back to article Filesharing laws to hit websites and newsgroups too

The government is planning to award itself powers to change copyright law almost at will, in expectation that new anti-peer-to-peer laws will drive infringement to other services such as Rapidshare and newsgroups. The measure, which is the most severe contained in the Digital Economy Bill published today, will be interpreted …


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  1. Seanmon

    You owe me a new keyXXX.. monitor.

    Because every time I read the words "Lord Mandelson" I involuntarily punch it.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    This fascist government is a F**king joke. Setting legislation so that next time they don't need to bother with having MP's and Lords permissions.

    Someone pass the emigration letters.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    You are free, to do as we tell you

    "...the powers will be exercised by statutory instrument rather than by primary legislation, meaning MPs and Lords could not block the government."

    Hell, why not go all the way and give full Hugo Chavez-style powers to the PM so they can do things like start a war without asking Parliament first?


  4. Stef 4
    Thumb Down

    Oh really?

    "Earlier suggestions by Mandelson that the regime could be in force by summer 2012 were abandoned, with government spokespeople unable to commit to a timetable today."

    Ah, right. So they've just found out it might be a bit tricky to actually work out who is doing what. So 2050 it is then. Long after the Dark Lord of the Sith is gone, and we are all living in underwater cities thanks to melting polar bears.

  5. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A nice little earner

    > ISPs will then charge rights holders a capped sum for each letter they send

    So if the ISPs can justify (say) £30 per letter as the "cost" of sending it - given that a first class stamp is now 39p and a sheet of A4 could cost nearly a penny, then it seems to me there's a great deal of money to be made from sending out warning letters: the more the merrier. Even if the ISPs have to bear some of this cost themselves, the funny money accounting used for such schemes means that it still sounds like a very profitable operation. It also incentivises the ISPs to send out letters on the flimsiest of pretexts. Since they won't check the downloaded content, the process could be just thinking "hmmm, user X has just downloaded a 700MB file, that could be the new Linux distro - or it could be a movie.... Let's bung 'em a letter just in case (and make some money), they can always appeal it if it was legitimate." In fact a smallish shell/Perl/Python script could easily do it all for you: no people involved, just a steady stream of cheap letters out, and luuverly cash coming in.

    Anyone know how to start up an ISP?

  6. Nomen Publicus
    Thumb Down

    Copyright now just for the rich?

    I wonder if Mandy has actually read the copyright laws? This posting has an associated copyright, but by posting it, I implicitly allow re-distribution. The copyright doesn't disappear. So, who is protecting my rights? I can't afford to wine&dine Mandy on my private motor cruiser while explaining why my copyright needs are important.

    Are we getting to a situation where an organisation like the Performing Rights Society gets heavy handed with shops and pubs even when they are playing music from people and groups who are NOT represented by the PRS?

  7. Harry Tuttle

    Hard to take seriously

    If media can be reduced to a sequence of 1s and 0s, that sequence can be duplicated and repeated.

    If the original sequence can be obscured by cryptographic techniques, it will be impossible to identify.

    Whilst these facts remains, illegal copying will continue.

    Why not try passing laws to make it illegal for the oceans to be affected by the gravitational influence of the moon?

    It would be better to put time and effort into different models of distribution of A/V media, rather than try to keep alive the dying business models of the 20thC

  8. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    broadband assumption

    If it's data gathered by looking at IP addresses used by the great unwashed it must rely on everyone connecting to the net then never turning off the wireless hub or main machine, especially as these 'stop the pirates' or the major fail of 'knockoff nigel' seems to be aimed at end-users.

    If people just turned off stuff as they went to bed (or school) the IP address would get issued out elsewhere When they reconnect later they get another IP address from their ISP.

    (there's also a chance that they'll get a better line speed from the exchange, too)

  9. EvilJason
    Thumb Down


    Why is Mandelson even suggesting this as he knows the next election he and his party is out...simple as it states in the article he has cross party support i.e. more than him has been bribed and as such he is simply doing what the people who have bought him want.

    Hmmm i wonder if hypothetically if when this law goes into effect say a group flooded the p2p and file sharing networks with face ips of uk people and watch the thousands maybe even hundred of thousands of false allegations arise will this bill stay much longer when ordinary people get accused falsely and can not defend them selves.

    Hmmm interesting

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    hmm my link to a newsgroup provider is SSL encrypted end to end, so how would the detection work ? Shouldnt bigbrother gov spend more time halting spam/bots etc. that impact the entire business community, surely the ROI would be a lot higher, rather than just a few people that happen to lunch with PeterM ?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VPS use on the rise

    VPS use on the rise:

    Recently the hosting industry announce it is expanding their offerings with more pseudonymous VPS offerings for those that do not wish to be disconnected from their primary connection.

    And in related news:

    BPI has started suing printers and faxes and photocopiers for copyright infringment in a civil court.

    Recent events:

    Government announced plans on allowing prison wardens to define what is a criminal act.

    Related news:

    3 times jaywalking offender Johnas Smith has been senteced to 20 years in prison under the warden-is-the-law legislature for quickly adjusting criminal law.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    ISP sweeteners?

    Could the interception laws etc will be tweaked to make it easier for the ISPs to implement DPI based behavioural advertising along with this.

    1. Ted Bovis
      Thumb Down

      Handy Mandy

      If only. Mandy said himself that he's quite happy to jump ship to the Tories (or whoever) when Labour suffer the inevitable - in fact, he wants us to think he is above mere party politics, as if he has been directed by the Almighty to work for the good of the British public (i.e. himself). He's like Sauron with the IQ of a sponge.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    this gov't needs to go

    It appears that the longer they stay the more damage they do. They need to go, and that'll come none too soon.

    Human rights? Who needs those -- let's make up laws to protect the rich (the poor things, with the recession they only have a few billion left) at the expense of the average joe (who is such a thief and also smells bad).

    Next thing, they'll start marching funny in the streets and singing things in german.

    Are the pirate party the only ones we have left that haven't sold out? And I'm not addressing just piracy here... they seem to be the only ones interested in basic human rights these days.

  14. Eden

    Good timing

    So basically they are pushing ahead with this using the same "evidence" as before that has already been proven to be very unreliable and subject to no quality control or level of accuracy - IE Lists provdied by the "Rights Holders" with incorrect time stamps, incorrect or spoofed IPs or just plain no proof they didn't make the whole list up down the pub...

    Your defence is to appeal to a toothless organisation...or take it to court just as they've announced they will be the costs you can claim back for representing yourself in court to the legal minimum while you will no doubt be up against multi million pound defence and technologically ignorant courts....nice!

  15. Winkypop Silver badge

    Come the revolution....

    ....these guys will be the 1st up agin' the wall...

  16. PirateSlayer

    @ Pete 2

    "So if the ISPs can justify (say) £30 per letter as the "cost" of sending it - given that a first class stamp is now 39p and a sheet of A4 could cost nearly a penny, then it seems to me there's a great deal of money to be made from sending out warning letters: the more the merrier"

    While I actually agree with this point, it highlights the reason why this draconian bollocks has been introduced. Pirates often pontificate on the costs of production for items such as CDs and DVDs. You are forgetting the cost of developing the system to analyse the traffic, the cost of analysing exceptions/appeals. Once this is factored in (i.e. materials + the all important labour) it might hit £30 all in...

    It is convenient to forget that people are involved in the equation somewhere...and time costs money.

    Oh, and thanks to all the selfish pirates for this toss.

  17. yossarianuk

    Looks like tor all the way now

    What are they going to do when everybody starts using Tor ? (if they did the speed would increase..)

    I think i'm going to start to get used to its speed.

    The first thing everybody should do is install tor or a secure OS (i.e not windows) then contact Mr mandelson..

  18. James Ashton
    Big Brother

    Ban Encryption

    For those feeling smug about encryption: what's to stop it being banned, at least in certain circumstances? As an example (playing devil's advocate) why do we need encrypted torrents if all we're passing around is open source distros? I'm not sure it's so clear-cut that technology can beat the law. Note that, when I say the law here, I'm talking about the written legislation and statutes, not the enforcers and prosecutors thereof.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    What's the problem?

    Why is it so wrong that content producers and the organisations that represent them try to restrict the illegal duplication of their work?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    and when revenues don't increase

    what will they find to blame next?

    Read my lips Mandelson.


  21. Lawrence 7

    Or, reads something like:

    "so that it, in future, new communications technologies allow creative content to be unlawfully copied in new ways, remedies can be developed and implemented more quickly and flexibly than might otherwise be possible, so that emerging threats can be addressed in a targeted way".


    "so that it, in future, new communications technologies allow creative content to be unlawfully copied in new ways, remedies can be developed and implemented with a knee jerk reaction that might otherwise be impossible, so that emerging threats can be addressed in a shallow, ill thought out way that is dictated to us by rights holder organisations so new technology & innovation never gets the chance to change their business models in a way that they cant handle again, preventing any more upheaval, change or pain caused to rights holders organisations, in the form of competition, change, and challenging ideas that they dont have the ability or skill to react to quick enough.".

    Or something like that.

  22. eJ2095

    Erm on Virgin Media

    They have tons of cloned modems.. so if my mac has been cloned and some sod is downloading everything under the sun..

    Me thinks this has not been realy thought through...

    Also my newgruop is SSL encrypted..

    BOFH to replace mandelson me thinks!! (Speaking of which..)

  23. Platelet

    RE:broadband assumption

    Yeah but my broadband is busiest when I go to bed

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What? I think you've got that back to front.

  25. Tom Chiverton 1


    I bet we can change encryption keys and standards faster than the DPI vendors.

    This is a stupid, nee impossible plan. I suppose they will see the numbers drop, mainly because people will move to technologies that are secure against this...

    Does the government not have more important thinks to be doing ... ?

  26. Anonymous Coward


    > "Customers who want to challenge an allegation of illegal filesharing will be able to appeal to an Ofcom body in the first instance. If they are unsatisfied they will be able to take their case to a first tier tribunal."

    Hmm. If my experience of appealing decisions made by the health service is anything to go by, this will be nothing more than paying lip-service to the whole concept - very worrying considering the presumption of guilt appears to be the order of the day here. I'd like to think the Conservatives will save the day, but the likelihood is that they'll be at least as bad as Mandy. Only where there's just one of him, there's a whole bunch of them.

  27. David 138


    The amount of money spent on this crap. If they spent the money on Faster internet connection piracy would dwindle. Sounds strange but currently you cant get a decent service to stream movies, games and music so why would you pay for it????

    I would be happy to pay monthly rental for unlimited downloads or streaming but not while my internet connection is less than half of what "apparently" is the average of 2mb. Bastards.

    when will the uk catch up with the world. This is a classic case of putting a bucket under the hole rather than patching it up. overpaid bastards.

  28. Steven Jones

    @Elmer Phud

    "f people just turned off stuff as they went to bed (or school) the IP address would get issued out elsewhere When they reconnect later they get another IP address from their ISP."

    Let me give you a tip - don't move into the white collar crime business. I rather suspect they'll track you down pretty fast. Do you not realise that the ISPs keep a log of dynamically allocated IP addresses (although given there have been cases where people have been fingered due to ISPs mixing up their GMTs and BSTs, cock-ups can be expected). Of course, once it gets into home networks, insecure WiFi, spoofed cable modems and the like, the opportunities for fingering the wrong person go up an up, as the appropriate logs aren't available to the ISPs or detective agencies (theoretically a log identifying a MAC address could identify a device uniquely, but they are easily spoofed and not readily available outside the local network).

    There are many, many more sophisticated ways that you can hide your tracks than causing the IP address assigned by your ISP to be refreshed...

  29. Not Fred31

    And the tories?

    Why do your stories on this issue never mention what the incoming government's view is? As far as I know, they are as nutty as the current crowd on this issue, but it would be nice to see this analysed in your articles.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah well

    "However, the powers will be exercised by statutory instrument rather than by primary legislation, meaning MPs and Lords could not block the government."

    So much for Democracy. I reckon they're just trying to give Mandelbrot something to do to keep him out of their hair ... by putting him in ours.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    DHT, Tor, PeerBlock (neé PeerGuardian) and encryption for all then?

    As an aside, does DPI work on IPv6 tunnels?

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Virgin and BT support this?

    So Virgin Media and BT support this. Why?

    * they want to offer high bandwith connections but skimp on the backbones

    * they want to be the ones selling TV and music to download

    * they want to do DPI and Phorm, and this will let them

    Comparing their reaction to TalkTalk's, I know who my next ISP will be.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @James Ashton

    Right off the top of my head, a counterexample is businesses using encrypted systems to pass credit card info around. PCI requirements say they have to encrypt or they'll get fined per transaction - route it through the right port and it'll be nigh-on indistinguishable from your average encrypted bittorrent. You can't turn around and go 'outlaw encryption' when the entirety of e-commerce requires it and when ports can be shuffled around at will - good luck preventing THAT - let alone the hideous moral complication of demanding that no-one pass anything - legal or not - around privately anymore. What if I am the rights holder to a file and I want to give it to a friend? Can automatic systems match up ownership? What about if - god forbid - I just want to go about my business on the internet without opening up all of my perfectly legal traffic and activity to outside sources? That 'privacy' thing, y'see.

  34. Tom Chiverton 1

    Anonymous Coward @11:45

    There's nothing wrong with people protecting their work. Assuming everyone is guilty, introducing one of the largest internet monitoring systems in the world and bypassing the right to see your accuser in court (before you have your broadband turned off with no evidence) - that's what is wrong.

  35. Nigel Wright

    How many times does it have to be said?

    We already have avenues for copyright protection - the courts. It seems to me they are driving a way around the courts by intrucing tribunals? If someone is suspected of infringing copyright then they have a right to be heard in a court of law...not a bloody tribunal.

    ..and if copyright holders wish to enforce copyright then it is for then to do so through the appropriate instruments of law. It is not appropriate to expect ISP's to do it for them.

    I wonder what they will do when this action fails to revive their flagging business model.

  36. CareTaker

    We already pay for things several times over.

    I have Sky TV in my house. I watch stargate (sad I know) on Sky TV, I then buy the DVD box set. I then download the episodes to view them on my home network or laptop. My ISP sends me a letter on behalf of Fox/MGM to tell me I have infringed copyright. I then have to defend myself even though I have paid for my sky subscription, my TV license, my internet line with built in remuneration assuming I am going to pirate. I have also purchased the box set.

    So I have effectivly paid for the show: once through my subscription, once through advertising, once from my internet subscription and again through purchasing the box set, not to mention the tax for the privalige of owning a TV. Do I get a refund if I do not watch the show? No.

    Copyright laws are complete bollocks. This is vastly disproportionate punitive action that benefits nobody and presumes guilt before innocence.

  37. NickR


    Full of FAIL.

    Lots of people get cut off - ISPs loose revenue. ISPs don't want this. FAIL.

    Lots of people appeal: system breaks under backlog or cost or both. FAIL.

    Nothing happens to lots of people: FAIL.

    Lots of people point out under law that the allegations need to be proven in a court of law: still a FAIL.

    Cut off people still don't go and buy more music (because they would of never bought it in the f@cking first place) to pay for maintaining the Recording Industry Dinosaur: FAIL.

    Copyright Laws change and people are forced to stop download and still don't buy any more music. FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL

  38. Annihilator

    re: @Elmer Phud

    Steven, spot on, but you missed a couple of the other fails. Namely that most broadband providers assumes "always on" and so have very sticky IP assignments. Try it, unplug your modem for a day or so, and see if you get the same IP address. Fair chance you will, as there's very little need for a rotating pool anymore. This only happened back in the days of modem banks where they could assume only a percentage of subscribers were connected at one time. Nowadays, they assume that the majority of connections are live.

    Not to mention this mystical science of getting a "better line speed from the exchange" by getting a new IP address. Eh? What? How?

    1. James R Grinter

      OT: getting a better 'line speed'

      > Not to mention this mystical science of getting a "better line speed from the exchange" by getting a new IP address. Eh? What? How?

      Thinking laterally, if a bit of network equipment was balancing traffic across links or through some device, by IP address - or simply routing different netblocks down different circuits - then it could be entirely possible that getting a new IP address might seem to give a 'better line speed'.

  39. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

    re: Whats the problem

    "Why is it so wrong that content producers and the organisations that represent them try to restrict the illegal duplication of their work?"

    Yes I agree, it's just business. Like what's so wrong with schools teaching Microsoft Office rather than Office software in general. If you're in business and you can get the government to pass laws which favour your business then jolly good for you. Who wouldn't.

    However there comes a point where this is fascist. The businesses are actually given law enforcement powers which entitle them to make money from enforcing those laws. The ordinary person does not have those powers nore is he making a profet from the law.

    If an ISP decides you have been sharing too many movies they can create a problem for you which requires you to prove your innocence. Now if you are guilty then no problem, you just stop after the first or second letter. If you are innocent then you are entitled to carry on sharing your Alex Jones documenties but you will have to explain yourself to their satisfaction.

    There are entirelty too many of these private law enforcement people. I am against private body's being required to enforce this stuff. The government is building a self funding police state of people who can make money out of their licence as long as they also enforce government policy when requested.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Here's the plan then

    What we do is identify blocks of IP addresses used by the government and spoof the hell out of them. is downloading whatever formulaic blockbuster is in the circuit, is seeding the latest album from some chart-botherer like Lily Bloody Allen. And then we wait.

    Or, how about this? Send MPs emails with MP3s of our own performances attached but without the explicit right to download them (tuck it away in the footer or in headers or something). Set up a rights body of our own and report them to Ofcom.

    I'm looking forward to hearing how Deep Packet Inspection will work on sneakernet distribution systems...

  41. Stephen Soutar

    The wrong approach?

    With all the money that is going to be spent trying to enforce this type of regime, wouldn't it be better to invest the money into a new legal way of obtaining media, such as a flat 'all you can download' licence?

  42. Anonymous Coward


    The encryption genie out of the bottle - there is no way it can be banned especially with its use in business communications.

    The endgame for this legislation is probably it being enacted all over Europe and the US, so that while running or using a VPN in another country now seems like a simple way of overcoming the legislation, eventually it will become harder and harder to find a country which has laws which will protect you.

    Until then I am confident that enacting the legislation in the UK will result in a drop in P2P traffic as recorded by deep packet analysis - I know my internet connection would suddenly show the same volume of data but all now in SSL packets to a location somewhere else in the world. Oh and good luck with that other expensive security scheme to monitor all my internet traffic when that happens...

  43. kissingthecarpet

    '97 was our last hope

    for real change. This soon turned out to be the usual betrayal.

    That was the last chance. The Tories(again) will be worse - i.e the same as this lot with added 'back-to-basics' prudery & hypocrisy. They're not known as the "Nasty party" for nothing, you know.

    Mandelson, don't make me laugh - he's an amateur when it comes to being a hate figure. Some of the new ones make scum like Michael Howard & Nick Ridley look almost OK.

    We really are bang in trouble now - the only answer is mass civil disobedience( and end-to-end encryption).

    Non Serviam!

    Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

  44. Matt Hawkins

    Catch Real Criminals? Nah too much like hard work ...

    Excellent. Another zanu-labour law where people are guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent.

    Big business is obviously always right and never accuses innocent people of file sharing by mistake.

    So a few false accusations from a foreign company and you lose your internet access.

    Meanwhile the Government is doing nothing to stop real criminals operating on the internet. Copy a few songs you would have never bought anyway? You are a criminal. Run a phishing operation emptying peoples' bank accounts? Ah we'll ignore that. Its just free enterprise ...

    Time to make a break for freedom and move to China.

  45. g e

    @ Evil Jason

    Cos Geffen has promised him a backhander for completing his side of the deal.

  46. Christopher Rogers

    Labour have accepted the end is nigh....

    Thats why they are allowing everyone in the party to have a cameo appearance and make up rules as they go along. This whole ending actually started about a year before Blair quit and really they are now just playing at being government until they have to hold a general election, when hopefully they will all fuck off into the night. Rasputin as business secretary shows how far away from good sense and normality this lot really are.

    For the damage they have done in government, they should be tried for treazon and publically executed.

  47. Inachu

    Network folder sharing.

    Trying to remember the program file name that when installed lets you share your folder across the internet. It wasn't a http server..

    grrr my memory fails me. The only drawback was it was slow.

  48. EvilGav 1

    Hmmm . . .

    . . . if my ISP sends me a letter, claiming that I have been downloading something illegally (which is what it will do), does this not mean that I can then take the ISP to court for libel ?

    At this point, it would be a civil and not criminal matter, which means that the level of evidence is on the balance of probabilities, not on the presumption of innocence. It would also mean that the ISP would have to prove I was guilty, not merely espouse a money-making machiens belief that I was guilty (the evidence of an IP swarm on a torrent would have to be able to stand up as being viable evidence and at no point have been able to be tampered with).

    If i'm right - bring on the letters, i'm gonna be rich.


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