Ofcom getting ready to grass up filesharers to copyright holders

29 May 2010


Ofcom have revealed their draft code of practice for dealing for illegal downloaders under the Digital Economy Act – and it’s a bit wacky to say the least.

Under the code, ISPs will collect the details of naughty downloaders, issuing them with warning letters every time they are caught doing a naughty download. Any user who receives three letters within a 12-month period will have their personal details handed over to the owners of the copyrighted material so that they can be sued.

But Ofcom’s code will initially only apply to ISPs with over 400,00 customers, namely BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange, O2 and the Post Office – the big seven who have 96% of the UK’s internet customers.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you want to secure yourself against a lawsuit, you’ll switch to one of the countless other smaller ISPs that aren’t on the list. Ofcom say they’ll review the situation on a quarterly basis and could extend their code to cover smaller ISPs if they feel they need to.

But the proposed code has been greeted with a wave of dissent. Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group said: “Letters being sent out could cause a lot of worry and fear. People may feel they are under surveillance,” adding, “This is another extremely rushed process, forced by the Digital Economy Act's absurd timetables. There are huge unanswered questions, not least whether innocent people will have to pay to appeal.”

A group made up of the Communications Consumer Panel, Consumer Focus, Which?, Citizens Advice and the Open Rights Group has been formed to produce a set of principles that they believe will ensure that consumers are protected under the new code.

Their principles include that there should be sound evidence of wrongdoing before any action is taken against a consumer; that comprehensive and consistent information needs to be provided to all suspected repeat infringers and this should be written in plain English; that consumers must have the right to defend themselves; and that there is an independent and transparent appeals process is essential, at no cost to the customer.


TOPICS:   Technology


  • Alexis
    So Ofcom are going to become the new DVLA - selling the public's details for profit. Will companies then bother suing? Surely easier and cheaper just to bombard them with threatening junkmail, as has been going on from certain unreputable solicitors.
  • william
    and how are they to know if you are illegally downloading? For instance, I have sky1 HD and can watch flash forward on a monday, but choose to download on the previous Sunday. Do I not have the right to do this as I pay for the program through Sky anyway?
  • Pizza_D_Action
    Stupid legislation that will only benefit two sets of people.... 1. the smaller ISP's and 2. the people who sell pirate movies / music over the internet and post it out on dvd's or those that sell at car boot sales.... They say "piracy supports terrorism" - well if someone downloads stuff for free off the internet it doesn't.... but lets stop people downloading for free from the internet and drive them back to buying from the terrorists.
  • untouched f.
    I'm still not sure if downloading a show that has been broadcast is illegal or not. Surely if it's been broadcast then the producer/creator/etc has given implied permission.
  • Alexis
    To sue means to obtain recompense to put the injured party in the same position as if the download had not occurred. You can't sue to make profit. So, if you were to download a film, you've caused a loss of say £15 to the copyright owner. Now the issue is how many you have uploaded. You don't upload a whole film to one person, you upload many many small chunks to various people. You would have to upload for many hours at a fast speed to distribute complete copies. The question is, did uploading a chunk to someone cause them to not purchase the DVD and cause a full £15 loss? In that case, you could be sued for uploading 30 seconds to You Tube. If 100,000 people view it, does that mean you can be sued for £1.5million? Of course not. Copyright owners know this and would rather send out threatening letters for £500 rather than attempt to sue people for the cost of a £15 DVD.
  • Jah
    But hang on.... If you UPLOAD, theres nothing to prove anyone DOWNLOADED it? And, Alexis, although the £15 loss would be to the copyright holder, wouldnt you also be 'fined' for illegal sharing, which may cost a LOT more? Proves the point though...very confusing, unclear and will scare-monger no doubt!
  • Alexis
    Private companies or individuals have no power in law to fine others. Ofcom is talking of purely civil claims, in which case the claimant would have to demonstrate tangible loss.
  • Kev
    Keep using newsgroups, keep using SSL when downloading and they wont know shit. Where will you get a letter from when they dont know what your downloading ?
  • Lockdown M.
    Think i will just unsecure my router in that case and put a monitor widget onto my desktop to see who is connected. If my router was unsecured then it could have been anyone for all they know downloading it ... If i see someone else using my connection then i will either password protect it temporarily and/or go into their IP and have a play with there computer
  • Ellie M.
    Why 3 in 12 months before they take action? Theft is theft and if caught once the ISP should pass on customer details to the copyright owners. The upside is all the warez thieving gits and kiddie porn merchants will move to dodgy backstreet ISPs freeing up bandwith for honest customers.
  • mo
    "It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you want to secure yourself against a lawsuit, you’ll switch to one of the countless other smaller ISPs that aren’t on the list." Surely that would mean the small ISP becoming a big one and therefore have to comply with the DEB
  • confused
    Does anyone know where I can download Ironman 2 ??
  • Alexis
    "“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you want to secure yourself against a lawsuit, you’ll switch to one of the countless other smaller ISPs that aren’t on the list.” Surely that would mean the small ISP becoming a big one and therefore have to comply with the DEB" Depends if the ISP wants to set up another company using the same network. Once my O2 contract expires in October I'll be moving to BE. Same network, smaller ISP. Not because I'm an illegal downloader, but for peace of mind in case someone else on my wireless network does something. Why should I be responsible if I'm the bill payer if my housemate or a friend downloads something?
  • Kevin
    How would they know that it was DEFINITELY you? From all the lawyers con letters that were sent out the system used was not legal in the EU and also false IP addresses and ranges were put into the system. So surely all it would take is one example of an IP address being incorrect (being assigned to a photocopier, or being proved that noone was there, or even of it being the BPI range for example) to make these rules unenforceable?
  • Sloman
    Catch me and my 256bit SSL Usenet connection hahahahahahahahahahahaha
  • Michael
    bitterwaller forgot to mention that this doesnt come in to practice till april next year... plenty of time to stock up on the illegal material.
  • ilovepink----minge
    my husband has pierced nipps
  • Mike
    What about rapidshare downloads? Could they put a block on that like Virgin did they other day?
  • Carl B.
    UK Gov seeks to crimialize all Net users to gain revenues More untenable Laws from the’ UK Law Makers’ with the sole purpose it seems to crimialize everyone for the sake of collecting additional revenue streams.This maybe seen as a means of supplementing lost revenues from an ever-increasing Bankrupt proven incompetent Government. Any private home or business could have someone download Copyright material illegally without the owner’s knowledge or consent. This ‘Daft Draft’ proposal yet again proves no one in Government seems to understand the basic rudimentary elements of the Internet. If anyone should complain as to 'Copyright Infringement' it should perhaps be me. As after releasing the Formula for 'Worlds First Communications Platforms High Capacity Super Controller' under strictly controlled contracts to BT in 1995 I am informed it is allegedly being used under the name of A.N.P.D.S. in breach of agreements in the MoD. Link to proof document here: http://tinyurl.com/ycsgu49 Signed Carl Barron Chairman of agpcuk http://carl-agpcuk.livejournal.com/ http://www.dorsetvisualguide.co.uk/

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