UK ISPs Begin Crackdown on Suspected Torrenters


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In an effort to crackdown on online piracy, internet service providers (ISPs) are to start sending letters to users suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted materials this month, ISPReview has confirmed. BT, Sky, Virgin Media, and TalkTalk have all signed up to the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme, with a component of Creative Content UK, an initiative designed to combat piracy in a benign manner.

This is how it works: third-party companies collect data on IP addresses illegally downloading copyrighted material via peer-to-peer (P2P). These IP addresses are then shared with ISPs. If an ISP can link an IP address with one of its users, it will issue a warning letter to the related user. Torrenters that use Socks5 proxies, though, should be safe, assuming there’s no IP leak.

A spokesperson for Virgin Media explained the process in more detail:

“ISPs will not carry out any monitoring of their subscribers’ activity. Right holders will not have access to any personal information about alleged infringers. Right holders will merely flag to participating ISPs individual IP addresses (in “Copyright Infringement Reports” – or CIRs) that have been detected and verified where those IP addresses have been used to upload and share infringing content using ISPs’ networks. Rights holders will do this by using proven electronic scanning technologies which will be searching publicly available information.

No CIR will be sent to an ISP until it has been confirmed by the right holders that copyright infringement has taken place – and no educational email will be sent to a subscriber until the IP address in the applicable CIR that “triggers” the email can be matched to the correct active subscriber account. The entire programme is fully compliant with applicable laws and regulations including the Data Protection Act 1998 – and with best practices as published by the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office).”

The warnings from ISPs to suspected pirates are just that and will not be “speculative invoicing,” i.e. settlement letters demanding money to prevent further legal action. It is not yet known whether ISPs will have any further power to back up its warning letters – a plan for ISPs to be able to disable internet access for users who ignored piracy warnings was recently abandoned although this has happened in the past, (KC Communications in Hull, BT owned, have previously disconnected peoples home internet during recent years when subscribers traffic has been monitored and found to be downloading infringing content) – Naughty Naughty BT…


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