, would be to copyright holders who would only need to make a complaint once to the independent body rather than to each ISP. An initial list of around 100 illegal downloading sites has already been drawn up by rights holders, including the likes of Pirate Bay and Newbin2.

The plan B approach has been compared to the Internet Watch Foundation’s (IWF), which collects and investigates reports of child abuse material online. It then distributes a blacklist of web addresses to ISPs who voluntarily use it to filter virtually all UK consumer Internet access. The new plans would mean ISPs would not be responsible for checking complaints made by copyright holders against websites.

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How much more can the DEA withstand?

Posted on Mar 28 2011 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on How much more can the DEA withstand?

The controversial Digital Economy Act (DEA) has once again hit the headlines with news that it has been officially delayed until spring 2012 at the earliest. The news will come as no surprise to many within the industry, as the complex Act has been plagued by debate at every stage since its original conception.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

“Since the DEA passed into law there has been a considerable amount of work to do to implement the mass notification system. Secondary legislation setting out how the system will be paid for and how it will work has to be passed by Parliament. Ofcom also has to set up an appeals process” said a spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The latest delay can be attributed to a number of factors including the ongoing debate over the allocation of costs between rights holders and ISPs (Opinion.enta.net: DEA passes buck to ISPs),  ongoing concerns regarding using IP addresses to ‘identify’ alleged offenders , the latest review of website blocking proposals, the Judicial Review brought by BT and TalkTalk which started this week and of course the problems Ofcom has encountered with its code of practice.

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Poll: Should the demise of ACS:Law affect the DEA?

Posted on Feb 17 2011 by Claire Dutton-Merrills | 1 Comment

In a recent article published by Thinkbroadband.com, they state that Judge Birss, has raised questions over the reliability of the DEA using IP addresses to identify copyright owners. The judge, who is well known for the case against ACS:Law and MediaCAT, declared that using IP addresses would only identify a wireless home broadband router and questioned whether leaving a wireless network unsecured, equated to authorising it to be used for file sharing.

We think the demise of ACS:Law shows that judgements based on IP addresses are unreliable and open to abuse. Should this therefore force the government to rethink the DEA, which could potentially open the UK up to more ACS:Law type activities in the future.

We would like to know what you think about Judge Birss’ concerns. Therefore, we have added a new poll asking for your feedback. Please also feel free to leave us a comment below.

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DEA passes buck to ISPs

Posted on Jan 31 2011 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on DEA passes buck to ISPs

Back in September 2010, the UK Government Department for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sports (DCMS) announced its plans to force ISPs and right holders to share the costs associated with the Digital Economy Act (DEA), which was unsurprisingly met with much hostility from ISPs.  It would now appear the Government has laid out its secondary legislation in parliament, in its continuing bid to tackle online copyright infringement.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

The Digital Economy Act which, let’s remember, was hastily passed back in April 2010 in the pre-election wash-up, poses to tackle unlawful file sharing with a three strikes rule by sending out warning letters and possible suspension from the Internet.  The proposed law will shoulder ISPs with 25% of all costs, from Ofcom’s costs, issuing notification costs, qualifying and initial costs and case fees for the appeals body. Rights holders will take on the remaining 75%.

According to Communication Minister Ed Vaizey, the Digital Economy Act sets out to “protect the creative economy from online copyright infringement, which the industry estimates costs £400m a year”. However, our frustration comes with Vaizey’s further comments where he says these measures are expected to “benefit industry by around £200million a year and as rights holders will be the main beneficiaries, we believe our decision on costs is fair to everyone”. What? Everyone? Unless I’ve misunderstood his statement, there are two parties footing the bill here – the right holders and the ISPs. Yet it’s only the rights holders that benefit, to the tune of an estimated £200million a year. I am so keen to understand what benefits the ISPs are getting in return for shelling out for 25% of the costs. Perhaps Vaizey thinks it’s the satisfaction of knowing we’ve helped make the world a better place. Wake up, it’s getting tougher to succeed in our economy as it is! The last thing ISPs need is to be told is they now have to be penalised for providing access to the Internet, especially at a time when the Government wants ‘the market’ to bring faster access to everyone in the next few years!

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