Rory Cellan-Jones

Who is batting for file-sharing proposals?

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 25 Aug 09, 15:39 GMT

"Peter just doesn't get the internet..."

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson seen on the display of a video camera during a visit to Visual Planet in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 28, 2009That was the instant reaction of one person I spoke to this morning about the government's new measures against illegal file-sharing - and Lord Mandelson's part in them. And this was not someone from digital campaigners the Open Rights Group or from an internet service provider, but a political insider from the same party as the business secretary.

The reaction to tough new proposals which could see those who repeatedly indulge in illegal file-sharing have their internet connections suspended has not, it's fair to say, been universally positive.

An executive from a major software business, who did not want to be named, rang me within hours of the announcement to express astonishment."What are they doing?" he asked. "It just won't work - when so many people have unsecured wireless networks, how are you going to pinpoint who the file-sharer is?"

Another critic was not so shy about coming forward. TalkTalk, whose boss Charles Dunstone has long made clear his distaste for anything that would force his business to police its own customers, put out a humdinger of a press release.

It accused the government of a U-turn and said Lord Mandelson had "caved in under pressure from powerful lobbyists in the content industry." And the company emphasised again that this policy would not work and would be strongly resisted. Other ISPs joined in the attack, albeit in more restrained a manner than TalkTalk.

Who, then, was batting for the proposals? Well, obviously the music and video industries, but even they seemed somewhat cautious in their support for what are seen as pretty radical measures. "We don't want to be seen as crowing," one spokesman told me.

It's important that this should be seen as the latest battle in the war between the content industries and the ISPs for the government's support on the file-sharing issue, with this proving a rare victory for the media barons. My understanding is that the original draft of Digital Britain did contain some strong anti-piracy measures, but that Lord Carter stepped in and toned them down.

Now Stephen Carter has left the government and it appears that Lord Mandelson has tipped the balance back towards the interests of the entertainment industries. While much has been made of the dinner attended by the business secretary and the Hollywood mogul David Geffen - the government insists they never even mentioned Digital Britain - there has also been plenty of high-level pressure from the UK film, television and music industries. They sincerely believe that a vital part of our economy is under threat - and that the issue was not taken seriously enough in the original report.

But this battle isn't over yet. By lunchtime, the Department for Business was putting out a new statement stressing that the government does not believe that "taking tough action against consumers is the right approach in every case" and even suggesting that "we have not changed our policy from the Digital Britain report".

The message seems to be that in the battle over anti-piracy measures, there's still plenty to play for. And if Lord Mandelson really "doesn't get the internet", you can be sure that there will be plenty of people now offering to educate him.


  • Comment number 1.

    Again we see the problems that occur when people in positions of power have no expertise in the area they are in charge of.

    I'm willing to bet that most ISPs will not police their networks like Lord Mandellson wants, simply because they don't want to have to pay for staff when it will be the media companies who get the money from the resultant court cases.

  • Comment number 2.

    So how to ISP see how some one is using them for Torrent downloads? If it's by data, a lot of data is transferred when using BBC iPlayer, so how can they justify what's what?

    Also, as stated, there's a lot of unprotected wireless routers out there, so people can connect, download torrents and as a result, the people who have the un-protected routers will be banished from the ISP?

  • Comment number 3.

    He's like freddy krueger, he keeps coming back in even worse nightmares, stronger than ever.

  • Comment number 4.

    As most content downloaded is probably foreign material (ie American), there is probably a net gain to the economy, as some people are obtaining material that they would otherwise have had to pay top-dollar for. By clamping down on this practice, it can only lead to a further deterioration in our already dire balance of payments.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Peter just doesn't get the internet..."

    What an excellent way to summarise this latest story. There is no way that this proposal is going to stop illegal file sharing. All it will do is further alienate those who are illegally file sharing and make them less likely to buy things legally.

    If the content industries want to stop illegal file sharing, they need to stop treating their customers like criminals.

    Just to give an example (apologies to those who've read this example before, as I know I've posted it here at least once before, but I'm still absolutely flabberghasted by it), I watch my movies on Linux computer. I toyed with fitting it with a Blu-Ray drive so I could watch movies in high definition.

    I contacted Sony's Blu-Ray department, and asked them about playing Blu-Ray movies on my Linux computer. They told me that this would be a breach of copyright and therefore illegal.

    Now, if I'm going to be in breach of copyright even if I go out and buy the disks, what incentive is there for me not to download illegally?

    I don't think the so-called entertainment industry has any right to complain about piracy causing falling sales when they themselves are telling potential customers not to buy their product.

  • Comment number 6.

    The government, at its highest levels doesn't get the internet. They're such easy meat that they keep inviting self interested lobby groups on board as advisers. The interests of business in the internet, those of the government and indeed those of the electorate (not that anybody considers us as stakeholders) are not congruent. They're just adding fuel to the bonfire of their vanities to come.

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    Ahh the slow demise of the last great democracy; the tinterweb tubes.

    This is aboslute stupidity, and shows a huge lack of understanding.

    For one, an IP != a person. So does that mean the everyone in a household gets cut off due to little johny downloading something? And what about WEP cracking, british ISPs are still shipping out routers to customers with WEP enabled by default. I go to my girlfriends flat, fire up airodump and about half of all APs are WEP. The flats are new builds so the connections havent been there long.

    Then what about encrption of BT traffic, and of course news groups. Then there is all the legal content that is available via protocalls such as Bit Torrent. I just dont see how this can be reliably enfocred; my points above, open Wifi, univeristies etc etc.

    Also, if ISPs are forced into this, overheads, both finacially and on the network are going to increase, so therefore what? We pay more for a worse service?

    And its not like things like this have ever been abused in the past by goverment or local authority is it?

  • Comment number 9.

    I love this sort of thing.

    Let them do their worst, there'll be such a back-lash from customers it'll never work, ISPs that start policing their users will lose customers in droves. When it hits them in the wallet we'll see how eager they are to continue cutting people off. Plus there'll be the inevitable law suits for wrongful accusation.

    And, they forget. Filesharers can change tactics overnight, it doesn't take 'til 2012 for people to start masking their IP or to start using SSL encryption. A number of sites already offer SSL as an option.

    And then there's nothing to stop anyone jumping ship to another ISP that won't be enforcing measures like this.

    BT and Talk Talk realised this with the Phorm fiasco.

  • Comment number 10.

    Great summary that breaks the debate down and shows the technical arguments for once!

    Government ministers look dangerously out of touch on this most important of issues. Though that was never really going to surprise anyone I suppose.

  • Comment number 11.

    Was looking forward to seeing how the discussion would develop here. However, there's not much chance of any sort of conversation if it takes an hour for each comment to be approved.

  • Comment number 12.

    Politicians are amateurs - at almost every thing they do. Peter Mandelson is a professional politician - and an amateur at everything else. He's a born meddler, though, so he can't resist taking some sort of action - any sort of action. And because he's got so many jobs, he's appearing to take action every day. I suppose if you do enough things eventually you will get one of them right, by chance. Keep trying Peter - you just might strike lucky.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm sympathetic to the enertainment industries, up to a point.

    The problem is that they've traditionally charged too much for their products, partly to fuel their rock-stars lavish life-styles and bad habits...

    What's needed is a compromise, with a little bit of policing (along the lines suggested) when the hard-core pirates just don't get the message....

  • Comment number 14.

    I can't help thinking that crackdowns will just drive people underground into using encrypted anonymous services like Freenet (or its recent user-developed fork - FCON - recently started on Sourceforge). Systems like Freenet/FCON, originally developed to support freedom of speech in repressive regimes, mean that the ISPs would be unable to report who is downloading what.
    I also wonder why a supposedly left-wing, democratic, Government has to have so many peers rather than elected ministers. Unelected ministers that are so obviously prone to lobbying, and who take out dodgy loans, are a danger to the country and our economy.

  • Comment number 15.

    This illegal file sharing has been around for long time.Can someone explain to me why it is illegal?

    I buy a DVD so I have purchased the item. I then want to "give" that DVD to someone in a digital format, just like when I used a twin taping deck to copy and give that to someone.

    Most DVD do have a disclaimer that roughly that unauthorised copying and distribution will......and so on. So who can we go to authorise who I can give a copy to?

  • Comment number 16.

    The continuing problem is that it isn't just Peter, the media publishers don't seem to get the Internet either (or perhaps that is intentional). One factor is the obsession with very restricted DRMs, that can only be used on limited platforms/OSs (usually the ones you also have to pay a lot for). Another is the limited and slow release of material, and particularly regional restrictions, which makes little sense in this rapidly diminishing global village. No one wants to restrict the incomes of the creative artists, or the industries that produce the things we want to hear and watch, but its actually the publishers restrictive practices that are creating the bottleneck that encourages large scale piracy.

  • Comment number 17.

    Lord Munchausen of Hartlepool & Foy certainly doesn't "get the internet" but then nor do any of the other unelected plutocrats in his department.

    By the way, if you want a better conspiracy theory, remember that it was Munchausen who gave Mrs T's EU rebate money back, so perhaps today's media storm over unauthorised downloading kept something else away from the BBC phone ins? This, for example...

  • Comment number 18.

    For any Minister, and a totally *unelected* one with a very questionable past at that, to take a personal interest in one aspect of government policy and ride roughshod over it is truly astonishing.

  • Comment number 19.

    This is really dumb.

    EU Parliament rejects EU Telecomms Package due to amendment 138, which was attempting to cut people off without an independent judicial review.

    French Supreme Court rejects a similar effort by Sarkozy, ditto in NZ.

    Mandelson on the loose in Corfu in August, nightmare. Where's Princess Anne's dog when you need it

  • Comment number 20.

    "Peter just doesn't get the internet..."

    That's right he doesn't get the internet. What he does get is the rubbish spouted by the BPI and the nice fat backhander they and other "concerned parties" probably provided him for pushing this through.

    Just another show of the way big business is in charge of UK politics.

    File sharing, Piracy, whatver you wish to call it, is not theft, theft is taking an item and leaving the owner without that item.

    In file sharing a copy of an item that has been paid for is copied again and distributed for nothing, the owner is still left with the original and has been paid for the initial copy that was copied and can sell more copies if he/she wishes to.

    If those copies are distributed for monies as is the case with boot sale fake DVD sales then fair enough, there is an argument to be considered there.

    However this file sharing is evil argument boils down to greed.

    The execs at the top are seeing their multimillion pay schemes squeezed so they cite file sharing as the cause.

    And yet again the easy route is taken, rather than looking in-house at their own practices and the way THE CONSUMER wants to access the material they target the defenceless...

    At the next election I won't be voting Liberal, Tory or Labour, I'll be voting Pirate!

  • Comment number 21.

    We do not know yet exactly what is proposed but it could become prohibitively onerous to monitor, and what level is it decided a breach has taken place.

    If for instance copyright rules as would apply to photocopying were to apply to each web page then nearly every ISP user would have seen or stored pages or links to pages that contravene copyright law.

    Or is this only going to apply to video/audio, in which case what length is allowed as a clip before it becomes an infringing copy.
    If it is enforced then initially at least, an awful lot of users with security problems are going to find their accounts used illegally and will be penalised or barred.

    What if that user is a business with thousands of multiple users, maybe with its income dependent on internet use does the business have to cease internet use and therefore cease trading.

  • Comment number 22.

    The issue of illegal downloads should hardly be a priority for the government (especially provoking such a tough response). The film industry is having it's best years of all time and the amount of money it would cost to enforce this would be ridiculous considering the very tiny (if any) gain.

    The courts would have to prove that the IP was being used by the owner of the connection, which is incredibly difficult considering insecure networks, IP Spoofing, unreliable sources of data, and so on. This would cost a fortune.

    Wait, what am I thinking? The government will give some group the authority to be judge, jury and executioner without any kind of appeal or ability to defend yourself or even question the system. If they think you're guilty then that's it! Bye bye internet connection.

    And how would they ascertain that the content being uploaded is illegal? Connect to a user's computer and download it from them? If that's the case then perhaps it would never have been uploaded if the authority hadn't downloaded it.

    The government is treating this as a black and white issue with a simple answer, which is really quite scary. This topic is so far from black and white that it's a big fat grey-brown splodge.

    They very much do not get it.

  • Comment number 23.

    By 'get' I take it you mean 'understand'. And you are a BBC journalist?! Don't try and be cool with hip phrases when you are old enough to be my father Mr. Jones.
    Now, as for the substantive point: If I went into HMV and was caught stealing a DVD or CD I would be prosecuted, and rightly so. How is internet file sharing any different? Answer: it isn't. And every single poster so far on here is hiding behind technical mumbo jumbo to try and justify their theft. Pathetic. It's high time the Govt clamped down on this practice and exposed it for what it is: criminal activity. Hats off to you Lord Mandy.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think these rules are great, problem is nobody tried to enforce them! Either that or content providers add to the problem, take this great example.

    I was looking for "Def Leppard" a few weeks back, I wanted it within the next 15 minutes, not 4 weeks Amazon advertised for delivery. I thought okay, lets check iTunes... Nothing, Amazon MP3's... Nothing, 7 Digital… Nothing. Seems it's not available. So I popped onto your friendly web torrent search, typed in Def Leppard and instantly up comes several albums. Downloaded it within 5 minutes.

    They think I would wait 4 weeks for Amazon! The Film, music and books industry need to get their respective houses in order before they criticise people for pirating content. The music industry cant decide who to license content to, films are few and far between online and books well you can often buy the paper copy cheaper than a digital one, I mean whats up with that!

    Also who elected Peter Mandleson? I keep forgetting that Dictator Brown did!

  • Comment number 25.

    "Peter just doesn't get the internet..."

    I think thats irrelevant as he would be acting the same even if he did. Geffen has had his ear.......

    If you have some power and some money and want to influence law in Britain it appears Petes the Minister in charge of the relevent ministry.

    New Labour have reached that point a while back where they are more interested in themselves than getting re-elected. Every Government gets to that point.....a good spell in opposition wakes them up a bit.

  • Comment number 26.

    @23, bazza001

    Ok, imagine instead of the internet being used to download films, people are sending them through the post. Is it the responsibility of Royal Mail to police what people send? And is it right that Royal Mail would open everyone's letters (including yours, even though you are innocent), just to check that they're not sending or receiving films? All those letters including your credit cards, your bank statements etc. And should someone use your address to get a film sent to, maybe someone in your family or maybe just the man next door, and it gets discovered, then YOU are banned from using Royal Mail.

    And as for your "substantive" point, if you steal a DVD from HMV, then HMV has one less DVD. If you download a film, HMV still has the same number of DVDs. You haven't taken anything away from HMV apart from a *potential* sale. If I go to CeX or Cash Converters and buy a secondhand DVD, then HMV still loses out on a *potential* sale. If I borrow a DVD from a friend and watch it and give it back, HMV still loses out on a *potential* sale. If I wait until the movie comes out on TV, then HMV still loses a *potential* sale.

    So assuming I buy secondhand, borrow from a friend, or watch on TV, the film company gets none of my money. Those are all fine. If I download a film, the film company still gets none of my money, but this is classed as killing the film industry, and I am evil.

  • Comment number 27.

    Also @23...

    You have missed the point of a lot of the arguments here. It's not that people are justifying illegal file-sharing, they are simply pointing out the almost impossible task of identifying those that share files illegally.

    Before Mr M makes such sweeping statements, he should have researched the technical considerations in trying to police this ludicrous policy.

    As a lot of people have stated here, the entertainment industry are reeling from the big mistake they made in not embracing this technology when it first appeared. If they had grasped the potential of the internet in the first place, they could have been driving how it was used to distribute content rather than spending years apposing it.

  • Comment number 28.

    Pretty much as you'd expect from an executive which was happy to coach Phorm around the legislation.

    The socialists DO 'get' the crucial part of the Internet! The internet allows personal communication, freedom of expression and non-sanctioned pressure groups to form. Therefore the socialists MUST monitor and suppress the internet in case the sheeple wake up.

    Look at it an other way. Labour is raising taxes on the pretext of being 'green' to save the planet. "Raise taxes" are the keywords.

    Now they'll raise taxes on using the web, Big Content moguls don't go hungry. "Raise taxes" are the keywords.

  • Comment number 29.

    23. At 9:25pm on 25 Aug 2009, bazza001 wrote:
    By 'get' I take it you mean 'understand'. And you are a BBC journalist?! Don't try and be cool with hip phrases when you are old enough to be my father Mr. Jones.
    Now, as for the substantive point: If I went into HMV and was caught stealing a DVD or CD I would be prosecuted, and rightly so. How is internet file sharing any different? Answer: it isn't. And every single poster so far on here is hiding behind technical mumbo jumbo to try and justify their theft. Pathetic. It's high time the Govt clamped down on this practice and exposed it for what it is: criminal activity. Hats off to you Lord Mandy.


    Yeah rather than the criminal activity that takes place in the offices of the government to secure such laws.

    Or the frankly criminally obscene amounts of money people make from content already.

    Tehcnical mumbo jumbo or not the "ruling classes" just simply do not understand what they are dealing with and the [b]consumer[/b] is yet again being unfairly treated.

  • Comment number 30.

    This might be a red herring, and a blessing in disguise for microsoft, who have tried all but hiring the mafia to try and grab a much bigger chunk of the server market, currently overwhelmingly in favour of Linux. (Because it works.) And given that most Linux software is distributed (in the main) with torrents, MS are going to be pushing all their usual contacts very hard to "crack down" on excessive torrent activity, with the assumption they're "helping" the record industry, but in reality going after anyone else who currently stands in their way. (No surprise there, and a wealth of legally confirmed precedent)

    This isn't just about the desperate bleatings of the monolithic record industry, nor even the unelected minister for "Dubious Practises" helping them empty the caviar pot, and playfully adjusting the bikini straps, under the blazing Greek sun, but a far more worrying, and thoroughly more immoral (yes, really) corporate beast waiting in the gloom, poised to strike, and eradicate the last bastion of digital freedom, opensource software. If ISP's are forced to comply with this new Naughty File Sharer law, then it will be but a hair's breadth away from "suggesting" a monopolistic distribution model, in favour of a heavily licensed corporate beast, who will give generously to whichever cause suits them the most, including Corfu based Aquatic Entertainment Speculators.
    Should this come into being, expect torrents to made illegal, in favour of MSP2p, or a derivative of that "we'll happily sell you an expensive license" format protocol, that the performing primate Bulmer deems suitable.

    This may well be the moment freedom for internet users, legal and otherwise, dies, in favour of:

    "The Corfu Protocol"

    Sponsored by MS Caviar Industries, a recent addition to the new "Food for Political thought", group.

  • Comment number 31.

    There is a basic problem here. I keep reading that people file share because of the draconian systems like DRM and so on.

    Except that is simply not true.

    People file share because they want something for nothing - it is as simple as that. Not cheaper, not discounted, but for NOTHING.

    Back in the seventies, just about everyone I knew was file sharing - except it was on cassette. "Can you do me a tape of that?" This was one of the most common responses you heard when you played someone a new album.

    So, since it is based on a cultural thing that somehow people believe they have the right to steal someone's hard work, what is the solution?

    The ISPs, most people on here and just about every teenager out there complains every time the government or the music industry or someone else comes up with a plan.

    But I NEVER hear of them coming up with an alternative solution - apart from the normal "well, if CDs were not so expensive people would not do it." Which is patently complete rubbish.

    If I put up a fridge for sale and people think it is too much money, the vast majority would not steal it instead - they would go find a cheaper one or do without.

    So why, with copyrighted works, do they think it is okay to steal it?

  • Comment number 32.

    @#26 Johnny Pixels

    Awesome. Pick the bones outta that, guys. Tip o'hat, man.

    @#23, bazza001

    Still not geddin' it, son? Yo pappa in government or similar?

  • Comment number 33.

    J.J. Carter wrote:

    The socialists DO 'get' the crucial part of the Internet! The internet allows personal communication, freedom of expression and non-sanctioned pressure groups to form. Therefore the socialists MUST monitor and suppress the internet in case the sheeple wake up.


    Huh? The "Socialists"?

    Are you actually in the 21st century? Most of the control and lack of privacy on the internet is NOTHING to do with governments - Socialist or otherwise (and we haven't had a proper socialist government in the UK since just post war.)

    The people who really control the internet, who really want to tie up all the information are the massive private companies - and they tend to be run by good old entrepreneurial right wingers.

    If you want to see who really is holding all your information, just have a peak at your ISPs logs. They are the ones sitting on the other end of the bit of wire that connects you to your beloved free-for-all internet. They are the gatekeepers and I promise you, they are no bunch of good Samaritans - they are hard nosed business people with a lot of interest in you.

  • Comment number 34.

    31. At 11:31pm on 25 Aug 2009, Gurubear wrote:
    There is a basic problem here. I keep reading that people file share because of the draconian systems like DRM and so on.

    Except that is simply not true.

    People file share because they want something for nothing - it is as simple as that. Not cheaper, not discounted, but for NOTHING.

    Back in the seventies, just about everyone I knew was file sharing - except it was on cassette. "Can you do me a tape of that?" This was one of the most common responses you heard when you played someone a new album.

    So, since it is based on a cultural thing that somehow people believe they have the right to steal someone's hard work, what is the solution?

    The ISPs, most people on here and just about every teenager out there complains every time the government or the music industry or someone else comes up with a plan.

    But I NEVER hear of them coming up with an alternative solution - apart from the normal "well, if CDs were not so expensive people would not do it." Which is patently complete rubbish.

    If I put up a fridge for sale and people think it is too much money, the vast majority would not steal it instead - they would go find a cheaper one or do without.

    So why, with copyrighted works, do they think it is okay to steal it


    You're tarring everyone with the same brush there.

    What about persons like the guy above who wanted some Def Leppard? He'd have to wait 4 weeks if he relied on Amazon and that's assuming he could find what he was after on Amazon.

    Myself, I like music that is not necessarily classed as mainstream/popular and therefore not always available for download, and I don't support DRM measures used either. CD sources are even rarer sometimes as it's not current music and is often "out of print".

    What other choice than file sharing do people like myself have if we cannot find what we want when we want it?

    The industry has had long enough to adapt and start giving people what they want, instead they have carried on with the same business model they have had since the dawn of time.

    It's not always about getting something for nothing.

    It'a about availability and the consumer dictating how media is accessed, we pay for it after all, or at least we would do if it was available where and how we want it, so why should we be told how to access it?

    And while we're at it why shouldn't the price of a CD come down? We pay nearly 2x or more last time I looked at what the US pay for a CD and CDs themselves cost very little to manufacturer/burn/distribute.

    The media houses make excessive profits which do not go to the makers of the content.

    They are the ones killing the industry not filesharers. Some smaller artists in the case of music have even come out and said they support file sharing because it gets their music out there. Those are of course the ones with real talent that make money from gigs and merchandise at gigs, not the talentless bimbos like Britney Spears who nothing more than cows milked by the music industry to sell to the sheeple.

  • Comment number 35.

    I have to wonder, is Meddlesome in the market for a new pad?

    Could he be off to the US on Geffen money something akin to the Geoffrey Robinson affair?

    Or maybe Geffen wants citizenship, just like Srichand Hinduja did?

    Then we, the tax payer, did up his house to the tune of £3000 so that he could sell it for a tidy profit.

    Whitehall insiders have stated he was previously uninterested in the Digital Britain report. He holidays in Corfu with the co-founder of Dreamworks, then when he returns he puts the report top priority only with much tougher, almost draconian, punishments for filesharers?

    And this is all coincidence? Pull the other...

    The guy is unbelievable. I'm with #3 calmandhope, what does it take to get rid of this unelected reptile?

  • Comment number 36.

    @bazza001 - illegal file sharing (and all other copyright infringement not done for commercial gain) is NOT criminal activity. It is a civil offence akin to a breach of contract, the remedy is in private law and NOT criminal law. You would not accuse a builder who has not fulfilled a term of his contract a criminal (ok you might but you'd be wrong).

    If you are distributing copyrighted works for a profit then this can be a criminal offence - seeing as most content is distributed over p2p for free, it will never fall into this catagory. It is amazing how many people think - helped by the misleading spewing of the content industry - that file sharing is criminal!

    I also reject the argument that the UK economy is being harmed by file-sharing (I agree with the comment that the UK could actually gain). People may spend less on media but they do not just throw this money away - they go and spend it somewhere else - boosting other areas of the economy (other areas where the profits could go to UK based companies unlike most areas of the content industry).

    File sharing is here to stay, the cat is out the bag and it is not going to go back in! No amount of persecuting your customers will stop it, the content industry must adapt and grasp the opportunity that completely free distribution of your content brings. You use the free content as a carrot to pomote your scarcities e.g concerts, merchandise, special edition CDs/DVDs, etc

    Artists should be rewarded for their work but the market has changed - the old business model is [nearly] dead and it won't be coming back.

  • Comment number 37.

    A well informed post verly clearly outlining the days events, bravo.

    My main thought: Should the Royal Mail cut off service to a customers house if it emerges he might have been sent or ordered a CD that wasn't 100% legal?

    I see ISPs as providers who do not, and should not be expected to, look into what the customers are doing.

    The only reason someone's internet should be cut off is by a court order, subject to STRINGENT checks by a judge and not granted willy nilly

  • Comment number 38.

    All this earnest technical debate is completely missing the point. This is about politics, and the only interesting question (to Mandelson) is how many votes it is worth.
    I would guess that most illegal file-sharers don't bother to vote anyway (even if they are old enough to have a vote) and they certainly wouldn't vote Labour, so there is nothing to lose by annoying them. On the other hand, a lot of technologically illiterate Daily Mail readers will probably like it.
    Since it won't be implemented till after the next election, no politician is going to lose any sleep worrying about whether or not it is feasible. Once it has served its purpose at the ballot box, it can easily be kicked into the long grass.
    I'm not a cynic - just a realist.

  • Comment number 39.

    @38, WildGardener - That's half the problem. There are too many daily mail readers in this country who are easily led. That's how the Tories got voted in for so many terms.

    As for technologically illiterate, I don't see that as an issue, even the dumbest person can see the consumer is being taken for a ride when copyright laws are so restrictive and in favour of big business.

    It is just a shame we in the UK are so apathetic and vote on Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing, rather than proper issues.

  • Comment number 40.

    I like to think the majority of people understand that free distribution methods are fantastic. It's much more miraculous that hundreds of thousands of people can share a single file amongst themselves over a matter of days with very little effort.

    I really wish that each of the producers behind each piece of entertainment material would have a networked website (say through something like myspace) with a donation option, where people can donate money to the production as much as they want, as many times as they want, whenever they want. I bet they'd be surprised how many millions they would make globally as many depend on a liberated distribution method but dont want to be branded criminals.

    Of course colourful boxes and pretty disks could still be manufactured, sold & bought... toys, posters, lunchboxes.. actors and lawyers might have to take a pay cut and stop being such asses, the tabloids could cut down on massive character assassinations and less trees could be cut down.

    Sorry I digress;

    Long Live p2p! Long Live Bittorrent! Long Live ThePirateBay.
    Even bigger and better things are around the corner.
    But if all this gets stopped then we can easily go back to swapping disks by hand or through the post.

    Piracy is a really stupid name for it.

  • Comment number 41.


    In any event, why do you need to file-share any more. With streaming music websites, for example, it is possible simply to record the sound being produced using software like audacity. Then there is no download, but you have obtained the file effectively for free. I'm sure equivalent software exists to grab video released on the web.

  • Comment number 42.

    Johnny Pixels you are superb.

    For me it isn't about wanting something for nothing, it is about getting it at all (often without being ripped off I grant you).

    Until the entertainment industry realises that the Global economy created by the internet is a fairer, faster and more customer focussed one than the one they are trying to use, I'll entertain myself in a way that suits me.

    Why should I pay more to watch a film because I live in London? why should I pay more for a CD because I'm British - not American?

    Why can't I watch a film on DVD because it won't work on a British player - only an American one?

    Why can't I watch a football match on TV in Britain, but I can in Holland.

    One World, One Internet, One customer created solution.

  • Comment number 43.

    By 'get' I take it you mean 'understand'. And you are a BBC journalist?!


    Errr it wasnt him that said it, it was his 'source'

  • Comment number 44.

    All I have to say on this is you scratch my back and I will scratch yours...

    "what could’ve prompted this renewed aggressive anti-piracy stance from Mandelson? According to a report today, the Business Secretary’s intervention comes after he and David Geffen – the billionaire producer who co-founded the DreamWorks studio with Steven Spielberg – had dinner with members of the Rothschild banking dynasty at the family’s holiday villa on the Greek island of Corfu."

  • Comment number 45.


    I love your Royal Mail analogy. Everyone would be totally outraged if something like that were to happen. And really, it is no different from what's being proposed here.


    Excellent point. This really ought to be a civil matter. I can't understand why it seems to be merging into a criminal matter, and I find that deeply worrying. Does anyone with more legal knowledge than I have know what's going on here?


    You are both a cynic and a realist, sir. As cynics so often are.

  • Comment number 46.

    Well said and that is the problem, he's just going for political point scoring with a crowd of people who don't know any better.
    I'm certain that even Meddlesome knows that this plan of his won't work, he's just making it look, like once again Labour are being tough on a subject that gets a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons.

  • Comment number 47.

    There is a wider reaching problem than just illegal filesharing. It has been a long standing legal principle that ISP's are "common carriers" (the Royal Mail analogy is perfect here). That is, they can't be prosecuted for anything that their customers do on the internet. If they were, then all ISP's would instantly be liable every time someone accessed porn, terrorist material or anything that was illegal in one particular country. ISP's proved that it was technically, and ethically, disproportionatly difficult for them to see what all of their many millions of customers were doing and whether it was in breach of the national laws that they happened to be in. A very sensible legal precedent was therefore set that ISP's were merely conduit's of information, and could not be expected to police what their users were doing. The ramifications of forcing this proposal through will overturn this principle, leaving ISP's in the position that they will be liable for everything that their customers do (as lawyers will agrue if they can monitor filesharers they can monitor everything) and the old cases may even be reopened. This will lead to a very draconian internet where everything you do is being watched at all times, and you can be shut off on a whim because you happen to be doing something the government of the day doesn't approve of (first they came for the filesharers...?) I doubt the media monopolies have thought this through, they don't care as long as we've got money to buy their overpriced tat, and if you happen to want stuff that isn't available because they don't get good enough returns on, tough. Admittedly this is a worst case scenario, but you only have to look at China to see what happens when government takes control of the internet, and who's to say what special interest groups will be leaning on Mandleson in the future, once it's been proved you can monitor individual web use at all times

    As a side note, I read somewhere that the most downloaded programme on BitTorrent is Top Gear, and yet you can't even buy complete episodes on DVD. Coincidence?

  • Comment number 48.

    This whole issue is perpetrated by industries (music/video) that are blaming a paradigm shift (CD-->mp3, dvd-->internet/high capacity hard drives) for lost revenue that is, in reality, caused solely by their inability to keep up with technology. Obviously, if people prefer to listen to mp3 on their tiny, portable players, they're not really going to want to buy CDs and convert them if they can get mp3s easier and with less trouble. Likewise, it's more convenient to store hundreds of movies on a hard drive than to have shelves and shelves of DVDs (eg, we have 1.5 bookshelves of DVDs--cost for the shelves, about 80£. For the same price we could have a 1TB hard drive next to the TV that would take up a fraction of the space and be far more convenient). The media (CD/DVD) are now outdated. So, of course sales will drop. Until coin-op download boxes (you heard it here first) are common place, little will change. The industries have too much invested in the old paradigm and are trying to legislate away the tidal wave of technology so they don't have to face the future.

  • Comment number 49.

    File-sharing is here to stay, sooner they get that, sooner they can change their ways and make the most of it.

    The Internet has just increased the speed of borrowing :)

    I download music, if I don't like it, it gets deleted, if I do, then I will see the artist live sooner or later (hence supporting them), and then the next time they release a new album, I will probably pre-order it. No harm done. It actually gained them a new fan... through file-sharing!

  • Comment number 50.

    Has no-one here heard of 'stealing'? It's where you take something that belongs to another, who would see it to you for a price, but you take it for free.

    The BBC is always banging on about this. If I started a 'Licence Fee sharing website', where the public could share licence fees for free and never pay, do you think the BBC would be having a discussion on their website about how the BBC 'don't get the internet'? How does Rory Cellan-Jones put food on the table or afford to pay his mortgage? He creates content and gets paid money in return for doing so. The 'price' for his content is his salary. I don't think he'd do it for free do you? Neither do the BBC cause they take those who steal content for free (ie non-licence fee payers) to court.

    So why do some think that musicians, software developers, actors, film makers etc should all work for nowt? Just cause stealing is easily done over the internet? Does that make it 'right'?

  • Comment number 51.

    So, is this a story to take the focus away from the ludicrus 102.9ppl petrol cost or am I just being paranoid again?

    Anyway back on-topic, sorry!

    I just don't get it, on one hand, the Gvt want to CUT PEOPLE OFF the internet for sharing files, why are they on the other hand saying that the internet is a UTILITY almost as ESSENTIAL AS WATER? Wish they would make up their minds!

    Oh and there are a HUGE number of technical issues they need to PUBLICALLY ADDRESS to tell us how they're going to determine what is and is not illegal; for example and possibly the most important

    "How do they KNOW the content being shared can not legally be shared?"
    Let me guess, it's probably going to involve a massive government database somehow ...

    This country is a mess and there are far more important things the government should be looking at right now other than if someone shares a 30 year old ABBA song with someone else.

    I am sorry BBC and readers, my post probably comes across as quite blunt with a lot of anger - unfortunately, this is how I feel right now and I for one am SICK OF IT!!!

    I am sure as well that I am not alone.

  • Comment number 52.

    The content providers may well be concerned about their fall in revenue, but they appear to attribite this to piracy and little else. Their financial concerns aren't just caused by piracy however.
    No one seems to have made the point that nowadays there are just so many interesting things people can do with their lazy time and technology other than passively listen to music, or watch television and videos. Facebook for example is awash with free online games which can be played by members. My wife is obsessed with some of them and spends much of her spare time playing them. My 15 Y/O daughter watches (presumably) legal videos on YouTube. My son discusses gameplay issues arising in their(legally bought) Nintendo Wii software games. I argue about politics and censorship online. I own many CDs and still buy the odd one now and then. I confess that many of the tracks have been transferred onto my iPod for my own use only. Had this not been possible, then the later CDs simply wouldn't have been bought. But the point is, that we don't watch as many DVDs, listen to as much music, or watch as much television, simply because we are doing OTHER perfectly legal things with our time. Indeed the many televisions in our house now spend most of their time SWITCHED OFF, sometimes for DAYS on end! The media moguls need to recognise this, and compete for our time and money. But no way are we, as a family, sharing anything other than amongst ourselves.
    I have to add my voice to the expressed outrage of an unelected peer, going abroad and then returning to issue edicts the the country.
    Totally undemocratic and totally unacceptable.

  • Comment number 53.

    Culturally, the concept of paying for music has been around for less than 100 years, music before being a form of cultural pleasure & communication between people done purely for that pleasure.

    It's time as a paid commodity was the exception, rather than the rule, and the internet seems to have brought back this philosophy of music for pleasure, shared for no cost, on Myspace and Youtube for example. As an example, most recently I discovered Chameleon Circuit, a band who write songs purely about Doctor Who. Their music is distributed for free around the internet, and seems to be done purely for the pleasure of the listener.

    I'm not so sure about film and game piracy, due to the sheer level of investment these need to make back for the industry to remain viable (cocaine costs money people!), but culture and beauty are not commodities to be bought and sold so that executives can make a fast buck.

    I would like to add I am a musician and former employee of both an independent record store and HMV. And I still love my hard copies. Despite this making me a hypocrite.

  • Comment number 54.

    gotta love the film industry, after nearly 10 years of broadband in certain parts of the world they *still* won't offer streamed movies. Instead they're obsessed with pushing file sizes up by forcing Blu-Ray into the market, which lets be honest is little better than DVD, just so it'll put people off downloading that format or making re-encoding them more difficult.

    I'm a customer. I want movies on my computer, not on a million boxes with shiny DVD's in them. I don't want to have to rip the film from the DVD. I want them in a lean and efficient file format like avi/divx (700 - 1,400Mb). Do this and I will pay you £2-3 per film. Provide an option to download a version for my mobile/iPhone/Andriod device and you'll make a fortune from new and old films alike.

    Adjust to the market demands set by your customers, instead of encouraging your customers to bypass them.

  • Comment number 55.

    Surely the whole 'piracy' issue hitting the creative industry in the pocket is a blurred argument at best. I agree that a decrese in sales have occured with the growth in popularity of file sharing. However, would those same songs and films have been purchased if they were not shared? If someone downloads 50 albums in a year how many of those albums would have been bought in the first place had they not been available for free, 10% would be generous in my opinion. Personally I will download music through file sharing software as it offers me the chance to experience the music before deciding if I like it. If I did not have that option I would simply not be buying that artists CD anyway. I'm sure this is the same for 95% of downloaders. In the case of one recent downloaded album I have gone on to purchase tickets for that bands upcoming tour of the UK, something I would never have done without downloading that album for free.

    The creative industries appear to think that each downloaded track or album is a lost sale, in actual fact they are chasing a virtual market that does not exist in the 'hard copy' world. Surely money and time would be better spent working with the people that create these technologies to offer realisticaly priced and innovative solutions/alternatives to file sharing.

    If somone is cut off from their internet supply do the creative industries really expect that same person to then go out and pay for products by companies behind the bill that has just lost them their internet connection. Aren't they then even less likely to go out and purchase these items legally, preferring to find other means to get access to these products?

    File sharing has been around in one format or another for around 13/14 years now and will continue. The internet by it's own nature is an innovative creature, so new ways will be found to bypass whatever regulatory tape that is placed on it. Why not access that potential and create something new and exciting - you are supposed to be part of the 'creative' industry after all!

  • Comment number 56.


    Actually, I'm a musician who releases real records on real (albeit on very small) labels and I earn almost nothing from releasing my tracks. Many of my peers and friends on similar and bigger labels (bigger real labels like Mute/4AD etc - yes, I know Mute is owned by EMI but there are a few unknowns on there) also don't really earn much either, and the point is that none of us do it for the money. None of us are U2 (nor have any desire to be) and so we put food on the table and pay the rent by earning money for playing shows, selling merchandise and, in many cases, having real jobs and other sources of income. Having our music file-shared does help getting word around, and people who are really interested will always buy a nicely packaged physical copy. When (not if) physical media as we know it dies out, providing unheard/rare/extra material will encourage people to pay a small fee for files, if it's presented in an efficient, accessible way, as has been suggested in the many posts above. The problem is that the majors really aren't interested in trying anything different to what they've always done, which is essentially selling bits of plastic for £15.

    The industry is just clinging on to an outdated business model. Music isn't worth what it once was, so the major labels and film studios only have themselves to blame for over-valuing their products. I saw Pete Waterman on the BBC this morning, spinning the same old line about 'theft' - his products are the most worthless of all of them!

  • Comment number 57.

    Isn't it about time that the people in Whitehall sought advice from those who do "get" how the internet works? (Yes, bazza001, I am no journalist but I can use quotation marks to show that a word was used by someone else, it doesn't mean I agree with its usage...)

    The tragic way that our elected (and non-elected) UK leaders have handled the pace of development in technology is very sad indeed. How can it be that we still (even now, over a year on) have not heard whether or not a major UK internet service provider is going to face criminal charges for intercepting their customers' use of the internet? (Phorm/BT/Webwise saga)

    This issue, sadly underlines the problem. Again a lack of understanding. And again, it smacks of business getting too cosey with those with the power to frame what the public can or cannot do and what their rights are or are not.

    Top marks to the people who have pointed out the differences between criminal and civil issues (copyright is a civil matter unless you are making money out of infringing it, and only then it is potentially criminal) and well done to all those who have shown how it is so difficult to show who could be infringing copyright by filesharing (there are several in my home who use my connection)

    Got to say also, as a child I taped parts of the top 40 on Sundays from Radio 1, trying hard to start/stop and miss out the DJ talking over the music! Who never did that in there young lives? Who never borrowed a cassette or used "tape to tape" so they could share music with a friend or relative? I even sent one abroad to a pen pal so they could hear my musical favourites.

    The medium has changed making sharing easier. What has NOT changed enough (at the pace it needs to) is how the content industry makes their work available; how they sell it.

    Today I am not a file sharer, except of some free works which cannot be bought anywhere. I do download songs, but I choose them from a library and download only the ones I want from an album.

    The industry has changed. Today I get one music single for 79p on my phone; I'm sure they were £3 each on vinyl when I was a young man! The industry needs to do more to make music and films accessible, at speed, on demand, at low cost to the consumer. MASSES more people buying at low cost to the industry, more income, highly efficient ("The Long Tail" is a good read for anyone interested in the changes of business model)

    Instead of snuggling up to businesses, allowing them to do what they like regardless of morality, Mandy needs to push more for the consumers and ask what business is going to do to meet the challenges they presented with. Sure, don't stiffle progress, but challenge business to find a way.

    So many other industries have faced huge challenges in the past. This is just another and it's just that these content creators have not faced into this size of challenge before.

    Good article RCJ, excellent.

  • Comment number 58.

    To all of the people that claim infringing copyright is theft:

    Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968
    "A person is guilty of theft, if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it"

    Clearly it cannot be argued that making an infringing copy of art that belongs to another permanantly deprives the owner of it - they still have it do they not. All they have lost is a potential sale and clearly (as mentioned in a comment above) common sense will tell you that each download does not equate to a lost sale. It goes without saying that "Property" does not include a potential sale.

    To take an example from the movie industry's quality, well thought through advert that attempted to villify it's customers.
    "You wouldn't steal a handbag" - No, I wouldn't but if I had the technology that could make a an exact copy of the handbag and it's contents and would still leave the little old lady with her handbag and contents intact - I would.

  • Comment number 59.

    The Dark Lord of the Pith take rises again.
    Last year it was his meetings with the oligarch Oleg Deripaska leading to some dodgy things going down with his EU work, and now he meets with David Geffen and OH LOOK... He's suggesting new ISP rules that the EU rejected outright.

    When will Gordon get rid of Lord Mandelvort and start to actually represent the beliefs of the consumers?

    Vote Pirate!

  • Comment number 60.

    This is quite possibly the stupidest thing I've seen in a while. HOW would you enforce this???

    How long for: It gives the impression of being cut off for the rest of your life...that can't be serious, everyone would be cut off within their lifetime that way

    Who would be punished?
    Per household-> what if the person moves house? and what about other people living in the house?
    Per name? Just change the name on the account to that of someone else.

    How can it be enforced outside of the house?
    What about going to an internet cafe or library for internet?, or one of the many places that offer free wifi?

    What stops the government or indeed anyone from blindly accusing you of copyright infringement and cutting your internet off? There are no courts and evidence for court cases seems to be based on logs and IPs which can be easily forged.

    There is almost no way of being certain that the person you are accusing has actually infringed on copyright, especially when you factor in wifi.

    Accidental infringement?
    All it takes is clicking on a link and with modern high speed internet you could've downloaded and infringed copyright in under a second. Just clicking on a link to another website and loading it up you can infringe on it - youtube anyone? What's worse is that you don't know if you have done until you've actually downloaded the infringing material!

    There is no difference in data transfer between streaming something and saving it to your disk on the internet. I would be willing to bet 95% or more of the internet would be cut off from the internet if it was followed strictly....maybe that's the BPI's plan!

  • Comment number 61.

    Has no-one looked at the state of this country lately? Why does anyone think this govt (or the next one) has (or would have) any qualms about tarring us all with the same criminal brush in this instance, when we're already guilty until guilt is disproven in nearly every other one?

    Just a friendly reminder, considering the consumer-electronics success story of the last few years that is portable audio devices - technically, anyone who's bought a CD and then ripped it to stick on either their own PC, their own music player or their music-playing phone is already a pirate anyway as everything's licenced to you solely in the particular format you've bought it in. Unlike the US, we're not even allowed to make backup copies of music or movies (or software) we buy in this country. To convert from one format to another is illegal, just like home taping your own albums always was. (Note to self: Must check to see if this actually did kill music like they said it would.)

    I think we'd be far better served by a review of copyright law and how content is licenced than this, but that would mean the big media companies and the govt. doing something pro-active and possibly coming up with a conclusion that works better for, you know, those electorate people, rather than just finding some new oppressive way to remind the sheeple just who's in charge here. It's not us, and legislation's not written for us either.

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • Comment number 63.

    Ooer, that last comment could be misconstrued. I meant it strictly in reference to the title of this article, of course.

  • Comment number 64.

    I'd forgotten that little point about the mp3 players and what not.
    I know I've read an interview somewhere before where DC has mentioned whats on his so that means that he's more than likely a criminal, I wonder whether the dark lord has one as well.

  • Comment number 65.

    '"You wouldn't steal a handbag" - No, I wouldn't but if I had the technology that could make a an exact copy of the handbag and it's contents and would still leave the little old lady with her handbag and contents intact - I would.'

    I could never have put it better myself.
    Copy Right!

  • Comment number 66.

    Peter doesn't get the internet, but he just loves to hang with the rich and famous and do their beck and call; that it happens so often (Deripaska, Gaddafi's son just before Megrahi was released, David Geffen, the music mogul he lunched with the day before he came out with this rubbish)s merely underscores the fact that he is at the call of vested interest.

    And in that light, and in the light of the fact that he stated that the EU is "post democratic", and that a democratic vote to do whatever with the EU must NEVER be allowed, he is a very dangerous man - a danger to our country and a danger to what little democracy we have left here.

    It is clear that he was brought back - at the behest of the EU I suspect - to prop up Brown until after the Irish Referendum. That done, it doesn't matter to him if the Labour party disappears in a puff of dust, as we will be ruled from Brussels by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats. They will be the ruling elite, and as we have witnessed in past years, they will take away more of our freedom, and steal more of our money

    Dangerous times

  • Comment number 67.

    This reminds me of an article i read on techdirt. About registered taxi firms in a US city lobbying and successfully getting a free cab service kicked out only to start the same free service a short while after. This is what always happens when politicians get involved in tech related issues. 'A lot of them just dont get it'. Kick out the competition only to try and make money out of it themselves (or their friends) later.

    I dont know if i'm allowed to post a link but here is the story:

    Dont get me wrong, i'm not all for file sharing but if there is not better alternative what do you expect people to do. The better alternative at the moment is to share.

    I pay loads of money (gf and i £15) each time i go to the cinema and i get to watch the movie only once :( It take foreva for dvd's to come out and they cost about £15 at the very least when the makers decide they've made enough money from the cinemas. I'm on a 6 hr train journey to you want me to carry extra luggage i'm likely to leave on the train?I'd rather have it in a format that will work on my computer and will be small enough for my old rusty laptop.

    The movie industries should move with the changing tech they should learn from the chameleon.

  • Comment number 68.


    Your view on this is as outdated as Lord M's!!

    Take as an example, I am an artist. I make music but am not and have no interest in signing for a label to mass produce my songs. I still however want my music to be heard by the public. The best way for me to do this is by uploading my music on to a P2P site and allowing others to download and listen to it.

    If I am not signed by a label and have no copyright restrictions on my music then how are others downloading illegally?

    The point here is that not ALL content that is being downloaded has copyright and this is where it becomes almost impossible for the ISP's to police.

  • Comment number 69.

    We lost what democracy we had left when he was brought back yet again. Their is no way he would ever be elected again, not even if it was a vote among his own party. To elect him to the lords is an affront to what parliment is supposed to stand for.

  • Comment number 70.

    I don't see how downloading things from the internet is any different from anything else in life. For example the other week I fancied driving a Ferrari, but Ferrari wanted £100k for one! How much! Also it would have taken them a *year* to deliver it. Well I don't think it is worth £100k as I might not even like it once I've driven it and I don't want to wait for it to be delivered so I just stole one instead. The guy who I stole it from got a new one on insurance so we're all good. If Ferrari didn't charge so much for their products and made them quicker to deliver then I wouldn't have stolen one. Honest.

    Now can we all get back to muddying the waters by saying that as downloading isn't taking something physical it isn't theft? After all, it's a handy distraction that allows us to dodge the issue of us being common criminals who want things but don't want to pay for them and will download but not steal from a shop as we know we won't get caught. I know *I* wouldn't work for free, but I'm from the internet so I can expect everyone else to work for free.

  • Comment number 71.

    @-Aidy- I feel that you've somehow missed the point with your Ferrari post.

    If you were serious about a Ferrari, you'd test drive it to see if you liked it, provided you did, you'd then purchase it.

    By saying that the insurance payout would mean no-one would lose out if it was stolen is plain ignorance. You seem to forget that the insurance company would have to payout at substantially more than the premium collected and also the insured person would have an increase in their premiums for the next 5 years that they have to declare the claim. Both parties are in a worse position because you stole the car.

    It has been proven that people who download, also spend more money on media than most other folk.

    Also, one download does not, has not and never will equal one lost sale.

    And, you have to laugh, Hollywood had a record box office year in 2007, over 9 billion US, up 5.4% on the previous year, then 2008 proved to be another record year, up 2% again! Have a look:

    I saw The Dark Knight at the cinema twice at a cost of £18 each time for me and my girlfriend. I then purchased the Blu-ray at £20 3 times, once for myself, twice for presents at Christmas - so that's £96. But I still downloaded it when it was avaliable online 6 months before being released on media that could be purchased at HMV. This then allowed me to watch it on my portable media player, my laptop etc without DRM. If the product is good people will still spend money on it, others have stated this already.

    These measures proposed boil down to one thing, control and greed

  • Comment number 72.

    As I co-manage a small independent digital record label, as well as producing my own music, I'm able to see both sides of this argument. There's the common misconception that the anti-file sharing lobby is solely dedicated to ensuring that artists can afford seven hot-tubs at their respective mansions instead of six, and are just whining, and but for a tiny minority of artists, this bears no resemblance to reality. Since the influx of file-sharing, I'd estimate that potential earnings for us have been cut by around 98%.

    That said, what this has done, at least on the small, independent level, is create a wave of artists who do what they do solely for the pleasure of it, as profitability is no longer part of the equation. Accidental or not, that has been a positive outcome of the change. I personally never got into the music as a means to make money, I did it because I love the music, no other reason. File sharing is just the reality of the modern situation and pointing the finger of blame anywhere is as pointless as shaking your fist at the sky and blaming god.

    I completely understand why file-sharers do it, even though I don't. The story regarding availability of Def Leppard summed it up well. Music often suffers from "territory restrictions" (which I still don't understand the point of) and I detest the whole Region restrictions you get on DVDs. There's one American TV Series now on Season 3 that I'm still not able to buy because it hasn't been released in Europe and it infuriates me that I'd need to buy a new DVD player to watch it.

    File sharing will affect the film/TV/music/software industries hard, it's undeniable, but it's here to stay regardless. The only way forward for any of them is to adapt to the new situation and accept that they aren't the cash-cows they used to be. Perhaps, in the future, this will lead to an increase in overall quality as the artists re-assess their motivation and decide again to just do it for the love of it.

  • Comment number 73.

    Aidy you've missed the point, along with Mandleson.
    Most people will maybe download a couple of songs from an album, and then if they like it buy the album or see the band live, thus the artist gets more money. Obviously some people are going to abuse this but that is the same as in any walk of life. To stop shop lifters do you make all shops like the nighttime service stations where you wait outside and a attendent goes to get what you want?
    Mandlesons ideas to limit file sharing will fail on so many levels its almost a joke. You just need to look at the backlash from various ISPs to recognize that.

  • Comment number 74.

    Some things to consider which make these proposals utterly unworkable

    1. It is possible to spoof your IP address
    2. Many bittorrent downloads are legal (see
    3. Bittorrent is a protocol used in other applications than downloading
    4. Bittottent clients can encrypt the data
    5. Bittorrent clients can prevent known industry "spies" from accessing downloads.

    The battle, dear friends, has been lost before it even started. The genie is out of the bottle. The music and film industry needs to adapt their business model, or suffer.

  • Comment number 75.

    With regards to the UK music industry, there's no doubt that the industries reaction to filesharing has caused some serious damage. It seems these days record companies are unable and/or unwilling to look at long term investment in artists due to the need to keep nervous shareholders happy and recoup any artist investments asap. The result is an endless parade of one-hit wonder indie bands and reality TV tie in drivel.

    Take a look at a band like Radiohead. If they released their first album "Pablo Honey" today there's a good chance they would have never been given the chance to record a second album owing to the limited sales upon its initial release. Of course we all know what glorious work they released later in their career, only made possible by the faith shown in them by EMI at the time. In the last 5-10 years there have been very, very few bands given the opportunity (and budget) to mature. This is a real shame and the music scene in the UK has suffered immeasurably as a result.

    Sadly the big 6 record companies seemed to spend most of the 90's price fixing CD's and attempting to sell us content we already owned in a variety of new formats. As a great man once sang:

    "Re-issue ! Re-package ! Re-package !
    Re-evaluate the songs
    Double-pack with a photograph
    Extra Track (and a tacky badge)"

    Had they embraced the internet & downloading at the time they could now have a sustainable business model (a la iTunes) and be making handsome profits. EMI, BMG, Warners etc are all sitting on vast quantities of long deleted back catalogue that never made it to CD but could potentially make them millions with the right price point and web distribution model. Instead of innovating they chose to fight amongst themselves and blame their customers and gray imports for falling profits.

    The reason many people turn to filesharing is not because they are looking for something for free, but because what they want is not being made easily available at a fair price point by the copyright holders in a modern, price conscious & web connected world. If for example, i wanted to buy a Beatles album what are my options? Take a 2 hour round trip to my local HMV, pay for petrol, parking and then £15 for a CD or do i sit in my chair, visit a torrent site and have the album on my computer within minutes? If i could do this legally then I and I'm sure many others would happily pay a fair price for a convenient download, a fact proven by Radiohead's "pay what you want" scheme with the release of "In Rainbows".
    The torrent sites exist to fill a void which the record companies could have filled themselves had they had the foresight to do so in the mid 90's, before the whole concept of free music became so widespread.

    Its time for the music industry to stop pushing for legislation and fighting over the scraps of a dying business model. Instead they must learn to innovate & invest in their future if they wish to exist in 10 years time.

  • Comment number 76.

    Also am I the only one who in the picture of Mandleson at the top of the article, that thinks it looks like he's caught in the sight of a gun?

  • Comment number 77.

    76. At 5:18pm on 27 Aug 2009, calmandhope wrote:

    Also am I the only one who in the picture of Mandleson at the top of the article, that thinks it looks like he's caught in the sight of a gun?


    One can only hope.

  • Comment number 78.

    I recently bought all seven series of The West Wing for £50 on DVD. To watch this on my iPod legally i would have to buy a DRM crippled version from iTunes which are being sold for a whopping £19.99 per season, yes that's an additional £140!

    So please get your act together "rights holders" and stop ripping off consumers. If you buy a DVD or download a film, you should legally be able to play it on any device you own. iPod, TV, Microwave - I don't care, I paid for it - just let me watch it.

    It's fair enough to charge for an enhanced high quality/remastered version of a film (I bought Blade Runner again last year) but to ask people to pay twice for the exact same thing in a different format is morally wrong, and it's no wonder people don't care about "sealing" from these companies when they lack morality themselves.

    If these laws come into place, will Peter Mandelson create a law the protects consumers from being ripped off to balance it out? I doubt it. hence why I am an EX Labour supporter.

  • Comment number 79.

    Create a law that protects consumers from being ripped off? Dont be silly that would be the act of a government that actually cared about its citizens rights.

  • Comment number 80.

    From a news article published today on your website:

    "Big Champagne says Top Gear has been among the most pirated television programmes internationally.

    The series appears on BBC America some time after it is shown in the UK, and it appears that some American fans are eager to download it before it is available legally. "

    Isn't this what so many people have been saying. A lot of "piracy" is done because content distribution by the media companies just doesn't understand the modern world. Why is there a delay of maybe more than a day or two in TG being shown on BBC America?

    Content providers, be they the BBC, or Universal Studios, or Sony, need to realise that if they release a product in Country A and then don't release it in Country B for several weeks (or months) then it WILL get pirated. A few years ago I was in the states visiting my girlfriend and we bought Galaxy Quest on VHS and I bought it one day BEFORE the film even opened in the UK. There is no excuse for this sort of delay, the only reason for it is that the film companies try to maximise profit by keeping the number of prints down and so the UK gets prints that have already been dragged round the US, which explains why so often you go to see a "new" film and the print seems to be worn.

  • Comment number 81.

    Downloading newly released films, and music is clearly infringing on copyright law. However, after reading the recent Rory article about how there is increased torrent downloads of popular TV programs I wondered if in certain scenarios whether or not it would actually be 'illegal' to watch them via torrents.

    Consider a person in 'Country A' that pays for their annual TV subscription to the appropriate government agency allowing them to watch 'legally' all the channels (government owned or not) that are not funded by pay-per-view. Now let's say that their is a TV program produced in 'Country B' and is released there before it is released in 'Country A' but one of the broadcasters in 'Country A' has already negotiated the rights to show this program but for legal/timing reasons does not broadcast it immediately. If this program is available to a person who has paid their subscription to a broadcaster that has already bought the rights to the program, how can it be 'illegal' to watch the program through a torrent? The same goes for films that have already been broadcast on TV. What is the legal difference in recording a film from TV and re-watching it compared to downloading this film from a torrent, provided you have paid a broadcasting fee? Anyone who can help me understand this I would be grateful.

  • Comment number 82.

    @81: Taking your example to suggest that if the BBC owned the rights to a programme and you were downloading it in the UK, I can't see a problem, due to the unique way in which the BBC is funded.

    However, if the rights were owned by any other commercial broadcaster, including the BBC for overseas countries (BBC World carries adverts), then by torrenting the programme you'd be causing the broadcaster to lose potential income.

  • Comment number 83.

    Some people have been breaking copyright law via illegal downloading (probably through bittorrent)

    The affected media industries then turn to governments to sort the problem out for them.
    The proposed solution is to monitor all internet use to check that it doesn't infringe their copyrights.

    I don't give my consent for them to violate my privacy but they are going to try and do it anyway.
    I vote pirate party

  • Comment number 84.

    I wish someone would switch off Lord Mandelson's, I am sick of seeing and hearing from him.

    At the same time lets try this thing called democracy - we seem to want to inforce it on others but don't allow our own people the choice of leader! ;-)

    Who voted for these three darlings anyway!

  • Comment number 85.

    18.3 million households in the UK (70 per cent) had Internet access in 2009 (according to ONS)

    Give customers who want to download content the option of a high speed connection with the license to download and share content for an extra few quid a month. If 5m people sign up at an extra, say, £3 a month, then that's an income of £180m a year.

    File sharing is absolutely not going away. So either find ways of supporting it or turn 1/3 of the population into criminals.

  • Comment number 86. - these are the only guys who will fix these problems (and by "problems", I mean cutting off internet, censorship, and other assorted crap the entertainment industry pushes for) at a political level.

  • Comment number 87.

    The DRM protection is no longer usable. Crackers could breach it pretty fast. I know that those LA producers used to put their money into setting up copyrights stuff but useless.

    The file sharing has nothing to do with filmmakers or producers property. The media industrial should check their business before judge or talk about piracy. I don't vote for any side but if the 'Lord Mandelson' want to talk, our pirates also have rights too. This is a free world, don't see yourself as 'Lord', 'King' or 'Queen'.

  • Comment number 88.

    "We don't want to be seen as crowing,"

    What, why wouldn't they want to be seen as sitting on corpses picking out the good bits ?

  • Comment number 89.

    I don't read much talk about copyright and the simple premise of stealing someones copyright which is what most of P2P is. Probably a losing argument now as the basis of a copyright is something worth protecting seems to be lost. The days of people ripping a CD and sending tracks to friends is here to stay, the industry has adjusted. As broadband increases the same will happen with TV/Video/movies.

    The Music/Video industry is up against an assortment of people from business models relying on using copyrights to build traffic to eventually sell their business through to organized crime operating from who knows where.

    Can anyone on here defend this is not a licensed site by anyone. But it is supported by Google ads.......

    Can you imagine the conversation with the crime boss. "We just rip all this music build a legit site, use a hotmail email address, run google ads and make money.....where do I sign up"

    A suggestion. An independent copyright court that a copyright owner can appeal to have a site such as this blocked, with orders to all ISP's. That site is welcome to appeal but they have to prove that they are licensing their copyrights. And yes this would mean Pirate Bay is blocked in the UK until they can show licenses.

    I can hear the screaming now from the copyright thieves.

  • Comment number 90.

    "don't read much talk about copyright and the simple premise of stealing someones copyright which is what most of P2P is" -- we can tell.
    "I can hear the screaming now from the copyright thieves." -- No you can't.

    You mean every person who has downloaded Heroes has the copyright for it ? Wow !

    I *think* you mean "infringers" as opposed to thieves. If I steal your car, you no longer have it - I do. So by the same token, if I steal copyright on something, the original owner no longer has it(so how can you then be charged with copyright theft for something you have the copyright for?). Aside from being disingenuous and one of the music industry arguments, it's wrong.

  • Comment number 91.

    Why do people share content illegally?

    Electronic Arts - went to play online - your key has already been registered? - from a sealed boxed game?

    Went to take game back to get refund, but you opened it sir read our disclaimer sticker - if you open it's yours?

    Went back to EA, you will need to buy another copy sir?

    Bought a PC game last week Activision, "best online first person shooter" only to find out that I couldn't find any servers online.

    Guess what - the game is over 4 years old so Activision has closed down and discontinued the servers (while still selling the game as an online experience in the UK)

    Blue Ray - classic film 50 yrs old (but we want £25 for it) - yeah get your original DVD and re-encode it on a modern pc and it will play hi-definition and dolby 7.1, DTS all in under 1 hour.

    People pirate and fileshare, because media companies are lazy and exploitative money-grabbers who wouldn't know customer service or customer rights if it hit them in the head with a 4 x 2 plank.

    Everyone should get a Wi-Fi access point and offer part of the bandwidth as free.

    Then the IP providers would be scared to cut off all their customers.

    What's next will be that the Government licences Wi-FI hotspots under the guise of them being used to transmit Terrorist information.

    Our Government only wants us all to get broadband to ensure that their "message" gets into your house - propaganda Stalin style.

    Funny how file-sharers are law breakers and thieves, yet MP's who fraudulently pad and lie on their expense claims are "mistaken" when they steal Public funds.

    Malfeasance in Public office is the charge.

    Vote every one of them out at the next Election - time we had a total "Career Politician" clear out.

  • Comment number 92.

    @55 (welshman19821)
    "However, would those same songs and films have been purchased if they were not shared?"

    probably about an 80% chance of a "no" there.

    Reason being, many downloaders are your stereotypical "computer nerd" as it were, the kind of people who, for any number of reasons would not go to a shopping centre and casually browse HMV (or alternative store).
    The other 20% are people that purely wanted to try-before-you-buy... after all, there is no refund policy if you just "dont like" the cd/dvd in question, only if it is damaged and thats only a replacement

    @58 (Brownard)

    Thank you for that very clear and precise summary of the legal definition of theft. Hopefully it will reduce the amount of flaming between the "2 sides" of file-sharing arguements

    @61 (unclegiblets)
    "as everything's licenced to you solely in the particular format you've bought it in. Unlike the US, we're not even allowed to make backup copies of music or movies (or software) we buy in this country."

    I am a pirate by necessity then, I am terrible with CD's, as is my pet dog. I cant have a CD for more than a week without finding scratch marks or dogs tooth prints on it so to save myself a good few hundred pounds a month on replacement CDs i back it up on to hard drives.

  • Comment number 93.

    Another priacy illegal download debate.

    1. We all know that copying copyrighted material is breaking the copyright and therefore the law. Not everyone knows the full detials of it all but basically you can't copy or convert formats without being in breach. there are one or two loopholes in there to do with hardware etc but in short you can't copy or convert at all.

    2. The industry talks out its rear when it thinks it is losing *potential* sales. Its not as if every downloader would actually have gone out and purchased the *illegal* download they made.

    3. Recently the gaming industry acknowledged the fact that 24% of all games sold are actually 2nd hand and they are gutted that they get no money from those sales. They are infact trying to think of ways to reduce that number i.e. digital downloads.

    So, the content makers are actively trying there best to prevent normal people from selling on there old stuff which they bought legally. The gaming industry in this knows it can not prevent second sales and also knows that its all down to teh cost of the games in the first place, however they would like to stop 2nd sales as they actually think it will help them, there wrong it will just reduce teh life span of anything they every make, same with everything else in the content world.

    It would cost ISP vast amount sof money to police the net as Lord (who teh hell made him a Lord?) Mandleson wants. It would push the cost of teh net up and out of reach to those that probably will need it. It is no real benefit to ISP to police the net. The biggest hits to net speeds aren't illegal downloads its things like warcraft patches.

    As for *illegal* stuff keep downloading, keep sharing, if it was not for the sharing of ideas, knowledge, innovation, stories then evoloution would stop. The more you watch, listen, play the more you learn, the more you grow. if the internet *Nazi's* wish to stop that then the hard we should fight to prevent it.
    The content industries are doing just fine and create many many millionaires each year many of which will have and illlegal content somewhere on there Ipods, PC's etc.

    O if an album cost £1, a Movie £3 and a game £4, I would buy a lot more of them.


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