CONTRACT/COPYRIGHT
Internet

Hot on the heels of Virgin promising to contact customers who illegally download films, TV programmes and sound recordings, record label trade body the BPI has confirmed that BT is sending warning letters to customers of its internet service provider packages who the labels believe are acquiring music from illegal sources, telling said customers that uploading or downloading tracks to or from such sources is illegal. It was reported on IT website. Confirming they were now working with both BT and Virgin Media on the warning letter programme, the boss of the BPI, Geoff Taylor, said on Friday: “Establishing partnerships with ISPs is the No 1 issue for the BPI, and we are beginning to form positive working relationships with BT, Virgin Media and most of the other major ISPs”. ISPs had been resistant to taking on a more proactive role, and some still are, but with BT and Virgin Media on board more are now expected to follow. The labels want the ISPs to ultimately cut off persistent copyright infringers. Whether the ISP would do that, or even hand over the contact information of the individual (customer) to allow the labels to take legal action, remains to be seen.

The IPKat adds this sensible comment (in the context of one student warned of downloading an Amy Winehouse track who was furious to be associated with the artist!): “Unless the IPKat is very much mistaken, the allegations relating to file sharing are at the moment all about section 20(2) of the CDPA, which makes “the making available to the public of the work by electronic transmission in such a way that members of the public may access it from a place and at a time individually chosen by them” an infringing act. This is important because downloading itself, which everyone seems to be talking about, is not in itself an infringing act (although one could argue that the copy thereby created on your computer would be infringing). The act that the BPI are relying on is instead is that of making files available for others to download, which they can check by seeing which IP address is hosting which files. The IPKat finds it hard to imagine how a user can not realise that their computer is set up for doing this, as it has to be done deliberately, and can only agree with the approach so far taken by Virgin and the BPI. This is, after all, a far cry from the heavy-handed approach taken by the US RIAA, which has resulted in some very bad press over the last few years.

CMU Daily 30 June 2008 www.cmumusicnetwork.co.uk

http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2008/07/virginbpi-letters-arrive-student.html

Update: (see news 24/07/08): Six of the UK’s biggest net providers have agreed a plan with the music industry to tackle online music piracy. The deal, negotiated by the government, will see hundreds of thousands of letters sent to net users suspected of illegally sharing music. BTVirgin, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse have all signed up to a new Memorandum of Understanding brokered by the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR). But major record labels, represented by the British PhonographicIndustry, would like to go further and have people’s internet cut off if they ignore repeated warnings, something the web firms say they are not prepared to do. In France, PresidentSarkozy has introduced a ‘three strikes and you are out’ scheme (where after warnings the infringing user’s subscription is terminated) which the BPI hoped the UK government would follow.http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7522334.stm

Update 2: As we ‘went to press’ (a quaint term as actually it is Luke uploading everything without any ink or paper in sight!) this story got bigger and bigger. A humdinger of a backlash began mostly mocking the BPI : Here’s some additional comment:

CMU Daily reports that Billy Bragg has dismissed that announcement that six ISPs are to begin sending warning letters to customers thought to be partaking in illegal file-sharing as “nothing more than a gesture”. Writing on the Guardian website he said: “New technology has made it possible for people to acquire music without going through the traditional route of buying objects in a shop. Rather than fighting this trend, the industry itself needs to find new methods of collecting royalties. What needs to happen is for the industry to reverse its priorities, put artists to the fore and pay them a larger share of the price in return for their support in the transition to new business models”. He uses the UK radio system as an example of possible new ways to earn money from music, both through ad-funding and licence fees. He concludes: “In an ideal world, such royalties or the blanket licence fee would not be paid to music companies themselves but to an independent collection agency that would pay the money directly to artists. The music industry treats the internet as a threat, whereas for artists it gives us an opportunity to get closer to our audience than ever before. We must be very, very careful that we don’t alienate those fans and make it impossible for the next generation of singer-songwriters to have viable careers”.

The Times ran an article titled ‘Efforts to police illegal web downloads are greeted with derision by computer geeks’ (Times July 25 th 2008): here’s some highlights

A quick trawl through technology blogs and comments, however, revealed a number of techniques that could be used to obtain free music over the internet without risk of sanction. The Times downloaded free songs from the Killers and Deep Purple using the tips. According to Terry Hands, writing on Times Online’s comment boards, one of the easiest methods is to use recording technology already installed on most Microsoft computers. “The best way to download is to use Windows Sound Recorder and ‘tape’ the music you want on YouTube or the artist’s Myspace page,” he said. “Happy downloadin’!” On the popular slashdot.com website, an alternative technique was proffered by someone called Anonymous Coward, who said: “Forget file sharing for music. Download Station Ripper (www.stationripper.com), register and hook it up to Last.fm, Pandora. com or any of the hundreds of streaming stations, leave it going for a week, throw away the crap you don’t want.” A more sophisticated approach involves searching for “hidden” directories of music held by individuals on the web. Using the right Google search terms (obtained by searching for “How to get MP3s from Google”) thousands of files from hundreds of artists can be accessed – all freely available to download in seconds. “Getting music by this means is pretty much undetectable,” said Petko Petkov, 25, a self-described “ethical hacker” from Bulgaria who lives in London. “The big file-sharing sites like BitTorrent and LimeWire will be monitored, but anyone can put up a few hundred songs without being noticed. It’s just about knowing where to look.” Other suggestions were strictly for the hardcore computer geek. “Just sign up for an SSH tunnel account that has a SOCKS proxy,” a slashdot blogger suggested, unhelpfully. “I tunnel all my tracker communications through there. Simple.” An easier solution would be to change your ISP to one that did not sign up to yesterday’s agreement. Whatever the technique, everyone agreed that the latest effort by the music industry to protect itself would be defeated by an army of teenage computer geeks willing to try.

The full article by Alexi Moustrous and Dan Sabbagh can be found athttp://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article4393540.ece

And see pithy comment from the IPKat at http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2008/07/bmiisp-agreement-costs-in-pcc.html

And here’s some comment from St Etienne band member Bob Stanley – ‘Paying for Downloads is like buying air’

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article4400789.ece