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BPI Defends Anti-File-Sharing Partnership With Virgin Media 98

MrSteveSD writes "The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has responded to criticism by Bill Thomson over its collusion with Virgin Media in targeting UK file sharers. BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor personally wrote to the BBC to set things straight, and he asserts that 'it's Mr Thompson, rather than music companies, who is stuck in the past.' Of course, Virgin Media customers who download music and TV legally often find their connections being turned down to unusable speeds due to Virgin's aggressive throttling policy." Mike also points out a blog entry that describes one of the letters received by a Virgin Media customer. In the letter were suggestions regarding the customer's router settings and anti-virus software.
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BPI Defends Anti-File-Sharing Partnership With Virgin Media

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  • The "letter" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:16AM (#23800427) Homepage Journal
    I actually read the letter this guy got and this comment stood out:

    "But, when I do, it does mean that traffic from other machines could be dropping out through my pipe because my laptopâ(TM)s configured as a Tor exit."

    Sorry guy, but you are responsible for any traffic that comes thru your connection. its part of the contract. You violate the contract you can be cut off. Take it like a man.

    We can debate all day long if there is such a thing as IP rights, if throttling is ok or the letters are proper ( i happen to think they should go suck an egg personally and don't believe in IP rights ) but using the argument 'it wasn't my PC' is pretty flimsy when you are running a proxy drain point intentionally.

    Yet another reason we should all be using freenet.. you cant pin the 'act' down on anyone in particular. All they can do is bitch that you are using too much bandwidth.
  • Re:Defence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by negRo_slim ( 636783 ) <> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:19AM (#23800457) Homepage

    ow do they feel about the loss of my money as a possible subscriber / music listener?
    I'm sure they give about two shits worth of thought to you. But then again that's the problem =)
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:25AM (#23800497) Homepage Journal

    you people are letting that happen in u.s.

    lobbyists, corporate interests, 'donations' to senators, and they produce bills for their masters.

    you need to take the reins back. and not listen to 'business should be free' bullshit from conservatives. for the freedom they speak of is only freedom for them to do whatever they want (to the extent of implanting workers with rfid chips for sake of 'security' - until california senate whacked them down) and get on top of the pile. theres no tolerance for competition in their view of life. so its pointless to lend an ear to them.

    you need a new 'new deal' president like FDR. one seems to be coming up. grab him.
  • Faulty assumption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mangu ( 126918 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:47AM (#23800639)
    FTA: "Independent research has shown time after time that people who download illegally generally spend less on music than people that don't, which undermines investment in new music."

    Well, I suppose deaf people spend even less in buying music. The error, as always, is assuming buying would be an option for people who download illegally.

    I recently downloaded an old movie from a torrent. I would have paid, maybe $1, for that movie. It's on sale at Amazon for $14.95. If I didn't have the option of an illegal download, I simply wouldn't have watched it. There's no way I'll pay $15 for something that's worth at most $1 to me.

    What truly undermines that market aren't illegal downloads. Until the industry learns how to calculate pricing according to market rules, they'll have to live with it.

  • by ehack ( 115197 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:49AM (#23800657) Journal
    I disagree with Virgin - but this guy doesn't quite realize what he's been doing?

    He's running a net anonymizer - and he was logged as having downloaded a Winehouse song. He says he ain't done it, but maybe someone on the net running Tor did - maybe he doesn't quite get it ?

    If I lend my house to some idiot, and there is a report of someone having brought stolen property into my house, that doesn't make me a thief, but it doesn't mean the report is baseless either.

  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:55AM (#23800691) Journal
    whether this is in England or North America. Cable companies and large ISPs in general have the same problem in most places.

    They did not invest in infrastructure of the future at any point in the past. That is to say that they have never done what was needed to build a network that would support heavy usage.

    An example of this is the cable company that I have to use (there are no options. Satellite is not a viable option for broadband IMO). I have three cable boxes on digital cable. If I rent a movie in the living room I can't move to the bedroom to watch it without having to pay twice. This means there is NO infrastructure built to know I have two boxes and which they are so that I can rent a movie once and watch anywhere in the house. This is not just ignorant of the capabilities of technology, it is blatantly ignoring them at the cost of value to the consumer.

    There are a few people that would defend this situation with various excuses, but they won't work IMO because of the complaints that ISPs make regarding network usage, and the balance of guilt when you see what they were given as incentives to build a viable, usable network already.

    Their business plan has been designed to steal as much money from the user's pockets and the government as possible. They have done nothing less.

    This business of throttling traffic because of bandwidth usage is criminal in nature. If you rented a car to drive to your aunt's house but found that you weren't able to drive the expected speeds on all roads because of crippling by the rental company, would you sue? would you rent from them again? would you complain to the appropriate regulatory agency?

    Go ahead, tell me about the fine print in the contract. meh. I pay for xyz MBits/second and I have more than reasonable expectation that this is what I'll be able to get regardless of protocol, end destination, or content.

    The fact that I can't and that ISPs are throttling the service that I paid for is criminal. Their business model is broken. period. They have oversold their network to steal money from you and I, and now they got caught. It is convenient for them to blame the BPI and **AA, and there may indeed be collusion, but the fact remains that they did NOT use the money they were given to produce a usable network and are now trying, AGAIN, to get the users or government to pay them extra to build one.

    Why, yes, I do have a solution. I'm glad you asked. The last mile should never belong to a private enterprise. It should belong to co-operatives or the local council or some group that is directly responsible to the local public. By responsible, I mean by order of a vote, they can be replaced and the performance of the cooperative is judged on whether they keep their jobs in a way similar to how AT&T boardmembers are responsible to the share holders.

    Yes, all that AT&T, Virgin, Verizon, Comcast et all can do is provide network services. They can only hook up their big pipes to the local WAN and provide backbone network services. You can subscribe to their email etc. or you can subscribe to someone else's email and home page portal. You would be able to access Google via any of them network service packages. Like emergency services, email services would be possible without having long distance.

    Once network services are separated from last mile and provisioning services, their worth will be seen in the correct light, and all this throttling will become a thing of the past, a memory of bad times when criminals ran the board meetings and made marketing decisions for cable companies.

    When consumers have the right to choose and can do so with a phone call, then the market place will work as it should.

    In short, Fuck Virgin! and all their warlord comrades around the world.
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:02PM (#23800727) Journal
    We have a Justice Department that is absolutely unwilling to prosecute any big corporations for anti-trust. It's been like this for the last 2 decades, and it's now the reason we have only a few oil companies, only a few airlines, only a few national telcos.

    One great example is Boeing. They were allowed to buy up all the other airframe manufacturers in the US because they claimed they couldn't compete with Airbus otherwise. Boeing got fat and happy, getting all the big contracts, until Airbus ate their lunch by building better planes. Boeing stopped trying so hard because they had no domestic competition, and now they can't compete with Airbus.

    The government of the United States has been completely co-opted by big business. We now have a person running for president (the old white guy) whose staff is entirely made up of paid representatives of big business, who have been paying his way for his entire 30-year political career. Some of them are also paid representatives of other countries, including Iran.
  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:04PM (#23800749)
    I think it would help greatly if BPI and the other record industry associations would stop talking about "consumers". We are their CUSTOMERS. Major difference. A consumer is an anonymous, generalised person that has the sole purpose of spending money. A customer however is someone you have a business relationship with.
    In TFA, the BPI is talking about "consumers" when talking about people that are enjoying music and other recordings, but "customers" when they are talking about the ISP. BPI doesn't have customers, obviously. So no wonder they don't care about what the people want. And the people don't care about the record companies either: they are just consumers, supposed to just consume whatever is recorded.
    Not that I fully agree with the original column, the reply by PBI is particularly sickening. The attitude they present is so high-hearted, as if they are God and the consumers exist only to serve them. I do understand the record companies have a big problem on their hand, but the last thing any reasonable business should do is sue their own customers. Oh well, they don't have customers, there are just consumers. And who cares about consumers, because they will consume anyway.
  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:09PM (#23800781) Journal

    But it's naive at best to think licensed music services can prosper without action being taken against illegal downloading.
    It's even more naive to think that any amount of cracking down on piracy is going to solve this, at least without massive collateral damage.

    Music companies are radically re-inventing their business models in response to changes in how music fans want to access music online.
    Amazingly, they haven't figured it out yet.

    Independent research has shown time after time that people who download illegally generally spend less on music than people that don't, which undermines investment in new music.
    I'd like to see those studies. I've found that I actually spend more on music than I otherwise would.

    As a self-confessed illegal downloader, Bill may not know there are already hundreds of licensed online and mobile services (carrying more than six million tracks) from which to choose where and how to access music legally.
    Ten that I know of, but let's find out which ones they mention...

    iTunes (paid-for a la carte downloads), Napster and eMusic (monthly subscription), We7 (free to consumer, ad-supported), (interactive web radio), YouTube, Yahoo (streamed video on-demand) and Nokia's Comes With Music (music as part of a subscription) are just some of the many digital business models that record labels are supporting.
    Let's run through that, shall we? iTunes, while not always DRM'd, still requires the iTunes client. Napster relies on DRM, and you lose your music if they go out of business. We7 and actually have a shot at competing with piracy. YouTube doesn't provide any revenue to publishers, that I know of.

    Oh, by the way, there's also Azureus Vuze, among others, who rely on filesharing to work, even as they allow for-pay downloads.

    We believe that ISPs, far from being a simple pipe, can become significant distributors of digital media, and share in the tremendous value that would be unleashed if more music were accessed legally online.
    Ah, now their true colors come out. To everyone who pointed out that BPI is no longer the same company as the music label, it looks as though they still want a piece of the pie.

    But despite the proliferation of licensed services, most music is still downloaded from unlicensed services - a problem that cannot be addressed through new models alone.
    Ok, one, how is that a problem? It's a problem if they aren't using your model -- not that they're getting music illegally. A download is not necessarily a lost sale.

    And two, if it can't be addressed through new models alone, it can't be addressed -- again, without significant collateral damage.
  • by Tankko ( 911999 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:19PM (#23800857)
    Yeah sure there are some mega-hit songs and some blockbuster movies I would have to go without, but there are other things in life. In fact it might be better for the art of music and movies as every work would have to be an indie work.

    Those two things are not unconnected. A lot of Indie films get made (financed) because of the profits of block busters. Hollywood is very good at farming new talent through Indie films. This isn't to say that no Indie films would get made, but I bet that several of your favorite films would not have.

    Be thankful for the sheep-masses, they help fund the good stuff you and I like.
  • Re:difference ? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:53PM (#23801141)
    I know the virgin company and it's takeover of NTL broadband quite well. I'm quite convinced you are 100% wrong and, rather, just posted your "+4, intereting" take on virgin based on "facts" that you completely pulled out of your backside. Still, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt - please by all means tell us what you specifically KNOW, rather than are speculating wildly on, about "corporate lore, connections, even high level executives" at virgin broadband. Please - let us have an honest assessment of what you are actually bringing to the table here. Let's have it, please.
  • by WidescreenFreak ( 830043 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:01PM (#23801199) Homepage Journal
    Slight problem with the first few paragraphs of your argument. Comcast, Verizon, and the lot were given billions of TAXPAYER DOLALRS to build that infrastructure so that things like throttling and bandwidth caps never happened. They clearly did not live up to their end of the bargain, and now are playing the "victim" card and expecting us to understand. I would love to gee the GAO do a full audit on these companies to find out exactly where those billions of dollars went. But I fully agree with the rest of your statements.
  • by Harold Halloway ( 1047486 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @03:43PM (#23802609)
    I agree. The blogger is quite clearly stupid and just has a crappy attitude. He should consider himself lucky that it was only an Amy Whinemouse track that got downloaded through his open wi-fi.
  • by localman ( 111171 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @06:13PM (#23803885) Homepage
    While I agree to some degree, and in all honesty sometimes operate under the same guidelines, there's a little hand-waving going on here.

    The implicit agreement of the market is something to the effect of "if you don't like the price, don't buy it". But an assumption built into "don't buy it" is that you're not going to have the same benefits as having bought it, either. The high ground here is to just not watch the movie.

    But you did, because you were willing to spend the time to get it illegally. Let's say it was $1. Does that mean that the movie should be sold for $1? Only if that would cause about 14X more people to buy it, and that is also a faulty assumption. Here's a fairly sound assumption: if it was trivially easy for everyone to get a free version that was just as good as the pay version, there would be no pay version. Luckily for us, it takes some extra effort to get a free version and it's usually not quite as good, thus enough people keep paying into the system.

    Incidentally, in some ways the free version is superior to the pay versions as they stand now: instant gratification (as compared to amazon), easier storage (as compared to a DVD), more flexible playback (as compared to iTunes), etc. And I think these things are as much to blame for piracy as the near-zero-cost.

    In the end, I don't believe it is right to download stuff you haven't paid for, though I don't think it cuts into sales nearly as much as businesses claim. It's still fairly amoral, by which I mean it eventually has some negative indirect effects.

    I do think that if some company got the instant gratification, storage, quality, flexibility, and pricing right, they'd be able to re-capture a lot of the pirate market and make at least a bit more money than they do now by whining. So I don't have a lot of sympathy either.

  • by pbhj ( 607776 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @07:32PM (#23804463) Homepage Journal

    [...] in some ways the free version is superior to the pay versions as they stand now: instant gratification (as compared to amazon), easier storage (as compared to a DVD), more flexible playback (as compared to iTunes), etc. [...]
    You can buy the DVD to pay for the right to watch the movie, then download it. Seems completely legit to me, may not be legal but it's certainly morally right and you get the benefits you thought you were losing.

    How much is a judge going to award against you when you show that for those 10's of movies on your hard drives you have DVDs telling you your licensed to view the contents?

    YMMV, the law isn't this logical, IA-most-definitely-NAL

  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:48PM (#23804845)

    But despite the proliferation of licensed services, most music is still downloaded from unlicensed services
    Sounds like the "licensed services" are not being allowed to deliver what people actually want.

    - a problem that cannot be addressed through new models alone.
    If the RIAA/IFPI/etc had bought out napster and assumed the helm instead of trying to stamp it out.. or ANY of the following p2p technologies, they could have leveraged the business models used by those p2p companies to gain revenue (E.G. ADVERTISING).

      they chose not to and still refuse to do so.

    Lies by omission are still lies. Keep lying to everyone, but nobody outside your payrolls is buying it.

  • Re:difference ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drharris ( 1100127 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:15PM (#23805751)
    If Mr. Branson indeed owns 10.7% of the current incarnation of the corporation, that means there is ample motive to use his considerable influence over the board of directors to convince them to reel in more profits away from these "thieves".

    In light of that, I would expect the connection to be just as deep as is surmised be previous posters.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2008 @02:54AM (#23806955)

    This business of throttling traffic because of bandwidth usage is criminal in nature.
    Not necessarily so. The sizing of their channels depends on a statistical model. Usually that model is right, but if for whatever reason it isn't, the customers must compete for whatever bandwidth is available...

    If you rented a car to drive to your aunt's house but found that you weren't able to drive the expected speeds on all roads because of crippling by the rental company, would you sue? would you rent from them again? would you complain to the appropriate regulatory agency?
    Try a different car analogy: If you took a toll road, and suddenly you encountered a traffic jam, would you ask for your money back? No, you'd just blame it on bad luck.

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