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BT blasts BPI's file-sharing evidence

Headphones

By Barry Collins

Posted on 29 Sep 2009 at 11:00

Britain's biggest ISP and the BPI are locked in a bitter battle of words over the treatment of alleged illegal file sharers.

The music industry group launched a scathing attack on BT in the national press over the weekend, with BPI chief Geoff Taylor branding BT "shameless" for failing to tackle file sharers. The BPI claims it has identified more than 100,000 cases of illegal file sharing on BT's network since February, but that BT has "failed to act on a single one of those".

BT has reacted angrily the accusations. The ISP claims it agreed to send out warning letters to just 1,000 alleged file sharers under a memorandum of understanding signed at the beginning of the year. However, BT claims the BPI deluged it with more than twenty times the agreed figure, many of which were inaccurate.

"During this period, the BPI sent us around 21,000 alleged cases, but less than two-thirds proved to be properly matched to an IP address of a BT customer and not a duplicate, so this could indicate that the true extent of this activity is much lower than the 100,000 number the BPI claim since February," BT claims in a statement.

"In addition, since none of the customers we wrote to during the trial were subsequently taken to court by the BPI, we don't know whether they were actually guilty of infringement."

If you're aware your network is being used for copyright infringement, you have a moral obligation to act

BT admits that the BPI has continued to send reports of alleged file-sharing activity on its network, but says that there was no agreement to act beyond that initial 12-week trial.

"The 12-week agreement was brokered by the Government," a BT spokesman told PC Pro. "There was no agreement after the 12 weeks. There was supposed to be follow-up discussions over who should pay for enforcement in the future. That hasn't happened."

BT also claims the BPI failed to stick to its side of the bargain. "The rights holders were meant to be coming up with a public education programme, which hasn't happened," the BT spokesman added. "The rights holders were meant to look at new business models, which hasn't happened."

"Moral obligation to act"

The BPI says that BT has a duty to act upon its reports of alleged file sharing. "All ISPs know the exact proportion of overall traffic that is peer-to-peer," a BPI spokesman told PC Pro. "It's a sizeable proportion of their traffic. It's very safe to say the overwhelming majority of that [peer-to-peer] traffic is illegal."

"The evidence we are providing includes IP addresses, time and date stamps, and details of the individual files [downloaded]. The evidence is entirely robust - it's been accepted in more than 150 court cases.

"If you're aware your network is being used for copyright infringement, you have a moral obligation to act."

BT says it can't tell how much of the traffic passing over its network is illegal. "We definitely do not know the extent of illegal file sharing on our network," it claims.

"Many peer to peer applications are perfectly legal, such as World of Warcraft, BBC iPlayer and Skype. To investigate the exact nature of each peer-to-peer packet would involve an intrusive level of inspection of people's traffic and customers would rightly complain about BT infringing their privacy where we to do it."

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User comments

"To investigate the exact nature of each peer-to-peer packet would involve an intrusive level of inspection of people's traffic and customers would rightly complain about BT infringing their privacy where we to do it."

Is this the same BT that tested Phorm on unsuspecting users?

By piphil on 29 Sep 2009

Bittorrent traffic can also be 100% legal, as can any other P2P network.

Yes, they can be used for illegal purposes as well, but I'd like to see the BPI's evidence that the overwhelming majority of P2P traffic is illegal...

I used Bittorrent for a long time, downloading 80GB or so a month, that was all 100% legal - I was a tester for a couple of Linux distributions.

The BPI are on to a hiding for nothing with this action. They need to look at education and providing models which are attractive to customers.

By big_D on 29 Sep 2009

pot Kettle and Black come to mind:

"If you're aware your network is being used for copyright infringement, you have a moral obligation to act."

on the other hand,
"If you're aware your Members are alleged druggies deviants drunks (what ever description you can think of that has been used by the press to describe musicians over the years) you too have a moral obligation to act."

too harsh? nah

By Brettrowley1 on 29 Sep 2009

Well you're doomed if you're a World of Warcraft player that talks to their friends on Skype and watches a bit of catch up tv then

By TimoGunt on 29 Sep 2009

Big round of applause for the BPI!!!!!

Well done BPI, now you have annoyed the only people that could have helped you out.

Who's next? What about Intel or AMD, surely they’re also responsible as their chips power the PC which do the downloading download.

You could get them to incorporate a blocking mechanism designed into the chip itself.

I'll stop there, don’t want to give them anymore ideas.

By andy_fogg on 29 Sep 2009

When, Oh When Will They Learn?

"The BPI says that BT has a duty to act upon its reports of alleged file sharing"

No, No they dont! In the same way Ford dont have an obligation to curb drink driving, hit and run's etc.

This is either a job for the courts or central government anything else is just vigilantism.

By JStairmand on 29 Sep 2009

Thin-air mathematics

We can trust them. After all the govenment gets their File-Sharing stats from the BPI (via David Geffen and Mandy)

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00mcwv5/More
_or_Less_04_09_2009/
The government’s figures of 7 million file-sharers in the UK were in fact total spin, provided by the BPI based on an actual figure of 136!!

By cheysuli on 29 Sep 2009

"many of which were inaccurate"

Oh tish and pish! The BPI isn't concerned with trivialities like that.

By Lacrobat on 29 Sep 2009

Surely Music is a small fraction of P2P

Given that MP3 files are only a couple of Meg each, whereas Video and Software are Hundreds of Megs to several Gigabytes, music sharing can only be a very small fraction of p2p traffic. iPlayer uses p2p, skype uses p2p, Spotify uses p2p -and gives me as much music as I could ever want for FREE and it's licensed by the music industry. Spotty kids sharing music they would never pay for should not be the basis of how we plan the future of the internet.

By milliganp on 30 Sep 2009

Not downloaded

The inserted word "downloaded" here
""The evidence we are providing includes IP addresses, time and date stamps, and details of the individual files [downloaded]. The evidence is entirely robust - it's been accepted in more than 150 court cases." must be wrong BPI has no way of detecting illegal downloads. What it detects are files that are UPloaded (ie made available).They do this by posing as a prospective downloader. To detect P2P DOWNloads they would have to spy on actual packets - which they don't have the technical means nor the legal authority to do.

By rccRichard on 30 Sep 2009

a file by any other name

if the file content is not the title wouldn't that upset the (insert random number)of alleged cases?

By ridicule_ronald on 30 Sep 2009

@ridicule_ronald

No, as the BPI's estimates are not based on any real figures anyway

By greemble on 30 Sep 2009

no sh*t Sherlock

"To investigate the exact nature of each peer-to-peer packet would involve an intrusive level of inspection of people's traffic and customers would rightly complain about BT infringing their privacy where we to do it."
********
pot kettle spring to mind about BT, where they not going to do the same thing themselves to provide "targeted adverts" to their customers with phorms webwise??? you know use deep packet inspection to scour a customerss web browsing to see what they could flog to phorm?? they thought it was ok for them so why change their mind when the BPI wants them to do it.

let me guess?? BPI don't want to line their pockets ??

people, do not forget, phorm say they still have a "commercial agreement" with BT and BT have said they believe this system is of interest

peter

By bluecar11 on 1 Oct 2009

@rccRichard

I seem to remember that when using P2P, I saw the IP address, percentage of the stuff currently downloaded, the speed to and from, and to volume of data transferred to and from each person to whom I was connected.

I would therefore assume that this data would be enough to show that an IP address had been using the system to download and share the relevant data.

By ngc001 on 1 Oct 2009

@ngc001

Yes, but to do that, you have to upload the file for others to be able to download it from you

BPI making copyright material available to others?

By greemble on 1 Oct 2009

Money - the root of all evil

BT don't want to disconnect customers - that would cost them money as would any technology to capture and inspect data real-time. Though we must assume that the authorities have the capability.

You can forget Morality - when it comes to businesses, the board and shareholders probably has 666 tattooed on their collective asses!

The entire entertainment industry bemones the loss of revenue to piracy, when they really have only got themselves to blame. If they did not try to squeeze people for all the money they can by charging excessively for products, changing and obseleting technologies so that people have to buy the same film on successive generations of technologies, overcharging for old and ancient films on new media, attempting to introduce charges on a pay per view basis or otherwise limit the ability to access media through DRM for privately and legally owned media or digital files. Their perpetual greed in attempting to rake in anywhere from 100's, 1,000's (or more) of times the amount of money invested, and the extravegant lifestyles that most involved live (and really really don't deserve, particularly when there is poverty and starvation in many parts of the world) suggest that there should be an ethical moral cap on the amount of money that these industries can charge and profit by, perhaps excesses beyond this should be channeled into various legitimate charities rather than the local drug dealers pocket. If they want to deal a death blow to piracy, they should price piracy out of the market. If there is an argument for this it is that the cost of cutting DVD and BR disks costs less than £1 since I can certainly buy DVD's from whsmiths for £1 albeit that the films are rather disappointing!!!

Oh one final note - when someone suggests introducing some kind of law or performing some kind of action - Isn't it amazing how many people object - and I would not be suprised if 99.9% of them isn't commiting the very crimes they would be punished for should the law or action become the norm.

If you don't want to do the time (or pay the price) DON'T DO THE CRIME

By j_woolliscroft on 1 Oct 2009

It's not crime it's copyright infringement. Given the immoral business practices of many large software companies (adobe, MS) and the gouging you mentioned by record companies, why shouldn't people download. Why should people play fair when businesses don't, f u c k them, adapt or die.

You shot your argument in the foot with the last paragraph.

By dodge1963 on 2 Oct 2009

Do BT only allow illegal P2P?

I have often tried Bittorrent to download the latest Linux ISO and have found that BT choked the transfer down to about 30kB/s. I tried all the port setting and service registration tricks and various times of the day, but no adjustment or change of client improved the situation. Using a simple download took much more network capacity, but was 10 times as fast even at peak times.

I subscribe to one of the more expensive BT broadband offerings, so download caps don't really affect me.

I suspect that anyone doing much p2p download other than iPlayer and the like doesn't do it using BT broadband.

By RL520492 on 2 Oct 2009

The economics of the future

"they should price piracy out of the market."

Whilst I do not agree with all of what j_woolliscroft said there is THE solution buried in that long post that has actually started to happen already.

I have no doubt it will permeate all industries with business models that generate revenue online. It's crucial that the media industry just wake up and realise that the IT guys have been saying this for years.

I'm sure many of you are aware of the Google music deal in China. It's progressive and totally stamps out piracy. It's exactly what the media industry should do everywhere else that it’s an issue. People won't begrudge going to a decent cinema to watch a new movie and paying a premium if all the older titles in their catalogue are available freely supported by advertising. Nor would people begrudge going and paying to hear musicians release a new album. That live audience would be paying for what has been missing in the digital era: The experience. THAT is what people used to pay good money for. That's exactly what they won't mind paying for again. I can't help feeling that some in the media industry are so insular that they've forgotten the magic of when you first connect with a band or characters on the silver screen.

I hope the next time this debate crops up people remember where the value lies, because that's what is getting lost in the cost of a download.

By urbanaught on 3 Oct 2009

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