BBC BLOGS - Have Your Say
« Previous | Main | Next »

Should illegal file-sharers be banned from the net?

11:40 UK time, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The boss of BT says people who are caught downloading music illegally should be fined instead of being cut off from using the internet. Do you agree?

Ian Livingston, the British Telecom chief executive, said plans to suspend internet access for those found to be illegally file-sharing goes against natural justice.

He said that the actions of one person should exclude an entire family from using the internet, for example. The plans are contained in the Digital Economy Bill currently going through parliament and have been welcomed by the music industry as a way to try and combat online musical piracy.

What is your view about sharing music online? Do you think illegal fire-sharers should be cut off from the internet? What do you think is an appropriate sanction?


Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Why pick on the people downloading the content, why are the authorities not coming down on the uploaders, the people who put the material on the net in the first place?

    This is just the music industry stirring the pot again, too many middle men scared their cut of the pie is getting smaller. ISP's are jumping because of the noise the music industry & government are making.

  • Comment number 2.

    No. I think they should not be banned from the internet. Simple in the fact that its fast, simple and free/cheap to download something from the internet. It provides a great service.

  • Comment number 3.

    Sad but true. I'm tired of the ridiculous farce of illegal file sharers. I was completely appalled and shocked to hear Ian Livingston's entirely unprofessional approach. Isn't this a great example of what a staggering white elephant British Telecom has become? Wake up sheep before it's too late.

  • Comment number 4.

    I am sick and tired of internet users riding rough-shod over the laws in this and other countries.

    You have to pay for what you want from somebody, just taking it without recompense is theft.

    I buy stuff over the internet and it is so cheap and easy I cannot understand why anyone would begrudge paying for what they want. It costs a lot of money to get access, so people who illegally download cannot claim poverty.

    Any person found illegally downloading should have ALL the equipment in the house confiscated and the house (and occupants) blacklisted for six months minimum.

  • Comment number 5.

    The real problem here is not file sharers, the real problem is the greed of the music and film industries. Surely it would be better to address this greed for example by investigating both for price rigging, hopefully this would mean downloads were more affordable and there would be no market for file sharing.

    But that will never happen, too many contributore to labour party funds wouldnt like it.........

  • Comment number 6.

    Lawmakers are sometimes unaware of how the laws that they pass could directly affect them. Currently there is little in the way to prove that someone is actually downloading illegal content unless you examine their computer hard drive. Since computer hard drives are considered personal property, the police will most likely be barred from examination without a search warrant as this would be seen as a breach of privacy. Therefore most likely they will simply monitor internet traffic for "suspicious activity" and ban users who match a pre-defined "pattern" of activity.

    With the majority of users in the UK not being technologically aware and the push for the popularity of Wi-Fi leaves many homes with internet access open for criminals to use and abuse, with the line owners completely oblivious that their internet connection was being used for illegal purposes.

    How would Lord Mandelson feel if his internet connection was being cut off because someone else hijacked his Wi-Fi and downloaded illegal content, but he was being lumped with the blame and the result?

  • Comment number 7.

    No - illegal file-sharing is here to stay.

    The government and the ISP's can't stop it. Whatever anyone says the pirates will always find a way.

    Also - who can argue that its been a good thing for consumers. I remember before piracy when CD's and DVD's were two or three times the price they are now.

    Piracy has meant that legitimate media has had to compete at a fair price.

    Long may the internet revolution continue.

  • Comment number 8.

    why not stop this by cutting the source, if they are able to monitor people downloading copyright protected content, they should be able to tell from where they are downloading and shut the website or block access to the site from the UK. It should only be the website's that host these file should be penalised and not the layman who is doing something that most people do.

  • Comment number 9.

    Should illegal file-sharers be banned from the net?
    Be careful now.
    You may be denying the illegal file-sharer his/her basic human right to quick and efficient information.
    I say:
    1. Fine the illegal file-sharer.
    2. Block him/her from that particular site.
    Ian Livingston, the British Telecom chief executive, says “plans to suspend internet access for those found to be illegally file-sharing goes against natural justice.”
    Yes, sir, this is my point. We just had a debate on whether access to Internet was a basic human right. So please, reassure me that the Digital Economy Bill currently going through Parliament is worded such that it will not infringe of the basic human rights of illegal file-sharers.
    The Digital Economy Bill:
    1. Attempts to reduce Internet abuse, especially copyright infringement. Internet connections could be suspended upon evidence of infringement.
    2. Amendments to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to increase the criminal liability for "making or dealing with infringing articles" and "making, dealing with or using illicit recordings" (max. fine £50,000).
    3. Internet Service Providers must monitor, send suspicious activity to copyright groups or face a fine of £250,000 for non-compliance.
    4. UK government would also be able directly to intervene to control the use of the UK's domain name space, currently overseen by the independent body "Nominet".
    The Government's Digital Economy Bill would appear to be in breach (and most certainly out-of-step) with current EU laws.
    But I'm sure that someone in parliament has already clarified this issue, right?

  • Comment number 10.

    No. For one, how do you prove who was downloading the file? Many internet connections are shared both at home and in business. It would mean the end of free wi-fi and quite possibly cyber cafés. Next how do you prove the file downloaded was in fact illegal? If the file is encrypted there is no way for the authorities to tell and they can't simply cut someone off for downloading an encrypted file as it may perfectly legal. Lastly there are ways of "spoofing" IP addresses so those determined to download illegaly would do so whilst getting other people cut off. People determined to download illegally could simply route their connection via another country so it looks like they are downloading from outside the UK (where the UK Government would not have any powers). It's a waste of time, drop it now!

  • Comment number 11.

    There is absolutely no proof whatsoever that "illegal file sharing" is hurting the media companies.

    Simply put, those people who download the stuff illegally would not actually go out and buy the stuff anyway, even if illegal downloading didn't exist. Remember "tape2tape" copying back in the '80s? That was much more rife than illegal downloading is these days, and the media companies were doing very well in the '80s.

    The reason that media companies don't make so much money these days is simply because they charge a rediculous amount of money for bad tunes / films.

  • Comment number 12.

    Laws exist to deal with this problem. It's time the government stopped meddling with things they dont really understand.

  • Comment number 13.

    I don't think they should be fined or banned, Goverments should keep their noses out of the internet.

  • Comment number 14.

    If someone walks into a record store and steals hundreds of CDs, they would be fined, given community service or even repeat offenders would be jailed.

    So tell me what the difference is here?

  • Comment number 15.

    "I buy stuff over the internet and it is so cheap and easy I cannot understand why anyone would begrudge paying for what they want. It costs a lot of money to get access, so people who illegally download cannot claim poverty."

    Ive never downloaded any copyrighted music on the internet but I do download music that is put on the internet by the artist why should I and many others who download stuff that is put there for free be punished. Goverments should stop trying police the internet .

  • Comment number 16.

    Wouldn't you say that if you were in chrage of a huge internet firm?

  • Comment number 17.

    Err, let me get this's possible to ban people who illegally download, but not possible to close or monitor sites peddling paedophilia.


  • Comment number 18.

    It should be treated like any other theft - with a caution or fine or jail sentence depending on the size of the crime.

    Disconnecting everyone in a household is not justice as it punishes those not involved in the crime. If your brother stabs someone you don't expect to be sent to prison as well.

  • Comment number 19.

    Of course people shouldn't be cut off for 'illegal' downloading.

    The files that are most often downloaded are music mp3s and movies or television programmes that have not yet been (or will not be) broadcast in the UK. If the entertainment industry hadn't been so short-sighted back in the days of Napster and had actually embraced the technology for distributing their wares things wouldn't be so much like trench warfare.

    I resent the fact that legally speaking if I want to change the format of a movie that I already own (on VHS and DVD) so that I can play it on my PC without having the DVD in the drive I'm technically breaking the law. When I uploaded my whole music CD collection onto my PC, technically I broke the law. Current copyright law is out of date, unfair to the consumer and doesn't take into account the frequent changes to formats that have occurred over the years.

    Don't punish the people who download illegally. Change the law to allow users to to change formats at will and create copies for personal use (such as on the portable mp3 player and on the laptop).

    Why is copyright so long lasting? Lifetime duration plus 70 years is an absurd duration for any 'artistic' work to be protected from being freely distributed. The patent for drugs development is only 10 years - so if the drug company hasn't made enough money during that time then it's tough luck. Why should a record company continue to get royalties from an artist for 70 years after they die?

    The reason that record companies are so agitated by downloading is quite clear - they missed the boat for the digital revolution and the whole industry will have to adapt to the new world order. Unfortunately for them it may mean a lot of governments take a long hard look at copyright law which has thus far provided a steady stream of income for an industry that ceased to be truly creative during the 1980s.

  • Comment number 20.

    This is the wrong question. We should be asking "Is it right that café owners and universities should be cut off from the internet because of abuse by one anonymous user?", "Should UK law be used to prop up an industry which exploits artists and resolutely refuses to migrate away from their old business model?", "Is it right that the Digital Economy Bill will, if passed, permit the blocking of cyber-locker websites on a wholesale basis, to the detriment of UK businesses and individuals with no viable alternative for passing huge files around".

    If this Bill is raced through Parliament in the wash-up process we'll be lumbered with it's ill thought out and poorly examined content for years to come.

  • Comment number 21.

    Music downloads are a part of the internet. Recorded music companies should sell better and cheaper CDs. The quality is finer than downloads. Why not compete against websites selling-off professional music?

  • Comment number 22.

    These dinosaurs need to get with reality. NO filesharing should ever be counted as any copyright infringement for personal use. Stop the lie that anyone loses a penny by it. Rip out the nasty personal monopoly bandit's supposed rights. It is monopoly copyright laws that need altering, ending their arrogant ability to pretend they deserve anything from free copying. We need a new age in the government, not old dinosaurs trying to live off the backs of millions for a moments work once in their lives. Do not want to be copied for personal use then do not record in any form. Work every day for a living.

  • Comment number 23.

    Re: JohnH (comment 4)-

    You forgot 'Spend a night in the stocks, receive twenty lashes, have their noses split and be branded on their foreheads with a 'T' for thief'.

  • Comment number 24.

    Let’s see if I am banned from the internet the authorities would probably put the block on my home connection.

    I can get around that by using wireless to connect to a neighbors unsecured wireless router, I could obtain a wireless "dongle" that uses mobile phone technology, I can use my companies internet access, I can use several local internet cafes I could use the free wifi available at many outlets including trains, bookshops, libraries etc.

    The ways I could access the internet are so varied that it makes the ban an unenforceable piece of nonsense. The people who this legislation is aimed at will not be deterred by it and will probably find it very amusing.

  • Comment number 25.

    What next? do we charge our libraries of sharing (copyrighted)litrature books and leaftlets? The same goes for loaning a friend a book to read or a cd/dvd that you loan somebody will these be next.If a piece of software is bought by myself why shouldnt i loan it somebody,or a console game? that pals lend each other.These are all erossion of our liberties to purchase a book or a game or a bit of software and loan it somebody.

  • Comment number 26.

    Yes Yes and Yes. Who gets the fine does not matter. It usually is goverment or its establishments. It seems that there is a race on to find in how many ways people can be fined and robbed of their earnings. At the moment Councils, London transport and Bailiffs are leading the charts.
    Imagine a penalty £50 doubles in 15-30 days and than jumps to £150 gets transferred to Bailif and sky is the limit. Full support of the goverment and so called independent courts of JUSTICE.
    Bear in mind LOANSHARKING is ILLEGAL.
    You can be sure that even if fine is £10 pounds its a start and youll see £10.000 within a decade.

  • Comment number 27.

    Hello people.

    Unfortunately due to the greed of the movie industry and its begotten son, the music industry, the public was duped into paying a lot for content before the internet arrived. Now that it is possible to gain access to this content it is hardly surprising that the certain members of the public are keeping their wallets tucked safely away.
    Both of those businesses were populated by mediocre salesmen who didn't have the wit to see the internet was coming.
    Now they're paying for their stupidity.
    Thank goodness that one person, Steve Jobs, had the foresight top do something to save those businesses.
    We all have a lot for which to thank Apple.
    Without those businesses there will be no more big new films and no more music..perhaps we are overdue a change anyway in the business model.

  • Comment number 28.

    So, the boss of BT, who make squillions from charging people for internet access, doesn't want people to be denied internet access.

    Gosh, who would have thought it?

  • Comment number 29.

    Considering that the vast majority of jobs require the use of computers this could be as a infringement on working rights. When was that last time a business had a computer that wasn't connected to the internet in some form or another?

    The example here is say that I'm 18 and my sibling downloads, or I'm 40 and my child downloads, a file 'illegally' I am held accountable by having my use of the internet revoked and hence my right to work? If my dad gets caught speeding do I loose my driving license as well?

    This is another knee jerk reaction from a government that has again shown that it doesn't understand how much the internet affects all aspects of modern day life.

  • Comment number 30.

    Livingston has some neck considering the way BT ran its (illegal according to the EU Commission) Phorm trials.

    One rule for them, another for the rest of us!

  • Comment number 31.

    The law on copyright is quite clear: if the copyright holder thinks that I am violating his copyright, he can sue. He then has to prove in a court of law that I have violated his copyright and if he makes his case to the satisfaction of the court I'll have to pay a penalty. That's fair enough. If you think copyright law is archaic - I actually hold copyright on some hymn tunes written by a grandfather I never even knew, and will for another 10 years! - you are probably right.

    It is not up to an ISP to decide if I am violating someone's copyright, let alone take action against me without proving their case in court first. And who is going to pay the ISP for the time spent in analysing internet usage patterns? Not the copyright holders who are complaining, I bet - they want someone to do their work for free... ironic when it is someone trying to enjoy their work for free that they are complaining about in the first place!

    As it happens I download a lot, but legally - I review books distributed as downloadable PDFs. Today I got a couple of MP3s to review as well. How does my usage pattern differ from someone who is grabbing illegal downloads?

  • Comment number 32.

    The only people with a problem is the people who are still downloading films, tv and video games. Other than that what else could you use torrents for. Someone might come up with a random good use but lets be honest, at least with ourselves, thats all its used for.

    Solution. Easy. Turn off the bit torrent feature (throttle it via the ISP) so no-one can use it.

    Of course there are some things worth noting.

    Last year Star Trek was, according to the BBC, one of the top grossing films last year. In another report, by the BBC, Star Trek was also the most downloaded film last year.

    From this we can deduce that, even though Star Trek was the most downloaded film, it had very little effect on the box office.

  • Comment number 33.

    Totally agree with no #5, The music industry has fleeced the music buying public for decades, in my view they have the same ethics as Bankers and MPs

  • Comment number 34.

    Off course the BT boss dosn't want people banned from the internet, if there banned they no longer pay for the service and so BT dont make as much money.

  • Comment number 35.

    There are many holes in what they propose to do, but what bugs me the most about this often re-hashed threat is the fact that they should not be able to tell what an individual is downloading. The data is encrypted in transit, meaning they either have to intercept some/all of the packets and decrypt them, or they are assuming that what you are downloading is illegal because of the method.

    Both of these scenarios are morally wrong. Would it be acceptable for the authorities to monitor the phone conversations of a citizen without a warrant? Is internet communication any different? Are they allowed to intercept and read my email without a warrant? Surely they can't acquire warrants for the millions of households in the UK.

    Another fundamental flaw is accuracy. A friend of mine received a letter from his ISP accusing him of downloading the latest album from a boy band. He was at work at the time of the alleged offence, no one was home. I know his internet connection is secure against your average user because I set it up myself. So either a hacker parked outside of his house and reasonably-skilfully hacked into his WiFi connection or they are 100% mistaken about what happened. How could such allegations get to court?

    Why are no lawyers in this fine land questioning these things on a national level? Come on budding lawyers, make a name for yourself with a test case.

  • Comment number 36.

    No. The authorities should target the uploaders, but this seems to be too much trouble for them, so they target the little man.
    They don't arrest people for buying bootleg DVD's, CD's etc.. from dubious sources, they arrest the sellers and distributers. They don't arrest people who buy drugs, they arrest the dealers.

    Strange times we live in. The authorities seem to be more concerned with the internet activities of file sharers than some of the more dubious online content. That's because they're losing money from it, but it's finally come around that they're getting ripped off, instead of the music buying public who were getting ripped off for years before file sharing began.

    I remember Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits highlighting the rip-off price of CD's in the 80's compared to the price of vinyl and cassettes. He commented that they didn't cost any more to produce than LP's or Tapes, so why were they more expensive (around £4 more expensive) than an LP or tape of the same album?

    What goes round...

  • Comment number 37.

    Since it's not possible to reliably identify a person using a particular IP address (in spite of what some lawyers would have us believe) this is a bill which is going to see lots of completely innocent people having problems.

    It wasn't so long ago that one of these companies sent a letter to a printer demanding it stop downloading...

    There's not a scrap of evidence suggesting the the people who download something would have otherwise bought it anyway. This is nothing more than media companies panicking for the wrong reason...what they should be looking at is the huge amount of cheap to produce but otherwise worthless garbage they push out these days in the name of entertainment, that's the real reason sales are down. If they produced what people wanted to buy, maybe they wouldn't be in this mess now.

  • Comment number 38.

    We've looked into the technology claimed to detect illegal sharing of copyright content for our own use, the problem is it's flawed.

    The different technical bits do work, but there is no way to tell for sure if a video or music is being illegaly or legitimately transfered, this is the big flaw.

    Cutting off or fines would be on a false basis because there would be no firm evidence that it was illegal, just suspicion that it could be, you can't cut off or fine people on that basis.

    Owners are entitled to sell and thus transfer their copy of media or duplicate material that is free to copy that may contain some copyright material under licence.

    For example we licence music to include in video / TV content which is intended to be copyright free. The Music part will show up as copyright material being transfered despite a licence existing. The users would still be warned / fined / or cut off.

    This is just going to make money for the solicitors and the sellers of the technology and trouble for innocent users.

  • Comment number 39.

    Number 32, I was just about to post a similar point.

    It is funny how the movie and music industry are all crying poverty over illegal downloading yet they still release a huge amount of content. Films are receiving bigger and bigger budgets. A recent release, Avatar, is the highest grossing film of all time by quite a long way. So basically, these industries are not adversely affected at all, they just want more.

    It is time they moved with the times and offered free content themselves with advertising attached. They would make a fortune. Who would download illegally when they could get the content from the source?

  • Comment number 40.

    Before you condemn illegal file sharing remember the term is very broad, have you ever lent a CD to a friend? That's illegal. Have you ever recorded soemthing off the TV and kept it for more than a month? That's illegal. Have you ever sold an old video or DVD? That's illegal.

    This bill isn't just about shutting down the huge file sharing sites or those who download ten films a week it's also going to come down a teenager sending his mate a single song over MSN. Governments would love to keep people off the net it's just another way to control us.

  • Comment number 41.

    14. At 1:17pm on 10 Mar 2010, David_L wrote:
    If someone walks into a record store and steals hundreds of CDs, they would be fined, given community service or even repeat offenders would be jailed.

    So tell me what the difference is here?

    The difference is that the record store has already paid for the CD's and they have to pay staff to serve you. Downloading means the track or cd has already been paid for (probably) and is being shared by the uploader. No staff are harmed in this transaction.

  • Comment number 42.

    last week we debated the Governments proposal to add 50p to everybodies landline to pay for the internet; this week its how they want to cut off anybody for doing one of the things the internet is for; Is there anybody in Government who can do joined up writing/ I would have thought this would have been sorted years ago; But then again the threat of cutting someone off gives them more control over the people!

  • Comment number 43.

    Just make sure that if your IP is taking part in any scheme to report file sharers, that you switch providers tout suit.

  • Comment number 44.

    Have the record/film companies not considered that alot of people use these file sharing sites to try before they buy? You wouldn't buy a shirt without looking at it first and maybe trying it on or a car without taking if for a test drive, so the same can go for music. 30 seconds clips on websites like amazon are not adequate to decide if you like an entire album and lets not forget CD's are still fairly expensive.

    Why spend £8 on a cd to only find out its not to your taste and listen to it once when you could download it, listen to it 2 or 3 times and decide whether its worth paying for?

  • Comment number 45.

    The only content I download is totally legal, be it Open Source, made available by the copyright owner or paid for.

    Because for me bandwidth is expensive (i.e. I use a mobile connection) I'm pretty selective about what I download, especially if it's large.

    A lot of those downloading illegally don't realise that when they are downloading, they are on a shared connection with other's (DSL are usually on a contention of 20/1), so they are taking up bandwidth away from other users.

    The problem I have with the disconnection policy is that proof is on the owner of the connection. It's far too easy for someone to use either someone else's connection (from a badly configured wifi router) that those who are blamed for illegal file sharing to be totally innocent (this has happened). This effectively means that it becomes a case of Guilty until proven Innocent rather than the reverse.

  • Comment number 46.

    Who gave BT the right to regulate what you do on the internet? How will they gather evidence? Will they bother? Or is this just about decreasing the amount of traffic on BT's internet service? It seems to me its about getting rid of those who use their service most and increasing profits by keeping those who least use the service they provide. I notice those most likely to be banned are the ones most likely to complain about the lack of "up to 8MB" speed broadband.

  • Comment number 47.

    Illegal file sharing has been around since recording tape hit the domestic market about 65 years ago. It's also illegal to record television and radio broadcast but that didn't stop the video-recorder salesmen.

  • Comment number 48.

    Wasnt there a HYS the other day about Internet access being a Human Right,now there saying ban illegal downloaders.
    Make your mind up.

  • Comment number 49.

    There is fault on both sides. Pirates want to steal any creative media there is out there, pure and simple, they will give you a load of guff about the greed of the music/film/videogame publishers' prices - even if it cost 1p they wouldn't want to pay. You didn't even have to pay Radiohead in Autumn 2007 and In Rainbows was still put on filesharing sites.

    However the legal responses so far have been a sledgehammer to crack a nut. If you have a serial downloader **and you can prove which person it is in a multi-person household** when there might be only the one IP address then the existing laws of the land are there to cover that and it shouldn't lead to cutting off everyone in the house.

    I also agree that if the law says you can't copy what you already own, well sorry but if I have paid for the films Heat and The Terminator on VHS and then they are shown on the BBC and I am legally forced to pay a licence fee to watch them again, I will record a modern copy from the TV showing and will not buy it again on DVD or Blu-Ray. So there needs to be legal clarity when it looks a lot like one UK law is in conflict with another.

  • Comment number 50.

    David_L wrote: "If someone walks into a record store and steals hundreds of CDs, they would be fined, given community service or even repeat offenders would be jailed. So tell me what the difference is here?"

    It's the difference between theft and copyright infringement. With digital copy you're not "permanently depriving the owner or the person with rightful possession of that property or its use", so it's not theft. It's still a crime, but do you really feel it should be treated as severely?

    If I take a high quality photo of a painting in a gallery to make my own print, should I be treated as though I'd stolen the original painting?

  • Comment number 51.

    Since file sharing is a right, albeit one being violated by governments at the behest of their corporate masters, they should be neither fined nor banned.

  • Comment number 52.

    Piracy will never ever be stopped.
    Ubisoft had some draconian method for one of their games where your saves were on the internet and not on your HDD. Ubisoft said it would stop piracy dead in it's tracks and no one would be able to play it got cracked less than a day after coming out.

    The internet is one of the last bastions of free speech and governments are simply far too late in trying to intervene in something they do not understand. Too bad Mr. Mandelson looks like your gonna fail ha!
    And to be honest they only care once it hurts their wallets considerably, they argue that every song downloaded is a lost sale which is incorrect. Do they really think people would otherwise buy 2000 songs?

  • Comment number 53.

    There is something deeper to this, I don't think this has too much to do with films and music. I think it is more about the first tiny steps to control the internet and its usage. Draconian laws do not come in a great big lump, but in a drip-drip-drip.

  • Comment number 54.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    I never know what to say about this mainly because the people buying the music/films are overwelmingly the file downloaders - Something the music/film industry hates to acknowledge.

    If the music/film industry woke up and smelled the music (excuse that please...) they would be dropping their prices full stop. Something that has not happened since the days of tapes - To legally download a movie to own, costs the same as the DVD - The DVD's with "electronic copies" on them are of very poor quality. There is so much wrong with their business models that to be honest I have little sympathy for the execs - I do have sympathy with the artists whose films and music are being pirated because of these stupid execs who think "don't upset my apple cart" - Fools.

  • Comment number 57.

    NethLyn wrote:
    There is fault on both sides. Pirates want to steal any creative media there is out there, pure and simple, they will give you a load of guff about the greed of the music/film/videogame publishers' prices - even if it cost 1p they wouldn't want to pay. You didn't even have to pay Radiohead in Autumn 2007 and In Rainbows was still put on filesharing sites.

    What you are saying is complete rubbish!

  • Comment number 58.

    Fine them, but kick them off until they pay the fine.

  • Comment number 59.

    32. At 1:54pm on 10 Mar 2010, mike wrote:

    The only people with a problem is the people who are still downloading films, tv and video games. Other than that what else could you use torrents for. Someone might come up with a random good use but lets be honest, at least with ourselves, thats all its used for.

    Solution. Easy. Turn off the bit torrent feature (throttle it via the ISP) so no-one can use it.


    mike, I suggest you have a read of some of the most basic information on bittorrent before you proclaim your genius. you might as well have said something like:

    "Solution. Easy. Turn off the internet feature (throttle it via the ISP) so no-one can use it."

    because bittorrent, bt://, is simply a protocol, just like http://, ftp:// and all the others. many of which, it turns out, can and have been used for illegally distributing content. just because people drive too fast in stolen cars, should we ban roads?

  • Comment number 60.

    ...depends on thier musical taste.

  • Comment number 61.

    How about fining ISPs for price-fixing and advertising connectivity rates they can never achieve?

  • Comment number 62.

    If I want to listen to almost any track I can find it on YouTube.
    With blatant examples like this being classed as "legal" it is extremely dificult to criticise a culture of illegal downloading.
    There is now a whole generation that has become used to copying and sharing files over the internet, on USB sticks, recordable CD's and so on and an industry that is getting used to being paid for just a small portion of the copies of their product that is in circulation.
    In light of all of this BT's posturing seems rather feeble and naive.
    However I do symapthise with BT as they should not be liable for the illegal activities customers that are determined to break the law no matter what.

  • Comment number 63.

    As a professional musician and songwriter I'm appalled by the rationalizations being used to justify theft of intellectual property.

    The primary victims in illegal downloading are the writers and performers of the music.
    The main result is a continuing downward spiral of quality.

    Due to the ignorance and delusion of "file sharers" (a nice way of saying thieves) the incentive and means to dedicate oneself to a life as a professional artist are greatly diminished.

    I doubt most of those who support the theft of digital media have any real idea of it's true cost in terms of personal time and financial expenses incurred by the artists they enjoy.

  • Comment number 64.

    Don't understand how people can get banned from using the net. Surely they just get a different identity etc.

  • Comment number 65.

    This government really, really is very, very ignorant.

    If I want to download tunes illegally, I can use my mobile phone, and latch onto an open wireless network. I have software on my phone to download torrent files, and also to access the Gnutella network.

    Also, what happens if (as reported recently) internet access becomes a human right? That will mean that this law currently being propsed will be yet another waste of time and money.

    Still... wasting time & money is what Labour is all about!

  • Comment number 66.

    Stupid people! In order to know what a file is you need to open it and check its contents. These new laws are just attempts to allow ISPs & Govt to intercept and check all your internet traffic.
    If you want to stop online sharing the only way is to drive the price of the product down to an acceptable level - anyone else remember the £35 DVD?

  • Comment number 67.

    In the age of Computers, if one action is taken to stop a piracy either by imposing a fine or doing of a disconnection to give some justice to the producer of the Product, an alternate action shall instantly be found in flick of an eye to get the same illegally. This action cannot produce a result within a particular boundary but must be imposed that religiously everywhere all across the Globe. But for many countries it is a good source of income and hence impossible to impose such a ban so tightly. Therefore instead of imposing such strictures, if we allow the Music Lovers to access these Sites with a very minimal charge imposed, we can possibly make more collection of fund to convert the said desire into reality or else we shall see drainage of fund from within the Country to elsewhere.


  • Comment number 68.

    I think ISP's should offer a downloader's sort of account, where you get more bandwidth and you are allowed to download anything you want, but a percentage of the price you pay goes to the music, movie and software companies.

    If a proper website with good speeds was made, everyone would download from this site, and the files with the most downloads would recieve the biggest percentage of the money you paid.

    I seriously think this is the best way forward. If you don't download a lot, then you wouldn't need the high bandwidth and you would only have to pay for the cheaper accounts.

  • Comment number 69.

    Lots of people seem to be saying that it's ok as they can just "latch onto an open wireless network".

    Part of this Bill makes it practically impossible to run an open wifi network in the UK. The wifi owner is the one liable for any crimes, so all those public wifi spots will dry up. This country will drop back 5 years in terms of internet provision overnight. Genius.

    This Bill is horrible and ill-conceived.

  • Comment number 70.

    "The primary victims in illegal downloading are the writers and performers of the music.
    The main result is a continuing downward spiral of quality."

    The decline in quality is due to record companies wanting manufactured "artists" through such means as boy/girl bands and shows like XFactor and Pop Idol, not file sharing.

  • Comment number 71.

    #14. David_L

    The difference is a CD in a shop is a tangable object that has been manufactured for its sale.

    Downloading a copy is just that, a copy. The original owner is unaffected you have not stolen anything from them. All you have possibly done is got somthing for free you MIGHT of otherwise paid for.

    The main issue here though is that video games, music and video make money grossly out of proportion to the value to humanity they provide. And no mattet how much they whine they make lots and lots of money.

    So personally i couldn't care less. Also for people such as myself such legislation is irrelevant. I get evrything i want for free off the net and have never used a peer to peer network ie: torrents in my life.

  • Comment number 72.

    Suppose I want to watch or listen to something that is not available commercially, but is available as an unauthorised download, what should the law say about that? I might be interested in something that nobody currently publishes. Am I defrauding anyone if I download it or copy it from elsewhere?

  • Comment number 73.

    Simple question: how does the ISP (or who ever is chosen to police this), know that what you're downloading is actually illegal in that state/territory you're in?

    Any serious downloader already encrypts their traffic so anything that is sniffed at packet level by the ISP must firstly be de-crypted, an almost impossible task considering how much traffic must pass through their networks and, I am sure this would break several privacy laws in many countries in the process too.

    Once they have broken the encryption and determined that what is being downloaded is an MP3 file, who's to say that "music.mp3" is actaully illegal? They'd have to compare the actual audio to a "master" list of legal or illegal to download, what's to say that the source isn't legit? How do they know it's not a recording of their child's first words or a song they wrote etc themselves and therefore free from copyright?

    If the ISP decides to throttle bit-torrent traffic, not only are encrypted packets going to bypass this but it will be throttling perfectly legitimate traffic/downloads (for example a Linux distro is often made available via torrent files).

    While I am posting here, I'd also like to "recommend" comment number 28:-

    "28. At 1:52pm on 10 Mar 2010, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:
    So, the boss of BT, who make squillions from charging people for internet access, doesn't want people to be denied internet access. Gosh, who would have thought it?"

    LOL, how true!

    Anyway, back O/T:

    To suggest that an ISP be liable is as rediculous as suggesting a ladder manufacturer or knife manufacturer be liable because a house was burgled or someone was stabbed.

    Likewise, who exactly do you propose is fined in this case?
    If I pay for my home's internet connection and my son/daughter/one of their friends came over and downloads something (assuming that the ISP or the "internet police" discover that the "music.mp3" song they downloaded was not paid for via iTunes for example), why should I be fined? What have I done? NOTHING that's what.

    Unworkable knee-jerk reaction and poor quality journalism as these are the kinds of questions one would expect a decent journo to be asking and providing questions for, instead of just copy/pasting a press release.

    Poor BBC - why do I bother to pay my TV tax?!

  • Comment number 74.

    I'm not happy with file sharers being banned from the internet or fined, unless the movie companies want to pay Mr Berners-Lee a cut, seeing as he's the one who made downloading possible.

    The internet is clearly going to be the basis of how we get our entertainment in the future. Far better that the entertainment companies liaise with the internet providers and come up with a better system. It's important that these firms don't rile the consumer unnecessarily.

    I'd be happy if there was a two-tier system of internet access: you pay a certain amount if you want limited access to simply look up things on a selection of search engines and sites, you pay a greater subscription if you wish to have download facilities but then you're free to watch what you like. The number of download hits on any site would be paid for by the internet provider. The general DVD industry would not be affected - people still want to buy these soon to be outmoded artifacts. Selling DVD copies or recording in cinemas would still be illegal - but nobody would need to do it.

  • Comment number 75.

    The internet has become a vital tool, banning people from it is not fesible, it definitely would equate to a breach of personal freedom and rights (which are protected for even the most vicious criminals so I hardly think should be infringed for what I believe is petty theft). We don't stop people who attack their GP's from having medical care do we? No we don't, and we shouldn't ban people from the net for minor crimes. It amazes me how their is literally millions of dollars and days of effort to fight illegal file sharing and yet not 100 times more to fight people targeting children on the net - and surely our childrens safety is at least 100 time more valuable and important than EMI losing out on £4.50 for an old copy of Dark Side.

    Our society respects and protects money, sadder still it does so at the expense of the most fragile and innocent. This internet 'issue' is just another example of how policy will always be set by the wealthly & powerful and will always seek to protect them in the first instance, not those who actually need protecting the most.

  • Comment number 76.

    Regarding the boss of BT views....I have to agreed with his opinions...First off: FINES are the option if they are severe enough will curtailed the illegal file sharing by users...Then if that doesn't work then cutting internet services will be the second option.


  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    Perhaps they should just blanket tax the internet to make up for the loses, with a bit leftover for a top up on MP's expense accounts, what do you think Gordon?

  • Comment number 79.

    If illegal file sharing of music is so bad why don't we hear more bands and musicians speaking out against it? Instead it always seems to be the recording industry executives complaining about it. Technology has made the music industry's method of doing business obsolete and instead of adapting they're trying to sweep back the tide and preserve their old business model. They may have law on their side but they won't be able to turn back progress no matter how hard they try.

  • Comment number 80.

    Never has there been a debate with so much FUD spread around so thickly.

    People (including the BBC, it seems) should go read up on the difference between "unlawful" and "illegal" for starters - and while they're at it - the difference between "theft" and "copyright infringement".

    Just to kick things off flaming, start with this: So-called "intellectual property" (of course it's not really "property" at all) has ZERO value without artificial restrictions in supply and an an accompanying makey-uppy definition of "property". So we have a situation where so-called "rights holders" have been granted a monopoly on supply by most jurisdictions - for a certain period of time - to enable them to extract payment from consumers for their product. So far, so good/bad.

    Please note that this is not a moral, ethical or legal concept - it is a business case.

    In normal civil law, an aggrieved party has to do a number of things to obtain redress - among other things it has to demonstrate quantifiable damage in a prima facie case against a defendant.

    In not one file-sharing case in history has this requirement been met - file-sharing cases make a mockery of tort law by trashing a defendant's rights from the outset. This is even *if* a defendant is granted the right of due process in the first place! - these proposals involve extracting punitive damages from individuals without any judicial oversight whatsoever and with no redress. The degree to which individuals' basic rights are trashed by this abomination are incalculable, and given the penchant for "The Lord Of Darkness" Mandelson and his cronies to have dinner parties on board David Geffen's luxury yacht, likely irreversible. Be very clear these proposals are the product of corruption and cronyism, not of justice.

  • Comment number 81.

    Oh so you've finally woken up to the Digital Economy Bill, a bit late, its on its third reading in the Lords. Some of us have been going on about this for ages and been almost completely ignored.
    I have no problem with people breaching the copyright of others being prosecuted, nor do I have a problem with ISPs having to identify to the police or courts whose connection is being used for such activity
    I do have a problem with the digital economy bill. My primary objection to this bill relate to clauses 4 – 17 which allow corporate copyright holders, when they suspect infringement of their copyright, to act as witness, prosecutor and judge (with the ISP as "Executioner") whilst the defandant is not permitted mount a legal defence until after sentence is passed. This potentially breaches Article 10, Article 6 as well as ‘Article 1 of the First Protocol’ of the European Convention of Human Rights.

  • Comment number 82.

    File-sharing may be a nuisance in the eyes of many, but it does far less harm than many other nuisances we collectively struggle to rein in: smoking, excessive drinking, bad driving, spreading all sorts of diseases, not to mention assorted other vices.

    How about making as big a fuss over schoolyard bullies as we do over file-sharers? If even the grand-daughter of the Japanese Emperor is not safe from bullies, doesn't that just say it all about this problem? Isn't the horrible torture-murder of Jamie Bulger an example of what happens when a society accepts brutality & violence as some kind of social norm for its young boys?

    Yet there are many who are far more outraged & obsessed with file-sharers than they are with bullies & violent teens. The "economic harm" annoys more than the risk of becoming a victim of young criminals.

    What about the noise level on London streets after 1 a.m.? Thousands upon thousands can't get a proper night's sleep because of young scofflaws bellowing & fighting & pitching blazing rows in the wee hours. How many published reports lament this state of affairs?

    File-sharers should be discouraged. They may be fined in extreme cases -- on a scale commensurate with their means and the degree of the "offence." Most file-sharing goes on due to lack of wherewithal to pay. It does indeed also promote the content, so "creators & producers" need to temper their complaints a bit. A whole lot of content is overpriced. Being popular certainly is a kind of compliment...

    You don't ban drivers for poor parking or driving until they actually just about kill someone -- and sometimes not even then. Don't be too harsh on the file-sharers: the harm done by a single user tends to be rather tiny, and so the punishment, and the fuss, should not be out of proportion.

    Every innovation will have its negative effect to counterbalance the positive. Relax. Unless they are sharing files that actually encourage obvious criminal activity -- e.g. subversive or threatening content, or for example actual dangerous code, such as instructions on how to hack into a corporate server or hijack identities or set up criminal networks -- the basic file-sharer is just using the Internet like a circulating or lending library. That is very difficult to restrict much less prosecute. But when they are after something bigger & more ominous than a film, song or game: there you have a case. Disseminating or accumulating the building blocks of malware -- giving or receiving training in hacking -- grooming youngsters for crime by hosting networks ("forums") where subversion, "revolution" and anarchy (including self-harm) are promoted, taught or praised -- should certainly be prosecuted.

    By that definition, "pro-ana" websites & the services that host them should be prosecuted. So should those who advertise on such sites. Sites & services that teach spamming, recruit spammers, describe how to "phish" should be prosecuted. "Interest group" forums where violence is promoted, hate speech & violent speech tolerated, and bright youngsters solicited to "practice writing code" -- those should also be prosecuted. These are actually grooming operations which provide feeder channels for far more sinister & sophisticated recruitment operations.

    There is plenty of Internet subculture that does indeed merit closer looks, better controls and indeed prosecution. Downloading a performance by Maria Callas or a copy of "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly" cannot become the basis for punishing all those who crave content that exists -- since most of these cravings are innocent enough. They are certainly far too oceanic in scale for anyone to be able to shut off all the torrents completely.

  • Comment number 83.

    until people understand how p2p works then they should stop coming up with crack pot policies,

    personally most poeple commenting on here should learn how it works rather than saying just ban them,
    its not that simple

  • Comment number 84.

    This debate is happening just as the sleepy traditional media business is waking up to the real value of P2P - see .

    In fact (according to the current Economist Technology Quarterly - 6th March p8) the BBC used P2P for its initial Iplayer implementation. How will these 'legitimate' uses be distinguished BY THE USER'S ISP from so-called 'illegitimate' uses?

  • Comment number 85.

    This is just corporate greed talking, and I am sickened by the brain-dead who back them. Remember kids, home-taping is killing music (funny, I thought it was Radio 1).

  • Comment number 86.

    Someone mentioned this before, and I completely agree. Why is the government attempting to pass a bill to look at the downloading of illegal filesharing content regarding copyright infringement, and not thinking of making a stand in such a regard against child porn.

    Frankly, I think it says something that the big bosses of labels get the ear of the government to such an extent that a provisional idea of a bill to ban people from the internet from looking at their downloading of songs, films, games etc is around when there are people out there who download child pornography and whatever else they can find on the internet who should come top top priority over some 15 year old teenagers in terms of looking at what is being downloaded and who by.

    But then, if it was possible, it would be done. And as it is impossible to watch internet traffic efficiently, i take this to mean that its just bluster and an attempt to scare people into stopping.

  • Comment number 87.

    no fining them is no use banning is the answer as far as I`am concerned like hackers they are the lowest form of life , why because it gives governments an excuse to regulate and sensor the last source of information that they do not already control

  • Comment number 88.

    This whole business of filing sharing is like "closing the stable door after the horse has bolted". It has been going on for so long now and I don't get the impression that our pop stars and record companies are really suffering all that much. It is a different matter entirely when pirate copies are made for sale and that definitely is wrong and should be punished.

  • Comment number 89.

    Am I bothered, either way?

  • Comment number 90.

    I agree with comment #82. It is time this thing was put in its proper perspective.

    By the way, I can't help noticing that it is mostly the recording companies who are at the forefront of efforts to get these restrictive and (ultimately - probably) useless laws on the statute book in the UK and elsewhere. Not surprising when their traditional - and now clearly outmoded - business model is being threatened. Its as if typewriter manufacturers pushed for a law limiting the sale of pcs and word processors when they were first introduced - trying to avoid the inevitable knock-out from a replacement technology.

    Recording artists (apart from a few) get a pittance from their recording contracts - most of the money from CDs goes to the companies. They make matters worse by trying to charge us the full whack each time we want the same thing in a different format. Got the CD but want the itunes? ... pay up! Got the VHS tape but want the DVD? ... pay up. Got the vinyl but want the mp3? ... pay up. God forbid we should simply copy the original from one format to another for our own use.

  • Comment number 91.

    If we are to believe the figures given to us,then last year and so far this year has seen a huge leap in profits for the media companies,so how is file sharing hurting them?
    In any case,I would agree with those who say that it is the "uploaders"that should be stopped not Joe blogs,this whole idea is just another money making(taking)scheme if you ask me and one more erosion of our freedoms.

  • Comment number 92.

    No they should not be banned. It would be difficult to do anyway, since they could easily use another account. At the moment there is no reliable way to determine who is actually using an account. We would all have to have personal passwords, without which access would need to be denied by all ISPs.

    If record companies have evidence of piracy, they should rely on the normal processes of law, sue for damages and let their evidence be tested in court. There is no valid reason why an exception should be made to the normal rule of law for these particular companies.

  • Comment number 93.

    I can not see the reason for illegal file-sharing - not only is it against the law, but there is always that chance the person downloading a file, may also download a killer virus.
    I purchase my CD`s & DVD`s from a reputable online company and I`ve never paid the price they are asking in high street supermarkets etc.
    I can pay £10 or more less for the same DVD from this online company than the asking price from the supermarkets/shops etc.
    So no-one can use the price of CD or DVD as an excuse for illegal file-sharing - it is wrong and it is illegal. Anyone caught will get no sympathy from me, simple as that.

    P.S. I can get the latest film on DVD a few months after it`s realease for aprrox` £15 less than it`s asking price in supermarkets etc.

  • Comment number 94.

    "Liam wrote: No. I think they should not be banned from the internet. Simple in the fact that its fast, simple and free/cheap to download something from the internet. It provides a great service"

    It's also illegal. I suppose you also support shoplifters - or is that somehow different?

  • Comment number 95.

    The best bits of the pirated DVD's is that you don't have to sit though 10 minutes of not buy pirated dvds and comparing it to stealing cars and running over over old biddys, if the adverts were remotely in line with crime, it should say "you wouldnt photo graph a famous painting" or "you wouldn't steal some post-it notes"

  • Comment number 96.

    It's obvious that the majority here have never created anything and licensed it for sale. Had you done so, and had your work basically stolen, you wouldn't be so complacent about theft.

    This isn't about the record companies - it's about the artists and the fact that file sharers are evading paying for copyrighted material.

  • Comment number 97.

    As someone who actually works in the music business, has run small labels, supported 100s of bands over 20 years, grown a business in the 90s that was a relative success and provided millions of pounds worth of employment and taxation over that time, i have to say that right now, I just give up. Hanging up my boots this year and doing something else.

    You're all correct in your arguments above. Illegal filesharing is never going to go away. What is going to go away is myself, my employees, my bands, etc. because there is no future for small to medium sized businesses in the recorded music business.

    I don't blame filesharing, although it does have some effect I'm sure - two weeks before a recent album came out it was hosted across the internet for free download - but I do think technology and the way we use it nowadays has changed the world of media forever.

    This is the generation of shuffle, of immediate gratification, never waiting or anticipating; everything is available at the click of the button and it is fantastic. Music is streamed across the world as are tv shows and videos. We've never had more media to enjoy and like water and air we take it all for granted - it is of no value to us. Download, listen, delete and repeat.

    The flip side is that to create new music that is worth a damn still requires talent and dedication; it requires expertise to record and produce. Anyone can make music these days and when you hear most of it - well, where's the quality control? There are no filters, nobody saying "actually that's a bit crap", it's all just splurged onto the net in one huge unholy godless mess.

    The big companies have cottoned on to the fact that TV tie-in acts and pure-pop which suits daytime radio is where its at. They're not investing in new young acts like they were evena few years ago and even all of the big acts of the last decade are looking over their shoulder wondering if they'll even bother releasing another album.

    The funniest thing about the whole debate is that people think they're attacking the big fat cats in the major labels. I didn't notice the Grammys or Brits looking particularly sombre this year and that is because these big companies will survive, diversify and change their business; they'll keep trotting out what the public wants day in day out as long as it turns a profit and back catalogues will be exploited until they are squeezed dry.

    Anyway, keep on sharing your files but, ya know, it would be nice if people popped along to a gig by the bands once in a while too, maybe even bought a t shirt. Look after your local strolling minstrels because they can no longer look after themselves.

    Anyway, back to the local job pages.

    "When the music's over, turn off the lights..."

  • Comment number 98.

    Its time the Music industry changed their business model. They CANNOT control distribution like they did with LPs, tapes, CDs. It is digital now. Innovate, or die like a good capitalist industry.

    Draconian steps to curb piracy (Like DRM) has simply driven far more people to become pirates. Music will live on.

    The gaming industry is beginning to get the message, but then you get utter stupidity from console companies banning half their users.

    The film industry is the next one that needs to learn the lessons from the failures of the music industry. Broadband is not going to get slower.

    When 1 in 6 people in the UK are involved, it is the law that needs looking at, not the continued punishment of the masses.

  • Comment number 99.

    If this goes the way of the RIAA scheme then innocent people will suffer. There was the case this week of them going after a family who don't even own a computer. There have been cases in the past of them demanding money from pensioners who don't know how to use a computer and children as young as 6.

    How exactly are they going to determine who is sharing copyrighted material illegally? How do they know what data I am receiving? I play online games, stream from BBC, C4, share legitimately over P2P - BBCi player uses P2P after all. Are they just going to say 'oh his traffic looks high lets accuse him of being a criminal'?

    Do they plan on intercepting all packets of data to determine what they contain? That's something akin to wire-tapping therefore requiring a court order, otherwise it's illegal and inadmissable at court. If the ISPs are tapping then surely business data is at risk and all kinds of implications open up around Data Protection and industrial espionage.

    Also they can only track to an IP address. Who is to say who uses that IP? I don't have a static IP and despite my best efforts at security I can't guarantee nobody can hijack my connection.

    Another hair-brained scheme by this government!

  • Comment number 100.

    Why should anyone care what happens to serial freeloaders who constantly complain when they can't get something for nothing? There's some justification in downloading or sharing things that aren't available to buy, and the music industry over-reacts far too much the other way (seeming to think it's fine to expect you to pay several times over for the same thing in different formats, or getting upset just because someone uses some of their music in a YouTube video, for example), but those are side issues. Perhaps those noting the rubbish being churned out as music should consider the fact that it's probably not worth the effort of producing quality if people are just going to help themselves to it.


Page 1 of 4

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.