A year in review – What did you think of 2011?

Posted on Dec 20 2011 by Elsa Chen | Comments Off on A year in review – What did you think of 2011?

It’s been a busy year for the industry with a lot of controversial topics and industry debates. Through this opinion blog we have covered many of the key issues and received a number of interesting comments from our readers. Therefore, we thought it would be beneficial to provide a review of 2011 which includes a number of opinions and comments from our partners and readers.

Elsa Chen, General Manager

Elsa Chen, General Manager

1. The dreaded DEA
First on the list in our 2011 review has to be the DEA. It has continued to plague the Internet industry this year and this looks set to continue into 2012. Barely a week has gone by where the DEA has not made the industry news in one form or another but the major points to remember are as follows:

  • 25% of the costs of the three strikes rule to be covered by ISPs
  • The BT and TalkTalk judicial review which has now been granted grounds for appeal
  • The popular Hargreaves’ report which aimed to restore some of the balance with regards to copyright infringement
  • Ofcom and the Government’s u-turn on website blocking plans despite the court decision to force BT to block the Newzbin2 website.
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Poll: Which of the following issues will most greatly affect the Internet market in 2012?

Posted on Dec 05 2011 by Gemma Dickinson | 1 Comment

It’s been a busy year for the Internet industry with lots of controversial issues and news affecting ISPs, consumers and other industry bodies. We have covered many of these items on this opinion website. However, we would like to know your thoughts. Which of the issues raised in 2011 do you think will most greatly affect the Internet market in 2012? You can let us know your opinions on this by participating in our poll or by leaving us a comment below.

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Guilty without charge?

Posted on Dec 01 2011 by Neil Watson | Comments Off on Guilty without charge?

Nominet caused controversy recently when it announced its draft proposals to take down websites alleged to be facilitating copyright infringement without a court order. Despite Nominet’s insistence that this will only be applied as a last resort where there is a clear risk of “imminent serious harm”, a number of industry bodies have expressed their concern with the proposals.

Neil Watson, Head of Service Operations

Neil Watson, Head of Service Operations

ORG (Open Rights Group), ISPA (Internet Service Providers’ Association) and LINX (London Internet Exchange) have all criticised the draft proposals on the grounds that the take down is being applied without a fair trial and there currently appears to be no appeals process.

ORG argues: “ORG’s understanding is that Nominet’s current practices fail to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). It is an Article 6 right under the Convention to have an open fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Article 6 rights cannot be waived.”

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A trio of summer announcements for ISPs

Posted on Sep 08 2011 by Guest | Comments Off on A trio of summer announcements for ISPs

As members of ISPA (Internet Service Provider’s Association) we thought it would be very useful to gather the industry association’s thoughts on some of the latest issues to affect our industry. Nicholas Lansman, ISPA Secretary General, therefore discusses three of the most controversial issues that have been announced over the summer and explains how these issues may affect ISPs.

Nicholas Lansman, ISPA Secretary General

Nicholas Lansman, ISPA Secretary General

1. Newzbin2 decision – blocking is not a silver bullet
Three announcements were made over the summer with implications for ISPA members. The first announcement was the landmark decision by the High Court in the UK ordering BT to block access to the Newzbin2 site. The site makes unlicensed film, music and applications available to its subscribers.

The Motion Picture Association (MPA) brought the case to court and the judge ruled that BT had actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright and can therefore be required to block access.

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Ofcom takes an axe to the DEA on website blocking

Posted on Aug 09 2011 by Darren Farnden | 1 Comment

Plans to block illegal file sharing websites first established within the controversial Digital Economy Act last year, have finally been scrapped by the government thanks to a review of the policy by Ofcom and its conclusion that the measures are ineffective.  At the same time Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable, announced the government has accepted all 10 of the recommendations from Professor Ian Hargreaves’ review of intellectual property law.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), in its official response entitled ‘Next Steps for implementation of the Digital Economy Act’, confirmed: “Following advice from Ofcom – we will not bring forward site blocking regulations under the DEA at this time. We will do more work on what other measures can be pursued to tackle online copyright infringement.” What these measures will be, however, is not mentioned.

The statement is somewhat surprising after recent news (opinion.enta.net: ISPs lose first court battle against website blocking) that the High Court had ruled in favour of the Motion Picture Association by forcing BT to block access to alleged piracy site Newzbin2 and it suggests that the government’s plans are at odds with the ruling. This is understandable when you think about the length of time and the resources it would take to bring each case to court. Many feared this ruling would be the start of a long line of court orders, with right holders dragging ISPs through the courts to get their own way. We’re now hoping this decision will help prove that blocking websites isn’t as easy as right holders make out.

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ISPs lose first court battle against website blocking

Posted on Aug 01 2011 by Darren Farnden | 1 Comment

The verdict in the case between the MPA (Motion Picture Association) and BT has been announced. The High Court has ruled that BT will be forced to block access to the Newzbin2 website which provides links to pirated content.

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing

The entertainment industry are hailing this as a victory and describing this first battle as a “test case which has set legal precedent”. They now intend to take other major ISPs down the same legal path.

The presiding judge, Justice Arnold,  said the following on the ruling:

“In my judgment it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright: it knows that the users and operators of Newbin2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of the Studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes, it knows that the users of Newzbin2 include BT subscribers, and it knows those users use its service to receive infringing copies of copyright works made available to them by Newzbin2.

In general, I am satisfied that the order sought by the Studios is a proportionate one. It is necessary and appropriate to protect the Article 1 First Protocol rights of the Studios and other copyright owners. Those interests clearly outweigh the Article 10 rights of the users of Newzbin2, and even more clearly outweigh the Article 10 rights of the operators of Newzbin2. They also outweigh BT’s own Article 10 rights to the extent that they are engaged.

The order is a narrow and targeted one, and it contains safeguards in the event of any change of circumstances. The cost of implementation to BT would be modest and proportionate.”

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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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