ISPreview - To Ban or Not to Ban (Illegal File Sharers)
To Ban or Not to Ban (Illegal File Sharers)
By: Mark Jackson - Mar 11th, 2008 : Page 1 -of- 7
"This is a far cry from the Internet of eight years ago, where slow dialup connections dominated and online software piracy was hidden away"

It occurs to me that I haven’t yet managed to see the movie “There Will Be Blood” ™, it’s a dramatic film, the type I usually love, and up for several nominations at this years Oscar awards in the USA. Unfortunately household bills take priority over visits to the cinema and I’ve found myself pondering over how easy it would be to locate and download the same film online without paying. Turns out it’s very easy, perhaps too easy.

In fact most of the time you’re just a search engine phrase away from locating thousands upon thousands of illegally downloadable BitTorrent (P2P, Peer-2-Peer File Sharing program) film copies:


Fig.1 - Example of P2P torrent download files

The ease at which this can be done is shocking but what would really happen if I chose to continue and pursue the download? Sure it’s breaking the law, no ifs and definitely no buts, it is illegal – the end, but could anybody catch me doing it? The sad answer, especially if you’re a copyright holder, is probably not.

It is a shocking but not unexpected conclusion and has been responsible for driving a deep wedge of disagreement between the music industry and Internet service providers. Now, thanks to government support, the industry appears to be getting its way. ISPreview investigates whether or not the recent proposals, which could see some users being banned from their ISP, are workable.

Why do people do it?

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) estimates that 6 million Brits regularly use P2P networks to download music unlawfully and it’s not hard to see why. The content is freely accessible, often comes in high quality forms and you’re about as likely to get caught doing it as Elvis is to be found alive.

To make matters worse, the growing dominance of broadband has given everybody access to speedier connections, which makes downloading large quantities of data in a short period of time practically effortless. This is a far cry from the Internet of eight years ago, where slow dialup connections dominated and online software piracy was hidden away in the unsavoury depths of binary Newsgroups and Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

Then there is the continued problem of differing air dates between countries, where films and TV shows can be released weeks and sometimes even months ahead of the UK. Though by no means an excuse to engage in illegal activity, staggered release schedules do offer additional encouragement.

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