Posted on Mar 02 2010 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on ACTA secrecy breeds suspicion
Meddling Mandelson faces furore from MPs
The secrecy surrounding the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) talks is causing fury amongst MPs across political parties. The Government (Lord Mandelson and David Lammy) has refused to place the documents regarding the ACTA talks in the House of Commons Library because of other countries requests for secrecy, much to the annoyance of the UK MPs.
Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing
This is particularly important because whilst Mandelson and Lammy are involved in the secret ACTA talks they are also negotiating the Digital Economy Bill’s entry into UK law. If the leaked details of the ACTA talks are to be believed these new agreements will have a significant impact on the DEB which is already causing large amounts of controversy.
So what is the ACTA?
The ACTA is a proposed trade agreement between participating countries to establish international standards on protecting intellectual property from copyright infringement. The UK is joined in the talks by the US, Japan, the EC, Australia, Singapore, the Republic of Korea and several others.
David Lammy defends the government’s secrecy by explaining how publicising details of the ACTA discussions could damage the UK’s relations with the rest of the involved nations, stating “this would harm our ability to protect, promote and secure an outcome in the UK’s interest, and the premature release of documents that are not agreed and not fully developed may also have a negative effect on the government’s reputation.”Read More »
Entanet has invited guest blogger Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group (ORG) to give his views on the Digital Economy Bill (DEB). Here he explains why he belives the Bill is fundamentally flawed and advises how you can change it before it makes law. We welcome his comments and encourage you to add to the debate.
Jim Killock, Executive Director, ORG
It’s time to stand up against the DEB
The Digital Economy Bill is bad. But exactly how bad, and for who, is only now being properly debated. Those following the Bill closely have known for some time that unacceptable shortcuts are being proposed to detect people accused of illicit file sharing.
Many of you will also be very clear in your own mind that it’s not possible in most cases to equate a customer’s IP address with an individual who may have infringed, yet this is exactly the approach the Digital Economy Bill tries to take. The result is that current government plans will target anyone with a computer with more than one user, or a network.
Beyond households it will, as a result, also impose substantial costs on hotels, restaurants, cafes and eateries who offer free Internet access to their customers – costs which are likely to severely disrupt their business. The Federation of Small Businesses and the British Hoteliers Association are among those raising these concerns.Read More »
Posted on Jan 28 2010 by Neil Watson | Comments Off on Are YOU on the list? – Update
In one of our early opinion articles back in September 2008, we highlighted the practices of a law firm (Davenport Lyons) who were sending out a number of threatening letters to alleged illegal file sharers demanding a settlement fee of over £300 or threatening court action. The law firms antics were picked up by the consumer group Which? who responded by reporting the firm to the SRA (Solicitors Regulatory Authority).
Neil Watson, Head of Operations
Yesterday’s news reports suggest Which? has identified another law firm operating this practice. In November 2009 a ruling by the Royal Courts of Justice granted ACS the ability to demand the personal details of thousands of customers from ISPs. These customers are once again accused of illegal file sharing and once again Which? has come to their rescue. The accused customers are receiving letters demanding between £300 and £500 or face the threat of court action. Which? argues that many of those targeted have been wrongly accused (again) and as we stated in our original article (Are YOU on the list?) this could well be the case as the law firm and copyright holders are identifying the illegal file sharers using IP addresses which can be easily hijacked and spoofed.Read More »
Posted on Jan 05 2010 by Darren Farnden | 6 Comments
In a recent opinion article of his own within the New York Times, U2 front man Bono warned all creative types to beware of the evils of the Internet, especially us greedy ISP types.
He states “The only thing protecting the movie and TV industries from the fate that has befallen music and indeed the newspaper business is the size of the files. The immutable laws of bandwidth tell us we’re just a few years away from being able to download an entire season of “24” in 24 seconds. Many will expect to get it free.” A tad over dramatic but he’s probably right on that one.
However he continues “A decade’s worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators — in this case, the young, fledgling songwriters who can’t live off ticket and T-shirt sales like the least sympathetic among us — and the people this reverse Robin Hooding benefits are rich service providers, whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business.”
This statement just goes to show why multi-millionaire Bono should stick to singing and campaigning for poorer nations and leave the economics of Internet service provision to the professionals. Those of us within this supposedly swollen, profit rich Internet industry are more than aware of the reality. Consumer demand for the cheapest, fastest broadband continues to increase resulting in even lower profit margins for us “greedy” ISPs.Read More »
Posted on Dec 09 2009 by Elsa Chen | Comments Off on 2009 – The good, the bad and the ugly!
As we approach the end of an eventful year I thought it would be apt to take a look back over the main industry talking points of 2009 to evaluate what happened, why we were discussing it and where we are currently at. When we have completed that let’s take a stab at predicting what we will be discussing in 2010.
Elsa Chen, General Manager
The ‘hottest’ topic of 2009 was undoubtedly illegal file sharing
We first covered this subject back in April with an article discussing the Pirate Bay case. The four founders of the website ‘The Pirate Bay’ were found guilty in a Swedish court for assisting the illegal downloading of copyrighted material. They were each sentenced to 1 year in jail and ordered to pay £2.4million in damages to the entertainment industry. This was the catalyst that started the raging debate between the entertainment industry, the government and ISPs which continues to this date. The entertainment industry and a number of high profile MPs, in particular Peter Mandelson, are calling for a three strikes and you’re cut-off policy. However, ISPs have continuously raised concerns regarding the accuracy of correctly identifying offenders and the fact that cutting a user off is presuming guilt before a fair trial with minimal and potentially flawed evidence.
This topic continued to be covered for several months and was once again inflamed with the release of the Digital Britain Report which actually advised against a three strikes policy, much to the annoyance of the entertainment industry.
So where are we at now?Read More »
Posted on Dec 02 2009 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on Murdoch vs Google – biting the hand that feeds him?
Last month Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, founder of News Corp which owns titles such as The Wall Street Journal, The Times and The Sun, announced plans to block Google from searching the company’s websites as he believes companies such as Google and Microsoft are “stealing” his stories for their own benefit.
Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing
In his interview with Sky News Australia he stated “The people who simply just pick up everything and run with it – steal our stories, we say they steal our stories – they just take them. That’s Google, that’s Microsoft, that’s Ask.com, a whole lot of people … they shouldn’t have had it free all the time, and I think we’ve been asleep.”
He continued “There’s a doctrine called fair use which we believe could be challenged in the courts and barred altogether — but, you know, it’s OK. We’re getting a lot of advertising revenue, so we’ll take that slowly.”
But it’s not as one sided as Murdoch would have us believe. News Corp also benefits from its involvement with Google. Google is reported to deliver 100,000 clicks a minute to News Corps’ websites, that’s a lot of traffic to simply dismiss. Murdoch responded to this by questioning the quality of the traffic delivered by Google, stating that Google does not deliver loyal customers that would be willing to pay for his stories. “What’s the point of having someone come occasionally who likes a headline they see on Google?” he asked. “There’s not enough advertising in the world to make all the websites profitable. We’d rather have fewer people come to our website, but paying. Customers are very happy to pay for it when they buy a newspaper.”Read More »
Posted on Nov 23 2009 by Darren Farnden | 2 Comments
Last month (here) we discussed Mandelson’s announcement at the ‘C&binet Conference’ regarding the tackling of illegal file sharers and his continued proposal of a three strikes system. These proposals have now progressed further with the release of the Digital Economy Bill.
Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing
The bill covers a number of issues but the key features affecting ISPs and broadband users are as follows:
- 1. ISPs will be forced to provide written warnings to alleged illegal file sharers when alerted to do so by the copyright holders. Additionally, ISPs will be required to record how many warnings the accused customers have received and feed this back to the rights holders.
- 2.The Secretary of State (currently Mandelson) will be given new powers to update the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act in order to react to changes in technology more quickly. The powers will be exercised by statutory instrument rather than primary legislation which means although the proposals will need to be debated in the Houses of Parliament and will be subject to public consultation the MPs and Lords cannot block them.
- The Register: Filesharing laws to hit websites and newsgroups too
- 3. The use of orphan networks will be allowed where the rights holder cannot be found or identified.
- 4. The government will be given the power to reform and restructure Nominet, the body responsible for domain names in the UK. This follows recent board resignations.
- The Register: Mandelson to get Nominet reform powers
- 5. Ofcom will be assigned new duties to promote investment in the UK communications infrastructure and will be required to assess this every two years.
Alongside other ISPs, Entanet has voiced concerns over this policy for some time now but it appears that Mandelson has finally got his way – although the bill has not actually made it into law yet. Once the Digital Economy Bill is on the statute books ISPs will be forced to send written warnings to alleged copyright infringers at the request of the copyright holder. As expected the suspected users will be identified by the copyright holders using IP addresses from BitTorrent. The ISPs will then be required to record the number of warnings each suspected user receives and supply this information to the copyright holders. If the copyright holder wants further information on a particular persistent offender they will require a court order.Read More »
Posted on Oct 29 2009 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on Mandelson’s mindless meddling infuriates Internet industry
Once again Lord Mandelson has sparked anger amongst ISPs by announcing that the controversial three strikes policy for tackling illegal file sharing will be adopted in the UK by April 2010, despite ongoing criticism from the Internet industry.
Darren Farnden, Marketing Manager
Speaking at the ‘C&binet Conference‘, Mandelson announced that if the amount of illegal downloading had not dropped by 70% come April 2011 following the introduction of the new proposals (which include bandwidth squeezing and download caps), then further harsh measures including the disconnection of file sharers would be imposed from July 2011. Whilst the use of disconnection is expected to remain a ‘last resort’ measure, the news has once again infuriated the Internet industry.
Since the conception of these proposals Entanet has voiced its concerns and, following Mandelson’s announcement, ISP TalkTalk said that it would “continue to resist any attempts to make it impose technical measures on its customers” and has set up a campaign called “Don’t Disconnect Us” to lobby against the plans.Read More »
Posted on Sep 01 2009 by Darren Farnden | Comments Off on Guilty until proven innocent is wrong approach to file sharing
Government plans to make ISPs responsible for cutting off suspected file sharers in an effort to curb online piracy of films and music have come in for a lot of criticism. Not only is the move seen as placing unfair onus on ISPs to monitor, manage and control the activities of their customers, but it has also been seen as a move likely to lead to many users being unjustly excluded from using the Internet.
Darren Farnden, Marketing Manager
Even Which? magazine, much admired for standing up for the rights of consumers and ensuring that they get a fair deal, has said that it will call on the government to ensure that it has a much more rigorous method in place for identifying those who are file sharing and those who are not.
One of the problems of course, is that it is very difficult to be certain of exactly what users are doing and whether or not their activities once they have downloaded a file are illegal or not. Simply tracking an IP address that appears to be downloading a lot of material, then passing that information to the ISP with the insistence that they investigate or even prevent them having access, would be unfair and inadequate. Yet that is exactly what the government is planning to do at present.Read More »
The last month has seen substantial media coverage of the latest row that has erupted between BT Retail and a number of content providers including the BBC. However, we think a fundamental issue is being missed. Instead of BT Retail focusing attention on the BBC et al to contribute to its increasing costs, it should instead be tackling its wholesale provider to reduce the price of bandwidth. Here I explain why this has a wider significance to ISPs and the industry as a whole.
June 2009 proved to be a turbulent month for two of the UK’s industry giants, BT and the BBC. The month began with reports that BT was throttling its option 1 customers’ connections to the BBC’s iPlayer service (and other bandwidth hungry services including YouTube) during peak times, reducing speeds to less than 1Mbps on the advertised up to 8Mbps service. This, according to the BBC, notably affected the iPlayer’s service quality.
Neil Watson, Technical Support Manager
The argument escalated when the BBC claimed that BT’s advertising of its option 1 package shied away from detailing this level of throttling. Instead it states that the package is capable of 25 hours of iPlayer streaming and only refers to the throttling in its FUP.
By mid June the plot thickened with a request from BT for content providers to pay towards the cost of delivering customers to their sites, claiming that the “free ride for content providers was over”.
“We can’t give the content providers a completely free ride and continue to give customers the [service] they want at the price they expect,” said John Petter, managing director of BT Retail’s consumer business.Read More »