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£30 annual 'tax' for unlimited music downloads in biggest attack yet on internet pira


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Moves to revolutionise music downloading were unveiled today, including a plan for an annual fee for the right to copy unlimited tracks from the internet.



Chris Martin of Coldplay, one of the major acts whose music is regularly downloaded illegally




But parents of teenagers who illegally download music face being blacklisted and having their internet service curbed.


Households that ignore warnings could be subjected to online surveillance and have their internet speeds cut to make downloading large files more difficult.


Some 6.5million UK computer users download files illegally and the practice is expected to cost the music industry up to £1billion in lost CD sales over the next five years.


The new move is part of a major drive to clamp down on illegal downloading of music and films, uniting Britain's six biggest internet service providers (ISPs) and backed by the Government.


The fightback against online piracy will begin with letters from the ISPs to hundreds of thousands of the most prolific downloaders to inform them that their activity has been detected and is being monitored.


Parents of minors who illegally download music such as Coldplay's new Viva La Vida album will be sent letters telling them what their children have been doing.


It means many parents face discovering for the first time that their children have been using bedroom computers and laptops to become internet pirates.


All six big ISPs - BT, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse - were today announcing they have signed up to send out 'informative letters' to those customers identified as illegal file sharers by the British Phonographic Industry.


In return for cooperation from the ISPs, the Government has backed off from a tough proposal to disconnect broadband services for users caught out three times.


Such a 'three strikes and you're out' plan will be introduced next month in France.


At the same time as monitoring and punishing those who download illegally - outlawed under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 - the industry is looking at making it easier to buy music online legally.



Illegal download: Music pirates have targeted Coldplay's new album Viva La Vida



Culture Secretary Andy Burnham is backing calls from some sectors of the music industry for a levy of up to £30 on internet users who want to download music.


The money raised by the levy would be channelled back to the copyright owners.


Fergal Sharkey, the former Undertones singer who is now chief executive of British Music Rights, the body that represents musicians, told the Times: 'This is something of a step into the unknown for the internet providers, music industries and ministers.


'But we can't go on without it - no business can survive after losing as much revenue as the music industry has.'


Mr Sharkey told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme the agreement was a 'first step' and the details would now have to be worked out.


'Personally, I could envisage at one end of the scale, for nothing more than a couple of pounds a month, being allowed to download X amount of tracks, and possibly at the other end of the scale for a slightly larger sum of money there is the entire catalogue of the music industry and you can have of it as much as you want as frequently as you want, and any number of variations in between,' he said.


ISPs and film and music companies are expected to develop a new code of practice together on how they will deal with infringements, and the Government will then look at their proposals and consider how they can be backed up by new laws.


Downloading music and films has become one of the fastest-growing areas of the entertainment industry - despite concerns about piracy - as internet speeds have increased over the past decade.


In September 2004 the first official download chart, based on legal downloads, was unveiled, with Westlife's Flying Without Wings at number one.


Tracks legally downloaded outsold physical singles for the first time on the final week of that year.


The following year there were 26 million legal single-track downloads - a fourfold increase on 2004.


In January 2006, legal downloads overtook illegal file sharing in the UK for the first time, with five per cent of internet users regularly downloading music from legal sites, compared with four per cent who swap files illegally.


But paid downloads made up just nine per cent of respondents' digital music collections while 'free' downloads constituted 27 per cent, according to research group the Leading Question.


Last year nearly 78 million singles and more than six million albums were legally downloaded.



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The ISP's are shooting themselves in the foot in trying to make the record labels money they will end up losing money as people move away onto other ISPs


Besides without breaking privacy laws, how can the ISP tell what I'm downloading, be it illegal music like the latest coldplay album or be it legal downloads from iTunes or music files which are out of copyright?


Same with telly shows, how can they tell when a large amount of traffic is generated by sharing of 'illegal' films/tv shows against legal stuff (out-of-copyright films etc)?

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What theyve said is that they will (firstly) target the heavy downloaders (imo of legal or illegal files) with general warning letters to "pack it in" , if it carried on then they would monitor what they are downloading . (I`ll pause here to say for those unaware , ISPs dont want heavy downloaders of anything , it costs them money , as they pay BT for bandwidth/data shifted) , their angle would be reducing their costs .


.... from that point they can determine from the streams as to whether its music or video by data analysis and if they wanted , then read the headers of your data packets and find out exactly from where , they can determine straightaway from the protocols used as to whether its Limewire etc or Bittorrent , the very trackers that are used for Bittorrent will also give your IP Address out to anyone who joins the torrent . If you were looking at using a program to automate checking if a torrent was legal or illegal , just give the program the IP adresses of trackers that used by pirate sites to flag up certain users on the basis that its likely/quite likely its illegal and then to manually assess whats being downloaded (thats more an idea/concept of devils advocacy) . Playing the devils advocate again , I would say that the record companies will datamine torrents and automate the handing of this data to the ISPs to take further action .


To answer the above posts point , no one knows at the moment as to whether it will be driven by the record companies giving data or the ISPs being proactively looking for naughty people (my above opinion shows what I think on it) , if the companies are driving it and you are only sharing legal files or watching the iPlayer all the time - the protocols will tell them the latter , and analysing the data will check out the former point . Of course , as you mention , data protection is a `hurdle` here .


You can read between the lines if you wish on how to avoid a letter from the above points . The above is to inform thats all , Im not here to argue any point of view , just give the technical facts , other peoples business is their own concern imo .

If anyone has ever used packet sniffers on their own data going into/out of their pc , you`ll know it has a lot of info in it as well as the ISPs currently holding the data on every single webpage you have visited and your ip adresses for a year as I recall (uk) .



This appears to be the framwork of the meetings held to make the headlines -> http://www.isp-content-regulation.com/conference.agenda.asp

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But if they analyse the data it's a breach of privacy laws (unless they have a search warrent from the cops, but because piracy on the most is a civil offence, the police's powers are somewhat limited).


But what about me and my sharing of rare and hard-to-find music files which are old enough to fall out of copyright laws in my country (the good-old 50 years rule) :P

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All the letters will do is push file-sharing underground (again), with heavy encryption (256 Bit +) (so that the music companies will see something is being shared, but without the solid proof at what's enclosed in that encrypted file they can't sue anybody because it could turn out it's some music files by a new artist who has chosen to throw the rule book away :P


Failing that, it will push the file-sharers to public networks

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All the letters will do is push file-sharing underground (again), with heavy encryption (256 Bit +) (so that the music companies will see something is being shared, but without the solid proof at what's enclosed in that encrypted file they can't sue anybody because it could turn out it's some music files by a new artist who has chosen to throw the rule book away :P


Failing that, it will push the file-sharers to public networks


What do you mean by public networks, and how would that make a difference?

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My post was to point out that technically they can see whatever you are doing , the legal issues are another thing entirely , but as I said I cant see the ISPs proactively looking for it , at the moment the record companies go to court with IP addresses to get names and addresses , if the new scenario just makes the ISP write the letter straight to the person cutting out the court , this way the ISP doesnt break any privacy laws , your IP address is freely available to the record companies the second you download torrents .


If you say put yourself in their shoes to work out a strategy to cut down filesharing - just go for the easiest and biggest target - pick on the ones who arent tech savvy , it`ll end up with letters on the doormat .


I would say the vast majority of people who use Bittorrent think that they are invisible on it - "the bloke down the pub told me to install this , go to this site and then start downloading scenario , theyll never catch you" and I would say imo that is the mass of people they are after to stop .


Yup filesharing will carry on back underground in whatever form it goes to , be it private trackers , back to the newsgroups (a lot of the isps have the binaries groups banned) or the various programs around that allow encrypted vpns over the net and other methods already available of course .

Public networks wont work for dloading on BT etc , as most of these will have already have those ports blocked ie they block all ports and only open specific ones like the ones for email , http etc , some wont , but after the firt letter you can bet they will have tied them down tighter than a ducks arse .


Please dont think Im pro-record company , Im not , I just go about things to tell the whole truth , even if it makes uncomfortable reading , the final paragraph above says it all really , filesharing wont stop , it might even go back to the real old days of putting discs in the post (wtf is a letterbox ? lol) .

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