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Virgin Media To Spy On & Threaten Downloaders 349

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-luck-changing-isps dept.
Mike writes "Virgin Media, the UK's largest cable-modem provider, has decided that it will spy on its users to protect record industry profits. Starting next week Virgin Media will send letters to thousands of households where they suspect music is either being downloaded or illegally shared. The campaign is a joint venture between Virgin Media and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which represents the major record labels. The BPI ultimately wants Internet companies to implement a 'three strikes and out' rule to warn and ultimately disconnect the estimated 6.5 million customers whose accounts are (supposedly) used for regular criminal activity. In other words, you download a few songs and they'll come along and cut off the one wire that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly."
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Virgin Media To Spy On & Threaten Downloaders

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  • by Odder (1288958) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:08AM (#23709683)

    How obvious can an anti-trust and privacy case be? You just know that the internet will become an RIAA only music store for those 6.5 million people.

    People with wealth and power are doing this because they think they can and they must. The political opinions expressed outside of broadcast media will eliminated along with economic threats to the music industry. People who believe in justice and the rule of law are an economic threat too, so this is all the same animal and that's why media consolidation and broadcast itself suck. Society must prevent this and may be able to because so many stand to win as a few lose.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      To be fair, what "justice" is can be defined quite differently over the years.

      The argument for not punishing file sharing is somewhat analogous (with a few less relevant differences) to people walking into vinyl stores some decades ago, and using a piece of custom equipment to duplicate vinyls onto their own blank platters, at a cheaper price, without paying, and then leaving. Would this have been considered "justice" at the time? I doubt it. What are the differences? Not many relevant ones, cluttering up t
      • by snl2587 (1177409) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:27AM (#23710059)

        The real issues are the domestic, warrantless spying and the attempt to bring down Bittorrent even for legal filesharing. Everything else is secondary.

        • I agree (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Odder (1288958)

          but you must understand that the attack on P2P is really an attack on free press and has the same purpose as the other, more serious violations. The point is to shut down political opposition, which in turn threaten established economic interests. All weapons are being used to identify, intimidate, harass, silence and eliminate opposition. Cutting a person's net access is the modern equivalent of exile. It will happen to those identified by wiretaps. Those that persist face the threat of search, arrest

          • Re:I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Macthorpe (960048) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:55AM (#23710547) Journal

            but you must understand that the attack on P2P is really an attack on free press
            I can only assume that you've found some form of political speech that is distributed in illegally shared music, because otherwise your point would be completely meaningless.

            Don't even pretend to mull that over - your point is seriously completely meaningless.
          • Re:I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

            by thtrgremlin (1158085) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:23AM (#23711039) Homepage Journal

            Cutting a person's net access is the modern equivalent of exile.
            Or even cultural excommunication. Something typically reserved for convicted felons that received due process... but in the way we communicated in the past, felons were still capable of rebelling against the system that was against them. In a growing way, internet ban means an inability to fight back.

            I remember when I didn't understand how people equated free speech with a right to net access. I am certain this is what they feared. This broad and loose way of getting dissidents off the net opens the door for keeping "other types of criminals" off the net. That doesn't necessarily make sense to me now, but I have a feeling it will be no surprise when lobbyists start pushing and making headway with a list of "others".
    • by Simonetta (207550) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:44AM (#23710345)
      Virgin Music AND Virgin ISP? Now the marketers that put this together for Sir Richard were convinced that this was a good idea. But it is turning out to be the marriage from hell. Did the lunatics who came up with Daimler-Chrysler have anything to do with this?

          Now if someone in Virgin were smart (and when are virgins ever smart?) they would give reduced or even near free downloads to Virgin Music's recordings. And do it in such a way that the anti-monopoly regulators can't do anything about it. Pure Syzygy. But these bozos are turning Virgin into the most hated conglomerate in the UK. Smooth move for a company that relies on its prominent logo as a universal brand of quality among youthful consumers.

          However it appears that in Virgin only Sir Richard has any brains. Does he hire dolts in order to appear that no one in the organization looks cooler than he does?
      • by mikael (484) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:17AM (#23710953)
        It started because NTL (cable operator) decided to buy out TeleWest (another cable operator), mainly because Telewest was able to remain in the black and NTL kept making a loss and had poor customer service. Both networks had invested heavily in infrastructure and were struggling to make a profit.

        NTL seals $6bn Telewest takeover [bbc.co.uk]

        Then Virgin Mobile andd NTL:Telewest merged. Branson accepted a 10.7% shareholder offer in return for being able to use the Virgin brandname. The motivation for this was to compete against BSkyB, but the side effect was to cause the loss of Sky One and Sky News (a bit pathetic because Sky News can still be viewed using broadband, if only in 10 minute segments), and caused more financial loss to Sky (through advertising revenue) that to Virgin.

        Virgin media [wikipedia.org].

        From the viewpoint of a customer, the side effect of the cable network being bought out by Virgin, has been to have information packs translated into ValleyGirl Speak. The first line was "Hello you!" and an reassuring statement "We're not going to bamboozle you with technobabble, so we've renamed all our services in easy to understand S(mall), (M)edium, (L)arge and (XL)extra-large. Just as bad as sky referring to the receiver unit as the "digibox".
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mpe (36238)
          The motivation for this was to compete against BSkyB, but the side effect was to cause the loss of Sky One and Sky News (a bit pathetic because Sky News can still be viewed using broadband, if only in 10 minute segments),

          Even more ironic Sky News is still of "Freeview"...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jimicus (737525)
        Branson has sold and re-sold the Virgin identity many times. Just because a company is called Virgin and uses the distinctive logo, you shouldn't assume it's got anything to do with anything else in the group.
    • That wire also pays their bills, and they aren't cutting off 6.5 million PAYING customers just because of some stupid illegal downloading.
  • Hyperbole (Score:4, Funny)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:10AM (#23709737)
    In other words, you download a few songs and they'll come along and cut off the one wire that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.

    For those who are unclear on the definition of "hyperbole", please read the above quoted sentence.
    • Re:Hyperbole (Score:5, Informative)

      by The Angry Mick (632931) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:22AM (#23709969) Homepage

      Seriously. Here's the headline and teaser text from the same story as presented by ArsTechnica, which is painted in a vastly different light:

      UK ISP bows to record industry, to send P2P warning letters:
      British ISP Virgin Media has come to an agreement with the BPI, which represents the record industry, to warn filesharers on its network about the dangers of copyright infringement.
      .
      • Re:Hyperbole (Score:5, Informative)

        by Albanach (527650) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:31AM (#23710121) Homepage
        Yes, The Register had a much more balanced article too: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/06/virgin_media_bpi_deal/ [theregister.co.uk].From that article, 'At this stage there will be no "three strikes" process; customers who continue to fileshare illegally will not be disconnected.'

        Virgin are also quoted as saying it was unwilling to disconnect customers who don't stop accessing illegal music. A spokesman said: "It's a bit of a judgement call for us to be making threats of disconnection or account suspension. We weren't willing to do that. There are now so many lawful cheap and free music services out there that we believe an education campaign in partnership with the BPI is the best way forward."

        Seems Virgin aren't quite being the bad guys the summary makes out.
        • Wow! (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Yes, The Register had a much more balanced article too

          Now, THERE'S a sentence I thought I would never see.
      • Exact same summary (and link) on Boing Boing...

        http://www.boingboing.net/2008/06/09/virgin-media-uk-work.html [boingboing.net]

        I'm pretty sure Cory Doctorow used it first.

    • Re:Hyperbole (Score:5, Informative)

      by blowdart (31458) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:27AM (#23710055) Homepage
      And it, of course, shows a stunning lack of understanding of geography or other countries. The UK has no enshrined right to free speech, the right to assembly has been slowly curtailed since the 1980s, starting with laws to stop raves, and then to stop political demonstrations in certain areas (like outside parliament) and cutting off a personal internet account doesn't stop journalists reporting.

      The three strikes "solution" is problematic however; because suddenly a corporation is policing something. And that is more worrying than anything else.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mikael (484)
        starting with laws to stop raves

        Because the rave parties were being held out in disused barns in the countryside, through the night to the early morning, disturbing both farm workers and animals.

        olitical demonstrations in certain areas (like outside parliament)

        Because the MP's didn't want their work disturbed by the noise made by certain protestors - if they listened to the voted population in the first place, they wouldn't have protestors outside their offices in the first place.
    • Re:Hyperbole (Score:4, Informative)

      by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:39AM (#23710247) Homepage
      Also for those who are unclear on the definition of "UK", note that it is not the USA. Ergo any comparison with USian freedoms is stark raving bonkers. We don't have freedom of speech or freedom of assembly here, they have never been enshrined as rights (freedom of the press, though, is enforced by the Press Complaints Authority with arms-length backing from Her Majesty's Government).

      For example, it is illegal to wear a t-shirt with a politican slogan in the street outside Parliament.
      • Re:Hyperbole (Score:4, Informative)

        by l-ascorbic (200822) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:11AM (#23710847)
        The PCA doesn't enforce freedom of the press. Quite the contrary. It's a method by which the press self-regulates. It doesn't stop the govt placing restrictions on the press. It investigates complaints *against* the press, such as for invasion of privacy.

        As for no enshrined rights: the Human Rights Act codifies a large number of them, including freedom of speech. As for the US Constitution: the Bill of Rights was strongly influenced by British common law, including the Magna Carta.

        That said, this hasn't stopped the government trampling on a lot of these rights. Much of this is due to the fact that we don't have a Supreme Court (yet) so it's hard to enforce any of them.
      • After the terrible events of WWII, major european countries came together and created the closest thing we have to a constitution, the European Convention of Human Rights. This was ratified in law in 1998 with the Human Rights Act. But yes, our civil liberties in the UK are eroding, but we do have the same protection as our "USian" cousins. Just their constitution is being just as shredded as our human rights.
      • Re:Hyperbole (Score:4, Informative)

        by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Monday June 09, 2008 @01:19PM (#23712867) Journal
        > We don't have freedom of speech

        This is a very simplistic view. Just as with the US constitution, the fact that it's not written down doesn't mean that we don't have the right. In Britain the law isn't just determined by those bills that pass through parliament. It is also defined by precedents set by judges in earlier cases. The right of Britons to freedom of speech has been upheld time and again by British courts going back centuries. A judge can't simply overturn that. There is some wiggle room over when those rights can be suspended. In the US, the litmus test for whether or not free speech can be suspended is whether or not there is a "clear and present danger". But that test isn't codified in the Constitution, it arose because of a legal precedent set in a court case. So the situation in the US and UK are pretty similar in this regard.

    • by D'Sphitz (699604)
      It's nice to know that cable internet is an inaliable right...
  • by Bullfish (858648) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:11AM (#23709751)
    my belief is that this tactic will work out equally as well as it has in the US and elsewhere. Now... the real issue for me is why do so many of these industry people believe that they can implement a stupid idea better than the last guy?
    • I'm surprised it hasn't come up here yet, but in the USA, I believe that ISPs can't snoop on their users' traffic if they wish to maintain their "common carrier" status. Basically, it means that if they do start prosecuting for piracy, then they'll have to make damn sure that they get every single one, otherwise they're legally liable for letting that one slip. But IANAA(merican), so I'm not certain whether this is 100% accurate.

      (On topic) I'm surprised ISPs would shoot themselves in the foot like this
  • Broadband access (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrbah (844007) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:11AM (#23709759)
    Well, that's one way to increase broadband access. Drive everyone to lease their own T1s instead of putting up with this kind of crap.
    • by aslate (675607)
      I'm not quite sure how cable works over there, but Virgin Media provide some of the fastest connections in the area, currently they're touting 50MBit and 100MBit in trial areas in Kent / London. In comparison, the fastest non-cable ADSL connection is 24MBit (although our ISP doesn't care what we do with those 24MBits). Why bother leasing a T1 line instead?
  • by drDugan (219551) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:12AM (#23709771) Homepage
    Good thing there are still some competition on who provides Internet service. I expect that this behavior would have the obvious effect that users will simply use different providers: providers that focus on their customers and not other business' interests.

    Here in the San Francisco area, for example, there are locally owned ISP companies that have focused on high quality service and support and have grown and down well while providing DSL at faster speeds and lower cost than the larger providers.

  • by v1 (525388) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:13AM (#23709783) Homepage Journal
    "...they'll come along and cut off the one wire that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly."

    TFA makes it sound like the internet is the only way to exercise these liberties. I suppose blowing up the courthouse is also one way for me to exercise my voice but they seem to have made that one illegal. Shame on them!
  • freedom (Score:3, Informative)

    by mark72005 (1233572) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:13AM (#23709789)
    "Freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly"

    Well, we're talking about the UK here, not the US.
  • That is what comes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:13AM (#23709799)
    From using a record company as your ISP. Anyone could have predicted that they would be tougher on illegal downloads than ISPs that are mainly communications companies.
  • Ordinarily I oppose just about anything that the RIAA and their cohorts do. However, when I see a line like

    download a few songs and they'll come along and cut off the one wire that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly

    And I'm no longer in support of the author of this article.

    Really, how does the internet deliver freedom of assembly? And how does not having the internet really stop your ability to use freedom of assembly? I'm pretty sure assemblies have been held without the internet in the past.

    And thats just to point out one absurdity in that sentence. There are plenty of good reasons to be angry abo

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BorgDrone (64343)

      Really, how does the internet deliver freedom of assembly?
      IRC, instant messaging, webforums,etc.

      And how does not having the internet really stop your ability to use freedom of assembly? I'm pretty sure assemblies have been held without the internet in the past.
      Sure, it's still possible to 'assemble' offline, but the threshold is a lot higher. Furthermore, you're excluded from online 'assemblies'.
      • Really, how does the internet deliver freedom of assembly?

        IRC, instant messaging, webforums,etc.

        That is delivering ability of assembly. It is not delivering freedom of assembly.

        And even if your ISP denies you internet access, you can still access the same online resources through other mechanisms - public libraries, coffee shops, maybe even (gasp!) other peoples' homes.

        I don't see how the freedom of assembly is lost here.

    • by bugnuts (94678)
      Aye, that line was idiotic. Did phones stop existing? Airwaves gone, too? Granted, this is the UK, so I have no idea if people are sequestered to their houses with only a cable modem, but somehow I doubt it....

      The only wire that cuts off all those freedoms is your spinal column.

    • Who needs legs? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by westbake (1275576)

      You don't need legs to join a protest, but that does not give you the right to cut mine off.


      The internet, if you had not noticed, has made it possible for people all around the world to cooperate. It is vital to modern political movements and business. The ability to share and publish has gone a long way to repair the damage government created broadcast networks did to democracy and civil discourse.

    • by Floritard (1058660) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:52AM (#23710495)

      Really, how does the internet deliver freedom of assembly?
      The irony being, you've posted this question on a public forum.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It isn't at all ironic if you understand the point the parent is making.

        A right (what we're calling freedom in this case) is something you already have, it doesn't require anyone to give you anything. People who are too broke to buy an internet connection still have all of the listed rights. Government and corporations cannot give you rights, they can only take them away.

        This seems like pedantic nitpicking but it is a critical thing to understand when talking about rights, and losing them. The sentence in q
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:15AM (#23709829) Homepage
    Until intellectual property law is forced to conform to the same expectations that private property has, it will never have universal legitimacy in the culture the way that physical property has (except with thieves and Socialists; I repeat myself...)

    A modest proposal:

    1) Outlaw implied contracts. When I buy a movie, CD, program, etc., unless I sign something in writing, prior to the purchase, any "contract" should be null and void, and any effort to enforce it should be criminal activity.

    2) Copyright infringement by sharing copyrighted data is treated as theft, with goods valued for the purpose of assessment under existing property laws at current market value. Copyright infringement by accident, like posting a single picture you weren't supposed to on your site is not a crime at all or at the worst gets you a slap on the wrist.

    3) Copyright holders cannot restrict how any one copy of their work is used by buyers, except to make them respect the artificial scarcity of copyright law. Meaning, if I want to resell iPhones with jail-broken OSs and tons of apps, Apple cannot legally interfere with my customers' enjoyment of their iPhone and its OS anymore than Honda could interfere with my customers if I were selling modified racing civics (except to cut off their warranty).
    • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:32AM (#23710143)

      3) Copyright holders cannot restrict how any one copy of their work is used by buyers, except to make them respect the artificial scarcity of copyright law.

      I'm not sure I believe in this. The ability to create derivative works is not just to protect the value of the intellectual property. It is also to protect the integrity. Think about how horrible it would be if you could take classic films (like Star Wars), and add tons of CG effects, and resell them.

    • by zotz (3951)
      Sorry,

      Your number 2 is not going to fly...

      Here is a counter proposal...

      http://zotzbro.blogspot.com/2007/04/some-thoughts-on-copyright-offensive.html [blogspot.com]

      all the best,

      drew
    • by scruffy (29773)

      Until intellectual property law is forced to conform to the same expectations that private property has, it will never have universal legitimacy in the culture the way that physical property has (except with thieves and Socialists; I repeat myself...)

      IP should not have the same expectations. Otherwise, we would still be paying the estate of Aristotle. We need keep it possible to build on the achievements of previous generations. This won't work if we have to pay fees to the many thousands (millions?) that have added their intellectual work to our technology and culture.

      And I think you mean "real property" instead of "private property".

    • by monxrtr (1105563)
      Virgin ISP cannot "inspect" any packets of information except by copying the data into an anlysis program. Virgin will end up committing trillions of acts of copyright infringement by actively monitoring user data. So in essence Virgin is just throwing away the entirety of their corporate assets to their UK subscribers. If I lived in the UK and was a Virgin customer, I'd be contacting the lawyers and looking forward to retirement after selling off Virgin assets through the bankruptcy courts.

      I assume Virgin
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      3) Copyright holders cannot restrict how any one copy of their work is used by buyers, except to make them respect the artificial scarcity of copyright law. Meaning, if I want to resell iPhones with jail-broken OSs and tons of apps, Apple cannot legally interfere with my customers' enjoyment of their iPhone and its OS anymore than Honda could interfere with my customers if I were selling modified racing civics (except to cut off their warranty).

      Apple didn't do it. They released an update, they warned people

  • Totally Cheddar (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:15AM (#23709835)
    In other words, you download a few songs and they'll come along and cut off the one wire that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.

    I don't mean to be critical, but isn't this just a touch over the top? I don't like the idea of people tracking downloads and cutting of Internet connections any more than you, but for the moment, downloading is still illegal. If someone managed to catch you and charge you $10,000 per song (or whatever the going rate is...I think it's rationed on the same scale as gas prices) or throw you in prison for repeat offenses, would that be any better than losing your ISP?

    We need to convince the world that the recording industry is trying to bill us for not buying horseshoes even though we're driving cars. They've said it themselves: they made a mistake by not having download services sooner, and now they've lost a generation of kids who think music grows on the web for free. Let them charge the band for the original recording of the song, the videos, take a share of concert revenue for the advertising work, etc. But taking a percentage of money every time the song is played or recorded elsewhere, in the age of perfect digital copies, is archaic at best.

    But don't make me want to go buy duct tape and plastic sheeting because I'm breaking the current copyright laws.
  • by tezza (539307) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:19AM (#23709923)
    I think Mike the submitter is really overdoing it with his rhetoric.

    "the one wire that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly"
    --- Mike, take an antacid and calm down. You'll save yourself a stroke.

    *Why could you not legally download the songs?
    * If they wanted to disconnect you, could they not just find some other trumped up reason to do so?
    * There is plenty of alternate choice for broadband in places where Virgin Media is commonly available

    Let's wait to see just how often this gets used before it becomes an issue.

    I get throttled all the time after a few DivX downloads, and the solution is to download in non-peak times.

    I'm sure slashdot will be informed once the letters actually start being posted.

    • by dwandy (907337)

      Why could you not legally download the songs?

      Why do you assume guilt? it's not like their methods [slashdot.org] are infallible.
      • by tezza (539307)
        "it's not like their methods are infallible."

        I agree with you that the detection algorithms may be heavy on false positives. But it will help your case if you as an end user have 99% legal purchases to demonstrate as evidence.

        As I said, let's wait and see how this pans out. If you're really worried, switch ISP now.

        Surely people are at much greater danger of some knob planting kiddie-pr0n on your computer, than someone planting illegal downloads.

  • Ummmm, tasty Monday! Couldn't the poster have thrown in a few more choice nuggets as kerosene? Maybe like Geo Bush approves and applauded Virgin, or maybe Sr Richard Branson needed the money??
  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:20AM (#23709939)

    From TFA:

    If you use peer-to-peer applications to copy or distribute copyrighted material such as music, films and software, and do so without paying royalties, you are almost certainly infringing the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

    I think the real question here is how Virgin intends to "catch" subscribers. Will any form of P2P traffic result in a letter? TFA, while full of feel-good rhetoric about damages to our vibrant economy, is scant on details in this regard.

  • Phew! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tx (96709) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:22AM (#23709971) Journal
    At first, I read "British Pornographic Industry", and I was seriously worried! But its only the music, so I think I'm safe.
  • 6.5 million (Score:2, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536)

    6.5 million customers whose accounts are (supposedly) used for regular criminal activity
    When that large a proportion of the population is breaking a law, should the law itself be put into question? Basically, if a society doesn't consider something to be objectionable, shouldn't it be legal? That should be a natural consequence of democracy.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:24AM (#23709987)
    This is literally the "Whackamole" of modern business.

    They just do not get it.

    People do not have $10,000 to load up an IPOD with content.

    People will spend to the level they can/feel is ethical and then take the rest.

    If they can't get it off the internet, they'll do it face to face in sneaker nets.
    Or they'll encrypt/mangle the packets.
    Or things we havn't even imagined yet.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by oldspewey (1303305)

      Within 5km of where I live, there are several malls (one huge one, several smaller ones) and countless other small stores located in strip plazas, where pirated CDs and DVDs are available by the thousands if not millions. Six new-release DVDs for $10? No problem. Hollywood? Bollywood? Euro art films? East Asian cinema? No problem. CDs and DVDs filled with mp3 music? No problem.

      This activity has been going on for years and years without pause despite various "crackdown" efforts I read about in the news. It

  • Virgin this... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:26AM (#23710025)

    The wonderful thing about huge, sprawling conglomerates like Virgin is that there's no shortage of ways to hit back at them when they pull this kind of bullshit.

    Do you have a Virgin cell phone? Pound it to slag and mail it back to the bastards, along with a letter explaining why you won't be needing their services anymore. Tell your travel agent that you won't accept a flight on any Virgin plane, and drop them a line telling them about it. Show up at good old Sir Richard's next publicity stunt with appropriately humorous and offensive signs.

    The beauty of it is that if enough people act, the pressure doesn't have to be kept up for long to have a real effect on the bottom line. How long would it take before losses in other areas overtake any possible gain from Virgin's Nazi-esque assault on free speech?

    • by jez9999 (618189)
      I keep getting junk mail in the post to come to Virgin because of their 'blazing fast' internet speeds and cool cable TV. I stick with Be Unlimited, and Sky. I am happy. :-)

      I do use Virgin Mobile for my mobile phone, though, because of its simple PAYG tariff. Maybe I'll reconsider that one...
  • by AdmV0rl0n (98366)
    'Pirates' support Al Quida'.

    Before you know it, they'll need 42 days to sift through your windows DLLs and files. After all, being able to say hundreds of thousands of files and by implication 'this is hard' means a reasonable premise(not). But only to the stupid.

    The UK already has enormous monitoring and invasive abuse of its citizens, bad enough before 'companies' start attempting to take the law into their own hands and begin illicit and comprehensive invasion of people's privacy to support their monopol
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) warnings on the end of DVDs already tell you that piracy supports international terrorism and organised crim. Quite how those adverts haven't been bitch-slapped by the advertising standards agency, I have no idea.
  • OT - YRO section (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ubrgeek (679399) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:35AM (#23710195)
    These stories are getting more and more depressing. I suggest changing the section name to, "Your (Lack of) Rights Online."
  • by jimicus (737525) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:40AM (#23710271)
    The UK government has already said to ISPs "Stop your users downloading illegally or we'll pass legislation forcing you to":

    http://news.zdnet.co.uk/communications/0,1000000085,39290371,00.htm [zdnet.co.uk]

    http://www.techwatch.co.uk/2008/02/25/uk-isp%E2%80%99s-must-stop-illegal-downloads/ [techwatch.co.uk]

    (You've got to admire that approach to democracy out of sheer morbid fascination, really, haven't you. It amounts to "You're not doing anything illegal, but if you don't stop doing it we'll make it illegal!")

    Virgin Media haven't really got any choice here, and I think we'll see similar announcements regarding other ISPs within the next 6-12 months.
  • So, let me get this straight:

    6.5 million people connections.
    Let's just say that, on average, people are paying $15US per connection per month.

    That would be $97,500,000 per month in lost revenue to the broadband industry, or a cool $1,170,000,000 per year in lost revenue.

    Uh huh. Go on, then, pull the other one.

    How long until someone comes up with a way to completely anonymize P2P applications? Or someone comes up with the next way of doing this that is almost, but not entirely, unlike current P2P apps?

    I'm
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mikael (484)
      A single customer at Virgin would pay a lot more than $15 month. Just double pounds and you will get the equivalent price in dollars.

      Broadband -
      2 Mb = 9 pound/month (Size M)
      4 Mb = 16 pound/month (Size L),
      20Mb = 26 pound/month (Size XL)

      Digital TV -
      40 Channels - Free (Size M)
      90 Channels - 9 pounds/month (Size L)
      145 Channels - 19.90 pounds/month (Size XL)

      Landline Phone
      Talk Weekends - 11 pounds/month (Size M)
      Talk Evenings/Weekends - 14.14 pounds/month (Size L)
      Talk Unlimited - 18.95 pounds/month (Size XL)

      Mobile
  • "Virgin Media to decided what traffic it wants going through its routers and switches and crossing its wires."

    Its an allegedly "free market." If you don't like the terms they require in order to utilize their property, take your business elsewhere. This is no more nefarious a move against your "rights" than a publican decided he wants his facility to be non-smoking, regardless of local ordinances.

    Its a private private entity, not a government utility. There is a distinction to be drawn.

    Also, I don't see
  • OK, I've said this before, but it apparently bears repeating.

    If a company assumes responsibility for inspecting your content, then THEY ARE NO LONGER A COMMON CARRIER!!! They are now gatekeepers, which means they are responsible for ALL content that goes through their network. If they fail to catch some illegal downloaders or kiddie-porn peddlers, then THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR IT!

    Sooner or later, this piece of shit will hit the fan, and when it does, the ISPs are going to get messy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by QX-Mat (460729)
      For UK/EU ppl out there, http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2002/20022013.htm [opsi.gov.uk] and http://www.out-law.com/page-431 [out-law.com] for the safe harbour provisions.

      Rest is my untested knowledge for which I accept no liability.

      I believe it all hinges on third party liability to a breach tho - a question of fact and degree will not suffice in claims like this. Third party liability is only established through knowing participation (knowledgeable assistance if you will).

      Actual knowledge is one piece constructive, and one piece subject
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:12AM (#23710867)
    First, all torrents should be encrypted.

    All user's torrent servers should present an NDA and disclaimer to the effect:

    "Before connecting with this machine you attest to the fact that you are not downloading anything that you may find that you do not have the legal right to access.

    You further more state under oath that any and all activity on this connection is legal as well as private and confidential.

    Any and all legal issues arising from your activity are solely your responsibility

    Lastly, you indemnify the operator of this torrent server against any and all legal actions for your activity."

    yes or no.
  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by travelmug (1304549) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:24AM (#23711067)
    I guess the British Government has better things to worry about other than online predators and such. How about using the ISP's to look for them?
  • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:27AM (#23711115)
    The only thing that customers of Virgin Media can do is to switch to another carrier and bad mouth their service to others (and encourage others to switch). They still want to make money and bad press changes behavior.
  • Three strikes? (Score:3, Informative)

    by rgviza (1303161) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:51AM (#23711521)
    That's actually pretty kind for people that violate their ToS, which usually list copyright violations as one of the big no-nos. Technically they could drop them on the first offense then hand them over to the RIAA with all the evidence the RIAA needs.

    Personally I'd rather have my service cut off and learn a valuable lesson than get sued by the RIAA. It's doubtful that it's a antitrust violation since they are punishing people that break the rules outlined in their ToS.

    Bravo? They are doing their subscribers a favor. They could collect the info, forward it to the RIAA, then let them keep subscribing so the RIAA can surgically get their statistics and log them sharing files until they get a suitably sized sample of their activity to get whatever damage award they want.

    Another point: Since shares are publicly accessible on the p2p networks, it's not spying, despite the tin foil hat mentality the author is implying. Spying implies the interception of communication. Sharing files illegally doesn't require spying to see it happening.

    All it takes is a p2p program on the same network...

    It's the ISPs duty to police illegal activity occurring on their network.

    The only danger I see is that people sharing files legally (the copyright owners) could be singled out and dropped erroneously.

    I fail to see how this is any worse than an employer firing someone for running a p2p server which is sharing copyrighted files to the world from their employer's network. Copyright violation is copyright violation, and is illegal activity according to current laws.

    If you want to fix this problem, write your leaders and have the copyright laws changed. They are the real culprit, not the people abiding the law by policing their networks.

    -Viz
  • by TallMatthew (919136) on Monday June 09, 2008 @03:25PM (#23715021)

    At what point will the powers that be in the record industry realize that they will never get back to making billions off of CDs? What a bunch of whiny little bitches.

    The world changed. But rather than adjust to a new business model (heaven forbid!), they're bullying ISPs into policing the Internet and litigating individuals. All in an attempt to return to a market which will never again exist.

    Worse yet, the MPAA is doing the same thing. They could move first-run movies to pay per view today and make billions, but instead they're sticking to their guns, staggering release dates to try and maximize DVD sales. In the meantime, people are becoming increasingly comfortable downloading rips and screeners off of the various torrent portals.

    This all could have been avoided (and in the movie industry's case, would be avoided), if the corporations would adjust to new technologies instead of trying to squish them. If the Itunes Music Store had opened before Napster, it would be a totally different world.

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