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Court orders UK ISPs to block more piracy sites (bbc.co.uk)
52 points by benev 1607 days ago | hide | past | web | 56 comments | favorite

The movie/music/tv industries need to learn from Steam.

I used to steal games all the time. New game came out? Steal it. Open up BitTorrent or an FTP client and start downloading, immediately. But then Steam came along. Now I buy all my games. I don't just buy games I want, I buy games I have stolen in the past. I buy new games. I buy games on sale. But the most important part? A new game comes out, and I think about buying it on Steam before I think about stealing it. Stealing doesn't cross my mind, because being a legitimate customer (which is what I want to be...) is just so easy.

Music is getting easier with products like Spotify, but what about quality freaks? Lots of people want FLAC, but don't buy CDs. When a real solution for this problem comes out, I'm sure people will flock too it.

TV? How does someone in Lithuania legitimately pay for HD American TV shows? He or she can't, but they can certainly steal it without any problems. It's not even hard. My grandma could do it. It's a similar problem with movies. Ridiculous release times (US only for two months, etc), difficult to get a 1080p mkv legitimately - but that's what people want.

Netflicks is certainly helping to solve this problem, but their catalogue is not extensive. It is not always up to date.

The only way to compete with piracy is to offer a better alternative.

Agree with you, except on the use of "steal".

You steal when the owner lose the original. What happens in BitTorrent/FTP is copy.

More about in copy is not theft video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4

There are really 2 types of piracy. Non-destructive and destructive. I believe the majority is non-destructive. People download things which they either do not have access to or do not value enough to pay for. If the option wasn't there to download it they wouldn't pay for it anyway.

Downloading content which you would otherwise pay for is destructive. It is like what the OP describes above. He was downloading things he would otherwise have paid for. Money wasn't going to game makers. He was effectively stealing and its damaging to people making the games.

Film / Music industry people think the majority of piracy is destructive. I think they are wrong. I have spent thousands of pounds on things I discovered through piracy. However, if you are downloading things you know you would otherwise buy then really it is difficult to deny you are not stealing or at least conning content owners out of money they are owed.

>People download things which they either do not have access to or do not value enough to pay for

Yes, THIS!

I think this is the crux of the entire argument that is completely ignored by nearly every content producer. People value things differently for a huge number of reasons. With things with a personal appeal like music, or maybe TV/Film but I imagine less so, some people will pay more for their favourite band, others won't. That means the band is undervaluing their product to their greatest fans (good for the fans) and over valuing for their lesser fans.

Normally, when I download things, it's because I don't value the product at the price it's being sold, but I do still value it! Film is a great example of this. I'll happily pay $5 to rent a great film like Django unchained, or Avatar, etc. But am I going to pay the same amount for the (boringly bad) Bourne Legacy? No. But I would still pay something to see it.. perhaps $1, maybe $2. But I can't because there is no option to do this. So instead, I would consider downloading it.

So what have the film company lost when I chose to pirate instead of purchase? Not $5 because I wouldn't have paid this in the first place. So they've lost $2. And what have I lost? I've had to spend some of my time hunting down and waiting for the film to download (A minor inconvenience) but that's it. So seems like the only loser is the film company.

For evidence, look at the most highly downloaded film of 2012 'Project X'. IMDB gives it a 6.6 rating and it sounds a bit lame but fun. Exactly the sort of film that isn't worth full price rental.

Or perhaps that's just how I see things..

"it is difficult to deny you are not stealing or at least conning content owners out of money they are owed."

I'll do my best... :)

Distribution used to be very valuable. So much so that we see CDs as products.

Before CDs, street performers were happy and paid if street patrons were happy and entertained. Simply put: creative businesses are charities; they always have been and they always will be because 1) their fruits are not material and can be "held"/understood by more than one person at a time, with impunity, and 2) they are non-essential, compared to food and water and shelter and clothes (and if they were essential, due to their non-exclusivity, it would be immoral to restrict them).

Somewhere along the line distribution got all wrapped up in cellophane and people working in publishing formats (cds, books, video game cartridges, etc, etc) started feeling entitled to creative monopolies. And authors', reasonably, wanted more of the distributor's pie. We went from truly prohibitive distribution (manual transcription), to commercial/industrial distribution, to today: instant and autonomous distribution -- if it is worth seeing, hearing, or knowing, the copying is implied. So, if you are charging for distribution today (including "selling copies"), you are in the wrong business.

But that hasn't destroyed/stolen anyone's value either, as you have proposed. We have simply come full circle.

The value of design is in its applications. The most useful ideas are the most valuable, as it should be. It's (obviously) not enough to simply produce a movie and sell the pattern for $5... One pattern is enough for the whole world. You can't recoup the production costs by pretending distribution is hard. It has to actually be worth $5. The reality of this return to the original model is that you will be rewarded according to your contribution, but you're not the one to set the price either because creativity isn't a product. We were just confused for about 100 years. Patronage is different (and scary to Western concepts of "mine"), but it's time-tested and perfectly sustainable (and being seen more and more, for example via Kickstarter). R&D, for example, is sponsored and would be worthwhile even (especially) without patents...

The requirement that creativity, design, and research, be worthwhile, is not a burden on society. Monopolies are. People can only reward you after they have benefited from an idea, namely from "the progress of Science and the useful arts."

Maybe not in a "he stole my bike" manner but certainly in a "we sell copies of this and he took one without paying" sense, which is really the point. I won't make assumptions about your position, but the argument you are making is a pedantic and irrelevant attempt to justify behavior that is clearly a violation of someone else's rights.

I'm not saying the current media cartels are right. Not at all. But people taking this approach only hurts more reasonable arguments that might actually be constructive.

>people taking this approach only hurts more reasonable arguments //

Theft is a crime. Copyright infringement is [usually] a tort.

Theft deprives an owner of their right to use their work. Copyright infringement is no detriment to an owner's ability to enjoy their work.

Theft forms part of what most people would consider to be an obvious moral obligation not to deprive others of their property. Copyright is a right that extends unnaturally from ownership, being a democratically granted monopoly, and I warrant is by no means central to the majority of the people's understanding of common law.

It is a very important distinction.

To equate theft and tortuous infringement is quite insidious, copyright infringement is by no means similar to common thievery.

The big players in media production have attempted to screw the populus out of their side of the copyright deal - the falling in to public ownership of works in good time. All legal changes in the last decade or two appear to have been to the benefit of the rich lobbyists representing media organisation and to the detriment of the public.

In view of this failure to keep with the spirit of the contract that copyright establishes it's not surprising that the public should act as if big media had nullified the contract.

To be fair, I think the industries have got a lot better in recent years. I stopped pirating music when it became easier to buy it on my smart phone than torrent it and copy it across to an MP3 player. I haven't pirated any TV shows since iplayer / 4OD came out in the UK, and I think movies have gotten a lot better, but I don't watch them much.

Yes, it's pretty slow change, but given the size of the companies involved, and the risks of moving to a new business model, I think we have to give them some credit for coming as far as they have, and they show no signs of stopping.

Independent music places like http://boomkat.com are good. I can have flacs downloading at high speed much quicker than I can find a torrent etc. these days. Once you've registered an account and they have your card details it's about 15 seconds from clicking buy to the zip downloading. It's still too many clicks, but it's good.

Of course, they only cover niche music.

itunes does lossess doesn't it? Is it not convenient enough for you? I've never used it, but I was under the impression it was a very smooth experience.

I just searched for a few of my favourite Metal bands and didn't find them on iTunes! :( A quick Google is telling me iTunes doesn't support buying lossless codecs.

One thing I have been trying to do recently is sending messages to bands I like asking to buy a CD from them that is signed. I get to show my support for a band I really like, and I also get something more than just the CD.

As for TV, I have a TV license in England which allows me to stream TV and 4OD is pretty good. I tried NetFlicks but I was unimpressed by the selection available. The problem is that streaming real HD movies/TV is not particularly easy, and no service I have come across lets me download them. I could rent BluRay's from a place like LoveFilm, but I don't have a BluRay player...

I would willingly pay £30-40 a month for a legitimate service that lets me download full movies/tv shows in 1080p .mkv format and keep them to watch again at another time.

edit: I'd like to point out I want REAL HD. iTunes/Android/YouTube/etc offer horribly compressed 720p videos with lossy audio. <--- Quality freak here.

There's your startup idea then. A high quality independent retailer for underground rock music. Boomkat for guitars.

Two problems:

1) Rock music is much more controlled by the big four labels. I checked the latest album from Lamb of God, the most fucked up metal band I could remember off the top of my head: they're on sony. On the other hand, Sunn O))) are on an independent label and they're pretty well known. Maybe lamb of god are more mainstream than I remember.

2) Rock music lacks electronic music's mainly nerd-based audience. While there are undoubtedly a lot of nerds in the metal scene, they lack the raver's inherent kinship with machines. Also, there isn't the same DJ culture, which is perhaps the most common reason why buyers of electronic music demand quality.

I think #2 is the biggest issue. I'm not sure how the metal community would react to a "beatport for metal".

Regarding #1, that's definitely an issue but there are still some pretty large subsections of metal on "non-mainstream" labels, esp. folk metal, black metal, etc. The sort of bands you'll see at Wacken Open Air.

Metal used to be a much bigger thing, it's died down in recent years, but still has devout fanbase. I'm sure there is a market, but I'm not quite sure how big it is...

And Lamb of God are awesome too! \m/ Saw them live in London. :D

> As for TV, I have a TV license in England which allows me to stream TV and 4OD is pretty good.

The licence lets you watch tv as it's broadcast. You don't need a licence for catch-up style services.

I'm pretty sure you need a licence to watch BBC iPlayer. 4OD perhaps not, but 4OD is covered in adverts.

edit: > http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/help/playing_tv_progs/...

I stand corrected! :)

The GP is correct, you only need a licence for watching TV live. I have had the TV licence people round my house and I explained to them that I watch TV exclusively via the internet and never live. There was no problem with this, I've not heard from them since.


Someone who hasn't had a TV licence for years

If you watch iPlayer "live" you do.

Why they don't have an "enter your license number" facility that then drops all programmes that you're not allowed to see, or indeed a paywall, I don't know.

I was speaking to a friends dad at his last Christmas party. He was talking about downloading movies. I asked if he used a proxy. He said. "Of course I do. I use blah." He then told me how he checked to make sure it was working.. I was genuinely surprised that a casual internet user knew about proxies.

As always such domain bans are ridiculous and do not solve the issue of why people choose to pirate stuff. I now use Spotify. I used to pirate music, downloading thousands of albums. Most were deleted after one play. I brought albums, merchandise and saw live bands that I liked. Bands I would never have discovered without "pirating" the music to begin with.

The article talk's about how piracy is dropping and Spotify use is raising. This isn't to do with TPB being blocked. This is to do with people realizing that music discovery is easier with Spotify than it is via piracy. This is the way it should be.

I am sure less TV shows are being pirated due to the rise of catch up and streaming services. I only download TV shows and the only reason for this is the delay in availability in my country. I don't download movies any more because there is already an abundance of stuff to watch - be it new or old - on streaming services like Netflix. I recently discovered the TV show Jericho. Check it out. It was brilliant.

If anything these ban's are endangering users making them more vulnerable to viruses, keyloggers and becoming a part of a bot net. If someone wants something THEY WILL DOWNLOAD IT. Sites like TPB have great community moderation. Dodgy downloads are flagged. Good ones are up voted. I don't remember the last time I got a bad download.

Compare this to the less known sites which people are being pushed towards. More bad links, less community moderation, bad site owners pushing dodgy downloads. A lot of people who are not expert computer users are becoming more vulnerable.

All this is because the music / film lobbies have convinced the UK Government that Piracy is destroying their revenues. Its not. The Internet combined with the glacial speed in which these industries are moving is. Better content, easier access and fair pricing will crush piracy. Blocking domains moves piracy to another source.

Music streaming services have done more to stop piracy than anything else. If music / film industry spent less on lobbyists and court actions and more on innovating access to their products they would see a far bigger turnaround in profits.

When TPB was banned I said it would kick a ball rolling that wouldn't stop. Here we go. I wonder what is next.

A friend's mother is fairly non technical to the point that she gets into a state every time her web-mail provider changes the page layout. However, she uses a VPN to get round geographical restrictions on video streaming services.

I think we're reaching the point where ordinary people are starting to understand how the internet works, and how to make it work for them. That's a good thing.

In my case, even if I can access Netflix, etc, many people here don't know English well enough to be able to watch a movie.

Local volunteers offer free subtitles, done in their own time, but they're only synced to "pirated" copies.

>If anything these ban's are endangering users making them more vulnerable to viruses, keyloggers and becoming a part of a bot net.

And hence reluctant to pirate if a legitimate option is available.

The reason a lot of people pirate stuff is because they lack a legitimate option?

Take Game of Thrones. You cannot afford or justify the cost of the TV package. You enjoy the show. Your friends always talk about it the day after it is aired in your country... There is a pressure to watch it and no easy way to do so. Hence piracy.

My cousin was desperate to watch a football match. She went into the darkest parts of the Internet and the end result was taking her computer to a repair shop because the things she had installed basically rendered her computer inoperable. Will she stop pirating? Probably not. She can probably better identify files likely to damage her computer.

The worrying thing is a lot of spyware and keyloggers etc are transparent. Even malware. You notice a toolbar appears but a lot of people do not care and continue to use their computer..

Someone may become reluctant if they become aware that their computer has been successfully infected by a virus. A lot of things now are far more sinister though. They do not want to be noticed or discovered so there is no lesson to learn until someone empties your bank account. Even when this happens it isn't obvious your computer was the source of the breach. It could have been phishing etc.

Piracy is widespread and the police do not even treat it as a misdemeanor. Socially, piracy is completely acceptable. Smoking has become more socially unacceptable... and yet these court judgements make the public more at risk from identity theft, fraud etc etc.. without making piracy any less rife.

>The reason a lot of people pirate stuff is because they lack a legitimate option?

Yes. If your time has little value, i.e. you live with your parents and are unemployed, then sure it makes sense to monkey around. The rest of your argument makes me not want to deal with piracy.

You're assuming non-technical users are aware of this or care.

I have seen non-technical users, who for one reason or other do not have access to Bittorrent, install streaming software or pass between them TV streaming sites for the latest episodes so stuffed full of heavy scripting, including XSS, that any hacker would be petrified of touching them even with a condom-clad bargepole!

When informed of their vulnerability, they often find reasons to dismiss the risk such as stating they have never had any problems or it is not their PC (family or school computer)...

The slippery slope has started.

This is why it's so important to fight with everything you have over the tiny scraps of civil liberties you enjoy. Once a bite is taken, the whole cake inevitably follows.

The slippery slope started when they installed these blocks "for child porn only!" way back when. They even said, specifically, that no other content would ever be blocked.

Since then they added "violent [adult] porn," "illegal 'terrorist' sites," and now they've started doing pirate-related content.

So the slippery slope started a long time ago. We are half way down it and it is only getting steeper.

Australians don't have to worry. Our filter is child porn only. It'll never be used for anything else.

Child porn and morally offensive websites. Just those two. We swear.

Aren't these blocks very different to the blocks of sites dealing in images of child sexual abuse?

This was a private case between industry and a few ISPs. The IWF blocklist is strictly about images of child sexual abuse (hosted world-wide), images of criminally obscene content (hosted in UK) and non-photographic images of child sexual abuse. The block is a temporary block until illegal content is removed.


The blocking technology (cleanfeed) was installed by most ISPs for the IWF blocking, once it was installed the industry took the ISPs to court to use it for blocking other things.

It seems to be a deep-seated cultural phenomenon

http://youtu.be/vt0Y39eMvpI?t=47s (Monty Python)

Right, and the police should not have the right to pull you over for speeding. Only someone with a massive sense of self-entitlement could call the West's civil liberties scraps. We could have total freedom (anarchy) but I don't think you would like it.

Everyone in the UK already knows how to use the thousands of proxies out there to access TPB. This will simply force the operators of the current proxy aggregators eg. http://ukbay.org/ to start aggregating proxies for these other sites as well. This will actually make finding pirated content easier.

But as we all know, the purpose of these laws isn't to stop piracy.

http://proxybay.info/ is a good one.

>the purpose of these laws isn't to stop piracy //

Assuming you mean the purpose is not to stop copyright infringement, then what do you consider the purpose to be?

>However, a recent report from market research firm NPD suggested that there had been a large reduction in the number of users illegally downloading music, with fans instead favouring legal options like streaming site Spotify.

The implication that this block is what is resulting in an uptake in services like spotify is so disingenuous it's not even funny.

Makes total sense; Spotify launches in 2006 and has had increasing revenue and user base year over year since, UK Courts block TPB in 2012. Clear cause and effect, plus time travel.

Exactly what happened in Denmark is about to happen here.


Time to move to Andrews and Arnold if you are in the UK:


They have an explicit no censorship policy:


Not only that, they offer IPv6 and their connection isn't a total piece of shit! Rather glad I moved from O2 (Telefonica) who apply the censorship and horrible traffic shaping even though they say they didn't on my contract.

It sounds like this is all happening in response to a High Court order.

An ISP that doesn't obey High Court orders isn't going to be an ISP for very long, so while switching like this might seem attractive, it's probably more about staying with the little guy under the radar than any real guarantee of anything.

Its a high court order for a bunch of specific very popular ISPs. By nature, a court order can only be applied to corporate entities (people, companies). They would have to enumerate every possible computer connectivity provider to be effective or introduce a law to stop it. Andrews and Arnold are very small and of no interest (for now).

This is basically the legal system sucking off a corporation and shutting down a common body of offenders.

thanks for the suggestion, but using their online calculator it looks like they'd charge me £300+ / month for something I currently get for £~20

Look at their Home::1 package.

It's really sad to see phonographic industry fighting piracy that way. There is a million of proxy sites which make Pirate Bay available in UK anyway...

The only way to deal with piracy is enable users to have access to they content they want in any possible way at affordable prices!

I used to download a lot of music, but since spotify offered Premium service for just 4 pounds a month in Poland I bought it instantly (I have Polish CC).

If Netflix had good XBMC app I would gladly pay for that as well.

The only thing this article did was let me know the names of some torrent sites I didn't know about yet. Thanks for sharing the love, BBC.

If you'd like to support the fight against this kind of stupidity, please consider supporting the Open Rights Group. It's the UK equivalent of the EFF and they do great work.


Correction - UK _Court_ requires ISPs to block more filesharing website. This is about the UK courts, not the ISPs.

Actually, as this was an English court, I wonder if this has any effect in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

I don't believe there's any legally Scottish or Welsh ISPs that are large enough to fall into the ban's scope (over 500k residential customers?).

The six ISPs that are currently forced to block these sites are BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk.

The torrent user experience is poor. You interact with tacky, ad-rich sites to download files that you have to open up in often buggy desktop client software before receiving a product of highly variable quality.

Contrast this with private trackers, which often offer:

    1) Extremely high quality files.
    2) Extremely well curated.
Having used Spotify for the last year, I find the experience vastly inferior to when I used private torrent sites. Of course, I get to massage my conscience with the knowledge that I am paying real money. More and more though, I'm sceptical of how much of my money content producers ever see. I'm starting to feel the same distaste for Spotify as I do the traditional media distribution companies. More, I've lost that sense of building my own library of music.

Can it be so hard?

    1) Low cost. Low middleman fees.
    2) High quality product.
    3) Absolute ownership of what I buy.
    4) Good UX.
Once this is done, there'll be no need to lobby for breaking the internet.

Good. Let's see what new technology this creates.

It goes without saying, but: we can't wait and hope. Open your editor and start predicting the future by inventing it...

Some ideas: work on retroshare, or cjdns, or yacy, or a bittorrent-like rootfs for linux to pivot to after pxe-booting like a network virus, or anything else that will help seal the doors of history and shut out this dark age of artificial-scarcity digital-protectionism and the information-luddites bent on making copying harder (zomfg!).

I'm not sure, and I'm not sure how we could know for sure, but I think it's already prompted the creation of the largest ever DHT. Which peer-to-peer file sharing aside I think is really pretty cool. Along the same lines of cool as BitCoin being the largest ever distributed computing project.

None. If fact the TPB ban work-around rely on old technology, a proxy, or a VPN.

Ok. I really didn't care that the piratebay got blocked except for the legal precedent that created but as expected here comes the banning of every site remotely considered as "bad" by any corporate party. We will all be old and gray talking about this magical thing called the internet where everybody was free to do whatever they wanted but young children would be looking at us like we're crazy because the never experienced it. It's all down hill from here folks.

I'm curious about which ISPs they're targeting, and whether that'll mean more business for the other ISPs.

A small number of file-sharing users can take a lot of bandwidth which wouldn't be a problem if the plans were priced realistically, but plans are priced for lowest-common-denominator use while being described and sold as premium product.

Sky, BT, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/feb/28/online-piracy-is...

There are already proxies for these sites, as many Italians would tell you...

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