back to article Ireland debuts Fone-a-Freetard lottery

A pilot scheme cracking down on copyright pirates is now underway in Ireland. But what's it supposed to achieve, exactly? After reading the details you may be as puzzled as we are. The experiment is the result of an out of court settlement between the major labels and ISP Eircom last year, in which the latter agreed to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't understand this use of the term "off network"

    It's like saying that phoning a country other than the one you normally phone (and speaking a different language during the call) involves taking your phone "off network". It would make sense if it wasn't completely inaccurate.

    1. Barry O'Connell

      by network they mean p2p network

      It is easy enough to monitor a p2p network. Once a person uses a different protocol for the transfer (for instance an encrypted client-server connection) it's much harder to monitor.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not only that

        By doing a straight client-server download they aren't guilty of "providing" the material to anyone else, so the amount the lawyers can wring out of them in court is not worthwhile. If/when the legal bogeyman gets big enough to be taken seriously, p2p will be deserted as everyone goes back to good ol' HTTP(S).

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Anon for obvious reasons

    Meanwhile in other news, Eircom (or Errorcom as like to call them) have reported a big increase in the number of VPNs running on their network,

    The only reason that the copyright mafia ever cam after Eircom was because there are a cash strapped company ever since the grubberment sold them of into private ownership, leaving them without the money to invest in broadband infrastructure, let alone fight the big four of the copyright mafia.

    The funny thing is that while I was watching this on the TV last night I noticed that there seemed to be more than the usual amount of Eircom advertising highlighting download speeds. Did Eircom know this judgement was going to be delivered on the same day.

    The IRMA website contains this bit of bullshit “"It is completely within the legitimate standing of Eircom to act, and to be seen to act, as a body which upholds the law and Constitution. That is what the Court expects of both individuals and companies." Mr Justice Peter Charleton”

    So go read the law and constitution dickheads, presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    What is so funny about this is that IRMA think that this will *actually* achieve anything, except to drive more people into using proxies, VPNs, seedboxes, rapidshae, usenet etc. etc. etc. IRMA, Irelands answer to King Canute.

    It would not be so serious if it wasn’t for proxies and the fact that there is no onus of proof on IRMA to actually prove anything, all the copyright mafia have to say IP is downloading, Errorcom have agreed to accept this as proof of something illegal and have agreed to send out a letter/email/telephone call to the alleged downloader who will probably turn out to be some old granny who was an unsecured modem.

    This may catch the uneducated 14 year old, but the technically savvy will easily confuse any attempts to monitor their connection leaving the serious download untouched. It’s a bit like setting up speed traps on good sections of roads.

    It’s no wonder the music industry are unable to develop any reasonable online products, they haven’t a fucking clue about how the interweb works.

    Well I’m off to do a whois query on IRMA so I can set up a proxy that uses their IP….. Yarrr

    1. Anonymous Coward

      technically inaccurate joke alert

      music industry are unable to develop any reasonable online products, they haven’t a fucking clue about how the interweb works.

      Well I’m off to do a whois query on IRMA so I can set up a proxy that uses their IP….. Yarrr

      -- End quote..

      Well done, you just invalidated your whole post with that retarded joke at the end.

      Its more likey to be the technically savvy 14 year old they don't catch, and the uneducated wannabes that think proxies solve everything that they do. The music/movie industry has enough money to fight very well.. best not forgotten.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Picking the low hanging fruit

        Well at least you realise its a joke, so you are probably not an American :-P

        You're right, using a proxy doesn't hide your IP address, however you do miss the sub-text of my post (Note to self explain EVERYTHING so the -tards understand).

        The copyright mafia have sub-contracted the work of harvesting the IP address of the down-loaders, no doubt that have some sort of SLA with the copyright mafia that requires them to harvest a certain number of IP addresses. So faced with harvesting a certain number of IP addresses the sub-contractor will pick the Eircom IP addresses.

        This keeps everyone happy, the sub-contractor harvests the requite number of Eircom IP addresses, IRMA get a few Eircom IP addresses to pass to Eircom thereby justifying their existence, Eircom send out a few letter thereby meeting the requirements the agreement and the vast majority of downloaders continue to download.

        So you see using a proxy does protect your IP, as long as everybody doesn't use one.

        I still stick with my original assertion, the music industry haven’t a fucking clue about how the interweb works.

  3. zaax

    https:// anyone?

    So as soon as everything goes encrypted no one will be able to read the information other than the recipient, the record labels and MI5 will really be stuffed then.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It'll probably work

    See most people have no idea that downloading copyrighted material isn't illegal*. Nor do they realise that the upload is the real problem - which is most definitely illegal and opens you up to damage claims.

    The average parent has no clue at all what their offspring are up to - and if they are then they don't realise the potential liability.

    A letter/call to the average bill-payer will, in most cases cause them to stop using P2P in the way that they do now. Whether it stops them downloading stuff, well who knows. The ISPs are the only ones who'll know if it works or not and whether the load goes onto other protocols.

    Its worth a try given that it'll cost bugger all and won't end up criminalising thousands of otherwise law-abiding people.

    *its only illegal if you KNOW the copyright holder has not granted permission or intend to use the material commercially.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually in my experience...

      Most people know its illegal, but its like speeding, they don't much care and if they get caught, fine they pay for it. Until they do get caught, they speed along knowing its a numbers game. One cop to 100's of cars. Eventually it'll be their turn. Also, they figure if they only download/upload a few a week/month no one will notice. Just like going 5 over the speed limits (in the USoA) anyway.

      I agree that parents don't know and probably don't care.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Exactly. And like speeding, this civil (not criminal) infringement (not theft) issue should be dealt with via simple fines. If people are pirating because it is “free,” then fining them (a small amount like a speeding ticket so you can do it a lot without causing riots,) will be the greatest deterrent. After a few “downloading tickets” people would see that pirating is simply more expensive than buying legit.

        If however people are (as I suspect) largely pirating music/videos/games/books because it is EASIER, MORE CONVIENIENT and LESS RESTRICTIVE than the current legal/legit options then these fines will have zero effect on pirating.

        (Caps because I honestly believe these are the reasons most people pirate. For example, some of them might even buy the media legit, but then download the pirated version anyways, so they aren’t swapping DVDs out of their laptops all the ****ing time…)

        The author of this article is right. A carrot is needed. Not more sticks.

    2. Danny 14 Silver badge
      Thumb Down


      With ISP supporting things then deep packet inspection could thwart this.

  5. Charles King

    Of course it'll work

    The problem with file-sharing is simply that it has grown to such large proportions that it's become an accepted method of obtaining material. The solution is to change that perception and remove the huge numbers of casual P2P users that flocked to the medium over the last decade.

    No solution is going to stamp out the hard-core pirates. There are multiple ways to avoid detection for those who are really determined to do so. The solution is to cut back the amount of piracy so that only the hard-core engage in it. And an effective way of doing this is to send a message and make sure it gets through.

    Vague legal threats have a potent force. I remember over-hearing some medical students I was tutoring 5 years ago who were terrified of downloading music fearing they'd get a criminal record and be unemployable. These supposedly intelligent and well-educated (cue your med-student jokes here) members of the community were frightened-off by the faintest whiff of a rumour of legal proceedings. A personal letter will have far more weight, and the survey is right.

    The fact is that piracy isn't 'theft', it's fare-dodging. Any train service needs to accept a certain amount of fare-dodging, as there's a level at which it costs more money to enforce the fare than is being lost to the dodgers. The problem with P2P is simply that too many customers have decided to dodge. The fact is that most of them will pay up if you simply go up to them and tell them to stop doing it.

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    repeat offenders

    what are thr chances of a repeat offender? Very high if it's handled the way mediacom did it. They shit mine off last year, and told me why when i phoned in. Not happy but whatever, fair enough. Then it kept shutting off *even though i stopped using p2p*. It appears that either the customer<->ip mappings are screwed, or they knowkingly send false notices to hope heavy users just go away. That's what i did, i cancelled. I didn't tell them my suspicion regarding a corrupted ip database, since i hope they just lose customers instead.

    second, splitting hairs, but it's *sending* a copy that's considered infringement, not the download itself. (of course, p2p software does both simultaneously.)

  7. heyrick Silver badge


    I notice this seems to have slipped by: "So if this approach is going to have any teeth, it will need to ensure infringers are pro-actively monitored after being identified the 1st time."

    It is an issue here in France where monitoring is part of the anti-Freetard legislation. But the question is - who monitors? on what basis? how invasively? where is this data stored? for how long? who can access it? what are our rights regarding it?

    If it is a filter installed ISP-end, then for an *accusation* (not necessarily substantiated), a third party could be allocated a copy of every unencrypted packet you transfer. Every email, every photo, every thing you browse on Amazon. All for an *accusation* of ripping off a song or movie or whathaveyou. This might not seem like a big deal to some, but if you and a disgrunted cow-orker are IMing about how much of a wanker the boss is, you'd kinda like to think such communications would carry a level of privacy. Or, better, if you are in "the union" and the management doesn't know and all the union people are organising a ballot... Everybody has secrets. And a reasonable expectation of privacy. To actively monitor *suspected* file sharers raises a hell of a lot of questions (and in the French case, the response is "no comment", FFS, don't we have Le DPA over here?!?).

    Gee, and to think somebody recently said Google was the single biggest threat to privacy ever ever ever.

  8. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Do they even have legal alternatives?

    How many DRM-free legal music download services are there in Ireland?

  9. daveStyle

    Just go somewhere else

    That story was a little heavy on the "tard". Offensive much?

    Surely after the first or second wrist slap from Eircom, the subscriber will just pack up and go with one of the manay other ISP's availale in Ireland which have (to date) refused to take a similar approach to piracy.

    Most are cheaper and provide a better service anyway.

  10. SleepyJohn

    A 19th Century solution to a 21st Century dilemma

    This is a simple King Canute thing, as noted above and in other places. Morality and 'theft' have nothing to do with it. The world is changing and society's mores must change with it. Media barons can sit in their Director Chairs on the beach and rant all they like about 'freetards' stealing their profits, and bribe politicians to obfuscate the law so their own 'feetards' only have to point to you to prove guilt, but by High Noon the tide will be in and they will all drown.

    It is not the 1950s now, and in a few short years access to the internet will undoubtedly be considered an absolute Human Right. The internet will become as ubiquitous and essential as the air we breathe, and the notion that back in 2010 people could be sued, or even disconnected, for accessing 'intellectual property' without permission will be seen as ludicrous - like charging them to breathe air because a media mogul exhaled in the vicinity, or suing them for overhearing music from a passing car, or jailing them for watching television in a shop window, or ASBOing them because they found a newspaper on a park bench and read it.

    What the media industry needs is not greedy bosses, sadistic lawyers, corrupt politicians, or spineless ISPs, but bold, young imaginative entrepreneurs; ones who see the internet not as a broken window at the back of their warehouse, but as an open door to the world - billions of potential customers eager to be wooed, not terrorised. The sort who even now can cleverly make money by bottling air and water.

    Ironically, the more the youngsters - not mired in the post-war iron-fisted distribution model - cock a snook at the industry's stupidity and greed the more likely such entrepreneurs will arise, to captain the lifeboat now the broken ship is sinking - not from pirate attack but from navigational incompetence. Then this fatuous 'pirate' hysteria can be filed away in Wikipedia next to Thomas Ludd, for future generations to laugh at. And we can all get on with our lives, now inextricably interwoven through the web - which should belong to us all, not to a few 'intellectual property' magnates.

    1. Gavin McMenemy


      Note sure what you think Canute has to do with this. I assume you mean his commanding of the waves story? That was an act of piety that demonstrated that no man is above the forces of God (or Nature YMMV). If true the story (there's significant doubt) it has bog all to do with foolishness.

      1. SleepyJohn

        The moral of the tale is ...

        The story of Canute showing his courtiers that even the king could not halt the changing of the tide demonstrates that not even those with the enormous power of the media industry can halt the changing of society. The evolution of society is governed by far greater, and infinitely more important forces than all the media flunky **AAs and Mandelsons put together. The truth of the tale is irrelevant, but its moral is not.

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  12. Anonymous Coward

    the movie industry will lose customers from now on

    many years ago, I used to get the odd movie off Kazaa, then I got a letter from my (small) ISP and have since stopped altogether:

    1) downloading movies that way;

    2) buying movies - I used to buy used ones for £3-£4 or the new ones in offer at 4 for £20;

    3) renting movies from LoveFilm - as I could never get the one I wanted when I wanted, due to their irking method of "queue here at least 10 movies and we'll decide which one to send you";

    4) streaming movies from that "shark" domain that I now forgot how to spell;

    The whole story of overpriced, ad-bloated and limited (as in copy-protected) DVD movies made me abandon a good habit of watching them in various ways which included a small part of infringement and a big part of purchasing, thus making the movie industry lose a customer.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    The solution as I see it is for the entire industry to wake up to the fact that they do not need to be structured as they are now in order to be profitable.

    You have 4 groups here.

    People who make shows.

    People who pay for advertising.

    People who watch shows.

    People who distribute shows.

    Thanks to Online Peer to Peer Distribution technology, one of these groups is obsolete.

    Companies pay dearly to have their products advertised. The prices they pay are generally enough to fund the making of a television series. Often even a movie.

    Lets look back at the early days of television. Commercials were done on the set, by the actors in the show. Product placement was a big deal, as it is now (is it just me or is TV Land some alternate universe where everyone uses a Mac?) In the middle of the show, a short segment would feature an actor or announcer giving the advertising spiel for the product. In return, the sponsor would pay a fee that would enable the show to continue being made.

    The problem here is that intermission-style advertisements would not work any more. Anything that interrupted the story would be cut out by people in pirate scene.

    What needs to happen is that commercials need to change. They are annoying obnoxious interruptions that people only enjoy once or twice (at best) and then become increasingly less enamoured with as time goes by.

    On the other hand, product placement still fits just fine, and would not be cut out. Also, watermarked intermittent messages and logos that decorate screen edges would likely be kept as well... A black bar over them, or blurring them out is just as distracting from the material as the original message likely was. And honestly, it would be healthy for everyone if the "scene" agreed to leave these alone. Taking up the attitude that it is "paid for" space, and without it the show would die, would be a good thing.

    Another thing about commercials like this is their longevity. Advertisement embedded this way will last for the life of the show, not just flash in the brainpan of millions of viewers for a forgettable squidgeon of time.

    How many people watched Firefly when it came out? Obviously not enough. How many have watched it since then? Millions. If Pepsi or McDonalds had embedded an ad into that show, instead of doing it like they currently do, then all of the millions who have seen the show since it went off the air would have been viewers of the ad as well.

    As it stands now, who knows what company was paying for ad time during that show's airing? Definitely not me, the version I watched had the commercials removed.

    The torrent model is a distribution dream. The production company does not have to pay for expensive amounts of bandwidth, that fee is paid for collectively by all of us when we pay our monthly Net bill.

    "Ok, smarti-pants, back it up" you say.

    During the last Superbowl, 2.6 million US Dollars were paid to air a 30 second commercial. with a total U.S. audience estimated to be around 150 million viewers. Curiously enough, that's around the same amount of money it cost to produce an entire season of the HBO show "Carnivale" which was cancelled due to high production costs. Season one averaged 3.54 viewers across 12 episodes (42.48 million views) and Season 2 averaged 1.7 million viewers for 12 more (20.4 million views)

    This is JUST the people who watched it on HBO. This doesn't count DVD sales or pirated distribution. Television shows now have a long tail of viewership. Shows can get surges of popularity years after they have left the airwaves.

    By this math, Two or three sponsors could have kept this show alive. And this was an abnormally expensive show to produce, yet also a show that won 5 of the 7 Emmys it was nominated for. A sitcom could be done on a shoestring budget.

    It comes down to a question of which is better. 150 million ad views by different people, or 20 or 40 million ad views by the same people repeatedly.

    Which is better, paying for a distribution model that cost millions to build and maintain, is operated by self-aggrandizing jackasses (Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch, etc) who think it is their personal vehicle to program you to think and act how they want you to, and is constantly cancelling shows to the disappointment of millions of loyal fans (Firefly, Carnivale, Surface, Heroes)??? Or is it better for production companies to cut out the middleman and put a server in the basement seeding their show on an officially sanctioned torrent with a legitimized tracker whereby they can keep accurate records of how many times the show was downloaded? Include a question before the download link as to how many people are expected to be viewing that copy, and you get accurate numbers with which to shop around to prospective sponsors.

    This way of doing things lends itself to web based social networking buzz-building as well.

    To the "Industry"

    Stop trying to outlaw piracy. It is a part of global culture now. Embrace change and survive. Ignore change or try to legally regulate change and you'll go the way of the dodo. Learn to embed commercials in your web-based offerings in ways that are unobtrusive but effective.. Set up RSS feeds of sanctioned torrents for shows. If a show stops being economically viable on the air, look toward continuing the series via online only distribution. Realize that flash sucks balls. It really does. Streaming is expensive on your end and limits the available quality not to the capabilities of the viewer's home theatre setup, but to the viewer's bandwidth capabilities. Torrents are cheap as the bandwidth cost gets borne by the viewers and you can host different qualities of your product (with corresponding differences in filesize) to further meet the needs of your viewers and hence remove the need for someone in the "scene" to re-encode your product. If you don't embrace this change, it will be the end of you. Also, stop doing cocaine, your family is really worried about you.

    To the production houses

    Start cutting out the middle man. If the industry doesn't pick up your show, have your agent stop talking to NBC, ABC, FOX and HBO, and instead have them talk to McDonalds, PepsiCo, Sears, FedEx, and Toyota. Get in touch with your fanbase and stay in touch. Be good to your writing staff. Don't sign away your reproduction rights. Keep your options as open as you can. Do not allow a clause in your contract that would prevent you from continuing your show by alternate means should a network decide they no longer wish to carry it.

    To the viewers

    Get out there and check out the Web based shows. This stuff has already started happening, and you are missing out. There's some good shows already using this model. Google the word "vodcast" and you should be able to find something along these lines.

    To the advertisers

    Gather a team of people who can judge the viability of script ideas. You are now in a position of greater power than you've ever been before. Don't screw itup.

    To the reader of this

    Sorry I was so longwinded. It happens.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge


      you do realise the figures are extrapolated from the nielsen box ratings? If that show tanked on the nielsen then it is cancelled. Obviously no tards have nielsen boxes....

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Actually...

      Firefly ain't coming back, get over it.

      >> To the advertisers: Gather a team of people who can judge the viability of script ideas. You are now in a position of greater power than you've ever been before. Don't screw it up <<.

      I can't wait.

      If I were you I'd get up to speed on the reality of the ad business, because most of what you recommend has already been tried. It crashed and burned.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: AC@16:16

    Well put, rather logical, but you neglected the most important fact. That is that the 'cost of distribution' is less than $100/month. Every torrent on the internet started from a single copy, probably from a typical home internet connection.

    Also, internet users will watch ANYTHING even remotely related because they can simply click a button. Compare this with movie rentals, in the beginning, you got a VHS tape of the movie and had to return it in 3 days. That's all there was. Today, the same movie comes in a 2-disk set, the second disk of which is made of: out-takes, pictures of the set, pictures of the crew, alternate endings, all of the movie trailers, etc.

    Advertisers want eyeballs, actually they want money, but eyeballs is how they currently count it. Take the movie "Transformers." While you're unlikely to be able to purchase Megan Fox, you can certainly purchase a Camaro. If you're watching the movie on your TV, you probably can't click on a link to visit the GM virtual Chevy Showroom, but if you're watching it on your computer, you can certainly click on the 'buy this car now' link. One, GM will know that you got to their showroom from the online movie and Two you're 'eyeballs' will have been counted.

    There's more to it. Instead of having to read through the credits on a DVD, which having been designed for a 65ft screen are all but illegible on a 17in monitor, looking for the wardrobe sponsor becuase you really like that suit/tie/shoes/etc that the star was wearing. No more, you click on the scene and it opens a window describing the label of what the actors/resses are wearing, instant access to, or, etc.

    One downside to this would be that '404' pages would need to become much more intelligent. They know exactly what was on the page before they took it down, they surely should be able to direct you to this years model with a side-bar that explains that you were searching for last years model, hell, they could sell E[vil]Bay the ad-space for just that reason.

    Of course, I could be completely wrong.

  15. henrydddd


    Unless the music and motion picture industry realize that they too, must change, no progress will ever be made. Copyrights up to 120 years actually cause the works to be repressed rather than preserved. A simple 20 year copyright will allow the industry to make a profit, yet by allowing these works to eventually go into the public domain, they will be preserved. Many motion pictures are never re-released and slide off into obscurity.

    Also, in the 60's, when I bought a record, I had the right to recorded it to my tape recorder or whatever media I chose. These people will have to allow me to take music off of my notebook and put it on cd or do whatever I want as long as I don't redistribute.

    The recording industry is going to have to wake up and negotiate. Or there will be a wholesale rebellion against all copyright laws. Just look at whats happening now!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well ...

    for all their winging i stopped downloading mp3's when i got spotify

    yes its not perfect but its bloody good for the price !

    Lets see a decently priced film streaming service too please. im quite happy recording it on BT Vision box for free and skipping adverts.

    p.s. dont hobble it by putting loads of drm on the films have already been ripped and posted on the net.

    AC yeah well i hope that the reg fights a little for my privacy for the above comment !!!

  17. SleepyJohn

    "Freetards' are showing the moguls the future

    Well, it seems that while the media industry is moving the deckchairs around on the sinking ship and suing anyone who runs for the lifeboats instead of paying to sit in a chair, some Reg readers are showing them how to fix the leaks and restart the engine. It is a pleasure to read these positive and well-considered ideas instead of the usual 'bring back flogging and hanging for the nasty freetards' hysteria. Those 'freetards' are showing the industry the future - they should be thanking them, not hounding them.

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    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: re:Andrew Orlowski

      Your research needs to be much better before you post long essays of advice for the media industry. Advising them to do things they've tried doesn't show a firm grasp of the subject. It's just wasting your time.

      I can see why you don't want to put you name next to it. I wouldn't...

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