updated 02:10 pm EST, Fri February 22, 2008
UK ISP Piracy Crackdown
Internet service providers in the UK may have no choice but to impose anti-piracy scans on their networks if they cannot agree to a solution voluntarily, the country's government said today. A strategy document released by British officials warns that the companies must agree with the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) as well as other music and movie producer associations to develop an anti-piracy agreement that will curb illegal sharing at the carrier level rather than targeting individual users. Without a private agreement, the government may have to impose its own rules mandating such a change in April 2009 to protect the UK's creative industry, the government claims.
The British ultimatum comes after frequent pressure by groups such as the IFPI, which have repeatedly called for international anti-piracy filtering as the only viable method to halt piracy and encourage legal downloads. Internet providers in the UK and elsewhere have typically rejected the notion, arguing that they have the right to "safe harbor" which allows them to serve just as relays for data rather than monitoring what passes over their networks.
Most such copyright enforcement systems use recognition techniques, such as for file size or digital watermarks, to screen for bootlegs versus officially sanctioned downloads from iTunes and other stores.
The potential legal roadblock is unconnected to techniques such as traffic shaping, which are most often used by Comcast and some other Internet providers to lighten the load on their networks from BitTorrents and other network-intensive services that only sometimes include illegal content.