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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    Angry Vispa blocking Peer-to-Peer Traffic

    In the last week or so, Vispa has started blocking the common ports for Bittorrent and (i believe) several other p2p protocols.

    As a Vispa customer, I feel this is totally unacceptable. If they have issues with an individual user (be they traffic volume or piracy) they should contact them directly NOT attempt to block protocols en-masse for all users. Bittorrent especially is a very useful tool for distributing legitimate content, for example Linux distros and the recent XP SP2.

    Does anyone else have experience of other ISPs adopting this approach?

    After reading several recommendations on this site I had high hopes when I joined Vispa. My experience however has been poor and I would not recommend them to anyone else.

    Can anyone recommend an ISP that would be an good alternative, unlikey to take such a high handed approach in the future?

    I'm thinking of returning an old school ISP like PIPEX or my favourite ISP of umpteen years ago Demon.

  2. #2

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    I find it strange for them to block ports without informing the user a number of days in advance. Are you totaly sure its not your router/modem? remembver this is technology were talking about, it has a habbit of changing settings all by itself. Have you tried contactting VISPA?

    Ben

  3. #3

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    I suggest you get in touch directly with support at Vispa on 08701 624 888 for a possible workaround.
    Pete

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Cortez, please update us on what happens.
    Richard

  5. #5

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    I would like to pick up a few points, as this post is well off the mark in many areas, but understandable which I fully accept.

    I can confirm that at present vispa is conducting a semi (note: not everything) block on some P2P networks while we conduct some research (which has provided quite disturbing at present). It's not planned to remain in place, but continue reading and I think you will understand why we have had to do this.

    This measure has come about due to possible heavy legal action against vispa for allowing downloading to continue. This started from dozens of reports every single day, which grew to over a hundred or so a week or reports of Copyright Infringement.

    At first we warned users by giving them a call, gave them a slap wrist, and asked them to remove software which had basically got them in trouble. However the situation has got to a point that we can't maintain this level of personal treatment, especially due to increased warnings.

    Therefore to give vispa breathing space from the legal letters that have hit our desks, we are looking at a possible reverse solution to this problem. Blocking by default, and then if a user wishes to use P2P, then have to request access. This will, via some sort of legal agreement that takes to legal stance off vispa and places any wrong-doings directly on the End User. Of course we will explain all the risks etc at this point. We believe this is the safe solution for all parties.

    Don't get us wrong, we like everyone know the benefits of P2P, it's approach to push small music artists, upstart software companies etc, but the true fact is that 90% of material belongs to someone else. Smaller ISPs are a perfect test legal case, we don't have the in-house legal teams or the experience/resources to put up a fair fight, and it's for this reason why the likes of vispa are getting targetted, the big boys have done the research.

    Bandwidth does not come into play at all, we have plenty of spare capacity across our centrals as well as core transit. Though I would like to point out that no where do we state we are an unlimited service. Every Broadband user needs to remember, regardless of ISP that services are contended between 50:1 or 20:1 users, sitting on high resources service 24/7 is totally unfair on others. I could put it as a little rude to have this type of mindset.

    Also at no point have we changed our terms and conditions, the last update to these was 14/02/2004 which covers all points addressed above. They quite clearly do state that we can make measures to protect ourselves and the customers.

    In terms of contract termination, this falls to one of the directors of the company, but generally myself to review. I am a little bemused about the claim we won't let this person in question out of contract as I have had no such requests in weeks. I have always been a very fair chap, and review everything given to me, but I can't review thin air :/

    PS: I won't got into ISP comparisons as that's not fair on the other ISPs. However each on the list have benefits and failures, the same with any market/service sector industry.

    Martin Pitt
    Vispa Internet Limited
    Martin Pitt
    Company Founder

    Aquiss Limited
    Up to 24 Meg Unlimited Broadband, Hosting and Security
    http://www.aquiss.net/


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
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    well no offense martin but did you not even let your faithfull customers know???

    even though its in the t&c's dont you think it would have been decient to send a email to all users? it is free isnt it????

    also why is vispa the only isp who ever has problems with record industries etc? there are other medium sized isps out there but no mention of it yet? it seem funny they only target vispa? maybe its due to the users but if you would imagine say aol, wanadont and other large isps would be in the same problem?

    i for one hate people who use the internet for the wrong reasons as i work in the music industry itself (on a part time, little profit, uk hardcore production) and agree that something must be done but it woulda been nice to let your customers know :/
    Nildram 8Mbit Maxadsl

  7. #7

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    All companies have it in the Terms and Conditions that they can ammend them. NTL did when they slipped the 1gig AUP in over 12 months ago, they didn't tell any customers.. But customers of NTL are saying that P2P ports are blocked yet unlike Vispa, NTL have not commented on this.
    Kits
    My present ISP Aquiss.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    Martin,

    Thanks for you repy.

    I'd like to pick up on a few points however.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vispa
    I can confirm that at present vispa is conducting a semi (note: not everything) block on some P2P networks while we conduct some research (which has provided quite disturbing at present). It's not planned to remain in place, but continue reading and I think you will understand why we have had to do this.
    I spoke with customer service early last week and their response was that it was only a temporary measure and would be unblocked that evening. Still waiting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vispa
    This measure has come about due to possible heavy legal action against vispa for allowing downloading to continue. This started from dozens of reports every single day, which grew to over a hundred or so a week or reports of Copyright Infringement.

    At first we warned users by giving them a call, gave them a slap wrist, and asked them to remove software which had basically got them in trouble. However the situation has got to a point that we can't maintain this level of personal treatment, especially due to increased warnings.

    Therefore to give vispa breathing space from the legal letters that have hit our desks, we are looking at a possible reverse solution to this problem. Blocking by default, and then if a user wishes to use P2P, then have to request access. This will, via some sort of legal agreement that takes to legal stance off vispa and places any wrong-doings directly on the End User. Of course we will explain all the risks etc at this point. We believe this is the safe solution for all parties.
    IANAL however it is my understanding that ISPs cannot be held responsible for the abuses of their customers unless are made aware of the situation and refuse to act. In fact the Vispa T&C's very reasonably make it clear that you do not examine traffic from users and therefore you will not be held responsible:-

    T&C Section 15.1
    You acknowledge that Vispa has no control over the information transmitted via the Service and that Vispa does not examine the use to which you put the service or the nature of the information you are sending or receiving. Vispa hereby excludes all liability of any kind for the transmission or reception of information of whatever nature;

    Quote Originally Posted by Vispa
    Smaller ISPs are a perfect test legal case, we don't have the in-house legal teams or the experience/resources to put up a fair fight, and it's for this reason why the likes of vispa are getting targetted, the big boys have done the research.
    Are you saying that if you use P2P don't use VISPA or any other small ISP go for one of the big boys? The more I think on this the more it sounds like good advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vispa
    Though I would like to point out that no where do we state we are an unlimited service. Every Broadband user needs to remember, regardless of ISP that services are contended between 50:1 or 20:1 users, sitting on high resources service 24/7 is totally unfair on others. I could put it as a little rude to have this type of mindset.
    Agreed. In general I feel users that pull exceptional bandwidth should be capped or moved onto a more expensive lower contention package. I have noticed that your current T&Cs have very explicit fair use guidelines for dial-up customers but none for broadband. Maybe the situation needs to be clarified somewhat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vispa
    Also at no point have we changed our terms and conditions, the last update to these was 14/02/2004 which covers all points addressed above. They quite clearly do state that we can make measures to protect ourselves and the customers.
    Not sure I entirely agree here, Section 7 of your T&C's relates to fair use and allow you to take "measures" in relation of "congestion control" rather than "copyright" infringement. However you argue that it is a copyright issue not bandwidth usage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vispa
    In terms of contract termination, this falls to one of the directors of the company, but generally myself to review. I am a little bemused about the claim we won't let this person in question out of contract as I have had no such requests in weeks. I have always been a very fair chap, and review everything given to me, but I can't review thin air :/
    I'm not sure where this one came from. I never claimed that I had contacted Vispa to terminate the contract. Admittedly I was wondering what you attitude would be but is as far as it has gone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vispa
    PS: I won't got into ISP comparisons as that's not fair on the other ISPs. However each on the list have benefits and failures, the same with any market/service sector industry.
    Wouldn't expect you to. However based on you comment above protection from P2P shutdown and/or threat of lawsuits would be best achieved at one of the larger ISPs.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vispa
    Therefore to give vispa breathing space from the legal letters that have hit our desks, we are looking at a possible reverse solution to this problem. Blocking by default, and then if a user wishes to use P2P, then have to request access. This will, via some sort of legal agreement that takes to legal stance off vispa and places any wrong-doings directly on the End User. Of course we will explain all the risks etc at this point. We believe this is the safe solution for all parties.
    This for me is the key statement - if a user still wants to use p2p, they can and all they need to do is approach support and the block is lifted. In essence, it shifts the liability question back to the user who should also be aware of the copyrighted material they're holding on their machines.

    Plus, if you're sharing non-copyrighted material you've got nothing to worry about.

    As for the big companies not having problems - that may be the case but for how long? Maybe, Vispa have just been unlucky in being targeted - but I know from conversations I have had with Martin in the past, this problem has been growing for several months and has not just happened.
    Pete

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    IANAL, but I can't really see how Vispa can be held responsible for what users do over the network anymore than British Telecom is at fault because a criminal planned a crime using the phone - as long as a credible effort is made to police users I don't comprehend how the ISP can be to blame.

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