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UK ISP Spots a File-Sharing Loophole, Implements It

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the this-way-round dept.

The Internet 179

An anonymous reader writes "As well as taking an active part in OFCOM's code of obligations in regards to the ill-conceived Digital Economy Act (the UK three-strikes law for filesharers), niche ISP Andrews & Arnold have identified various loopholes in the law, the main one being that a customer can be classified as a communications provider. They have now implemented measures so in your control panel you may register your legal status and be classed as such." Another of the loopholes this inventive ISP sussed out: "Operating more than one retail arm selling to customers and allowing customers to migrate freely with no change to service between those retail arms, thus bypassing copyright notice counting and any blocking orders."

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179 comments

Lets get rid of it (4, Insightful)

funkatron (912521) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011422)

Vote pirate, or green or yellow or something like that. Anyone who thought that this was a good idea doesn't deserve to win.

Re:Lets get rid of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32011444)

lol pirates, what next?

Who say geeks don't make good lawyers? (4, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011534)

Apparently those running the ISP - presumably geeks - know how to interpret the laws better than those who wrote the laws themselves.

Re:Who say geeks don't make good lawyers? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32011578)

There is only one interpretation of the l;aw that counts, and that's the judge's one. This is espacially true in UK's(and US's) Common Law system.

So, they found loopholes, or so they think. They may be correct, but you will not know until thoose loopholes are tested in a courthouse.

Re:Who say geeks don't make good lawyers? (5, Informative)

amw (636271) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011724)

There is only one interpretation of the l;aw that counts, and that's the judge's one. This is espacially true in UK's(and US's) Common Law system.

Either you or I have misunderstood this particular section of the Digital Economy Act, and the balance of probabilities suggests that it's you. At issue is not the legality of sharing the files - the DEA doesn't deal with that, that's part of pre-existing Copyright acts - but the short-cut that now exists that enables rightsholders to harrass suspected filesharers through their ISP without the need for a court order.

Before the DEA, firms were required to issue a court order to the ISP - a timeconsuming and potentially expensive process if done in bulk - in order to collect enough information to contact the individuals themselves. With the DEA in place, they can simply require the ISP to do their donkey work.

So, they found loopholes, or so they think. They may be correct, but you will not know until thoose loopholes are tested in a courthouse.

The loopholes definitely exist, I've seen the various discussions that led to A&A making the implementations discussed and it is quite clear from the wording of the DEA itself (which, combined with the Telecommunitions Act IIRC, is very specific in its definitions of the parties concerned). The legal route, where the case can be presented in front of a judge, does still exist: it just requires more effort on the part of the rightsholders, and specifically the amount of effort that they should have had to take in the first place before the DEA came into effect.

Re:Who say geeks don't make good lawyers? (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012160)

Before the DEA, firms were required to issue a court order to the ISP - a timeconsuming and potentially expensive process if done in bulk - in order to collect enough information to contact the individuals themselves. With the DEA in place, they can simply require the ISP to do their donkey work.

Require how? There must be some recourse that the copyright holder can take against an ISP that is failing to respond to complaints. Eventually such a recourse could end up in front of a judge, and that's when AAISP might find themselves in hot water.

Re:Who say geeks don't make good lawyers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012462)

The ISP is responding to complaints. Once you switch from A&A1 to A&A2 you are using a new ISP. A&A1 isn't
required to keep your details unless you had 3 strikes and possibly not even then. A&A is following the DEA
entirely. The same goes for the customers registering as a communications provider. The copyright holder
will then have to contact the customer to get them to 'notify' whoever it was but they can simply say they
dont have those records. The only problem I can see there is that as a 'communications provider' the customer
might be required to keep IP/SMS/Email logs (whatever those silly terrorism knee-jerk laws required providers to keep).

Re:Who say geeks don't make good lawyers? (3, Insightful)

amw (636271) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012468)

With the DEA in place, they can simply require the ISP to do their donkey work.

Require how? There must be some recourse that the copyright holder can take against an ISP that is failing to respond to complaints.

By 'require', I was referring to the fact that the DEA allows rightsholders to send their complaints to an ISP, and the ISP is required by law to pass those complaints on and (I think - I've not read it in a while) take further action where they relate to a subscriber of that ISP. AAISP's view is apparently that they can alter the status of their customers away from 'subscriber' to circumvent this requirement.

Eventually such a recourse could end up in front of a judge, and that's when AAISP might find themselves in hot water.

They seem to believe otherwise. It is quite possible (I'm not going to say 'likely', these things are notoriously difficult to predict) that the judge will view the legal definitions as strictly as they are written, and AAISP can be shown to be in the right legally. At which point, court orders again become a requirement in order for the holders to contact the potential infringers directly.

None of this is directly aimed at taking the legal system out of the loop when it comes to copyright infringment. That is still something that can be put before a judge in a court of law. AAISP are, it seems, simply applying a large 'RESET' button that puts things back to how they were before this section of the DEA was put into law.

Re:Who say geeks don't make good lawyers? (1)

grahamm (8844) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012668)

For many of AAISP's customers, there is a much simpler way that the rights holders could contact the potential infringer directly. AAISP only supply fixed static IP (both IPv4 & IPv6) addresses to customers and a whois on these addresses identify the customer. Of course, if the customer is a private individual, the privacy laws allow him to suppress much of the personal details from the whois record. So rather than needing a court order, all the rights holder has to do is issue a whois query on the alleged offending IP address.

Re:Who say geeks don't make good lawyers? (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012846)

The effect seems to be positive nonetheless. According to their page, communications providers don't really need to bother looking at infringement reports. Classify yourself as one and AAISP won't care about your infringement reports directed to them. You, equally, don't have to care about your infringement reports directed to yourself; after all you're a communications provider, not a subscriber.
If whomever is sending out the reports is serious, they can still go the legal route. They could do that before (sue John Doe to get your information from the ISP, then sue you) and still can (sue you directly). In any case, the whole infringement report business is rendered useless.

Re:Who say geeks don't make good lawyers? (2, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011948)

Well I'd say that the biggest flaw is not the loopholes, it's the fact that in the end the copyright holder still has to sue the individual they suspect of copyright infringement. As yet the idea that a screenshot and IP address are enough evidence is an entirely untested one.

There are also the human rights issues. If someone in a household does download something and gets the internet connection cut off, what about the other people who live there? Imaging being a student and not having the internet at home, preventing you from doing your work. Presumably you can't just switch ISP to get the connection back, unless they less that massive hole open too.

Re:Who say geeks don't make good lawyers? (2, Interesting)

Rennt (582550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012020)

Presumably you can't just switch ISP to get the connection back, unless they less that massive hole open too.

Indeed, this is one of the holes they are exploiting: "Operating more than one retail arm selling to customers and allowing customers to migrate freely with no change to service between those retail arms, thus bypassing copyright notice counting and any blocking orders."

Re:Lets get rid of it (5, Insightful)

grantek (979387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011446)

ISPs siding with the public domain is a good step towards having governments listen to someone other than media corporations - hopefully plenty of people flock to this.

Re:Lets get rid of it (1)

e70838 (976799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011902)

Too sad I can not mod this up: score is already 5

This deserve more than 5.

Re:Lets get rid of it (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012016)

How is this "siding with the public domain"? Does this, in any way, increase the number or quality of works in the public domain?

As far as I can see, all this ISP is doing is siding with pirates, their best customers.

Re:Lets get rid of it (1)

cheeseandham (1799020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012106)

Since this ISP charges for bandwidth [aaisp.net.uk] (and quite heavily during the day) and are more expensive than other providers that supply truly unlimited tariffs such as BeThere [bethere.co.uk] , I fail to see how "pirates" can be "their best customers"

Re:Lets get rid of it (1)

joshua (2507) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012194)

They use more bandwidth, and thus get charged more! Simples.

Re:Lets get rid of it (2, Informative)

Snarf You (1285360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012202)

Could it be because this ISP charges for bandwidth (and quite heavily during the day) and are more expensive than other providers that supply truly unlimited tariffs?

Re:Lets get rid of it (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012220)

Pirates are any ISP's best customers. Once a pirate is hooked, then they're not likely to stop or downgrade their internet service. If anything, they'll upgrade their internet service.

If the ISP charges for the bandwidth they use, even better.

Re:Lets get rid of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012390)

Pirates are any ISP's best customers.

Are you kidding? most ISPs HATE pirates, they use all of their available bandwidth causing congestion and ultimately cost for th provider... ISPs favourite customers are old people who pay for a massive package *snigger* but barely use it.

Re:Lets get rid of it (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012486)

Yeah, they're OK, but they're only really prevalent in the low cost plans. Pirates are addicted and enslaved to ISPs for life (barring an uncommonly massive force of will/conscience).

Re:Lets get rid of it (5, Informative)

pstorry (47673) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012248)

Yep, they're not cheap.

But they offer static IPs, in both IPv4 and IPv6. They do decent monitoring of your line, and have excellent tools for reporting your bandwidth usage, uptime and so forth. They can be your domain registrar and offer DNS servers.

With the exception of the bandwidth limits, they're pretty much a geek's dream ISP - pay for good service, get good service.

Heck, you can ask their support staff questions via IRC. You can get SMS alerts when your ADSL line is down.

I have two friends that use A&A. They're very happy with them. Most other people I know are on cheap ADSL providers, Virgin Cable or work for an ISP so have a connection through their employer anyway. I don't really hear complaints from the A&A users or those getting their connection from their employer. But everyone else, myself included, has had issues and not felt the support was good.

And no, I don't work for A&A. I get my internet connection through Virgin's cable service, because I had cable already. And I'm not being paid to say this - A&A don't know me from the proverbial Adam.

But A&A are the first company I'd look at if I had to switch to ADSL. I want their service, despite the costs.

It's not about piracy, this is about service. Many A&A customers host their own webservers at home, for example... Do you want to lose your internet connection just because of a bogus complaint about a webserver only you and a few friends use?

That's probably why they're putting these protections in, more than anything else. Arse covering for their customers. ;-)

Re:Lets get rid of it (1)

jimthehorsegod (1210220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012374)

Um.. Because the pirates use the most bandwidth, therefore pay the most? (And may choose AAISP because of their stance on the DEA, therefore putting up with the price)

Re:Lets get rid of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012542)

I believe you're looking at it the wrong way around...

Any ISP would prefer 50x "web surfing customers" surfing 1Gb a month (or offices buying 1Gb at £4 p/month) rather than 1x "pirate customer" using their 50Gb "off-peak allowance" (or buying another 50Gb for another £4)

Heavy bandwidth customers are not as profitable as low bandwidth customers - particularly when the ISP in question doesn't traffic-manage, but buys more capacity to keep the service running smoothly.

Re:Lets get rid of it (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012150)

The key issue for me is not the copyright law. I don't care if Paramount and other companies want to protect their income stream on the new Star Trek movie.

The issue for me is that these 3-strike laws assign punishment without benefit of trial by jury. And once that precedent is set, then the government can further erode the rights of Englishmen. "You were caught stealing three times. 5 years jail for you." - "But I had no trial." - "Precedent shows we don't need to give you a trial. Take him away!"

Re:Lets get rid of it (3, Insightful)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011482)

I don't know if what I am saying is 100% correct. But people who might vote for Pirate, Green, ect ect. are mostly geeks or people directly involved in this. The problem is that the general population are not very tech savvy or don't care(yet). What is needed now is not voting for these parties(even though it is important, and we should do it), but it's education the general population of the dangers of these laws and how can it affect them. Point is we need advertisement campaign or whatever that might do the trick. Or else we will have an internet dark age. However Kudos for the ISP, good work I say.

Lib Dems (5, Informative)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011556)

I don't know if what I am saying is 100% correct. But people who might vote for Pirate, Green, ect ect. are mostly geeks or people directly involved in this.

True, and it is unfortunate that the "geek" vote is being split so badly. The LibDems are the only one of the three major parties that stood up to this law (voting against it and calling for its repeal). Whether someone's agreement with them on this issue outweighs any disagreements they may have with them on other issues is an open question.

Re:Lib Dems (2, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011642)

I don't know if what I am saying is 100% correct. But people who might vote for Pirate, Green, ect ect. are mostly geeks or people directly involved in this.

True, and it is unfortunate that the "geek" vote is being split so badly. The LibDems are the only one of the three major parties that stood up to this law (voting against it and calling for its repeal). Whether someone's agreement with them on this issue outweighs any disagreements they may have with them on other issues is an open question.

Us Pirates only have 9 out of a possible 650 candidates standing; I doubt we'll have an impact on the Lib-dem vote (hell, as there's no PPUK candidate in my area, I'll be voting Lib-dem).

Re:Lib Dems (3, Interesting)

amw (636271) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011834)

The LibDems are the only one of the three major parties that stood up to this law (voting against it and calling for its repeal).

They also seem the strongest generally when it comes to following common-sense approach to science; evidence-based policy is one phrase I've heard being banded around as well, which after the various allegations of ministers ignoring their own scientific advisors in the past few months is a welcome relief.

However, I'm more than just a geek. When it comes to my vote in a week's time, I also have to consider the pros and cons of each party to all the other aspects of my life: my wife, baby son, job, house, local environment, health, personal and moral beliefs, just to name a few. Being geek-friendly is a positive trait, but there are also areas important to me in which the LibDems are weaker.

Re:Lib Dems (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012378)

Guardian newspaper is running a series on the various parties & their approaches to science. So far: Lib Dems, UKIP (gack!) and the Tories. Check out http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/series/science-policy-general-election, hopefully all the parties will get involved. UKIP responses just friggin' scary! Lib Dems come out pretty convincing, I'd be surprised if any party - other than perhaps the Greens, only viable in one seat - can top their performance.

Re:Lib Dems (2, Interesting)

Grumbleduke (789126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011914)

I think suggesting that the LibDems "stood up" to this is giving them a little more credit than they deserve. They ended up supporting it in the Lords and even adding the controversial web-censoring clause (I know they tried to get it removed, but it was too late then). As it was, only a handful (14?) of LibDem MPs turned up to vote, and even fewer made any sort of speech.

The LibDems seem to want to repeal this mainly due to the method by which it was passed, not for the content; they claim they would "take it off the statue book and replace it with something better" - better for whom? From what I remember of their speeches in the debate, better here may be for copyright owners. This could just mean they want to remove all the loop-holes. I will not be voting LibDem next week - for other reasons as well - because I am certainly not convinced by their "promises" over the Digital Economy Act.

Incidentally, I'm currently taking an OU law course and brought this up at one of my tutorials (a few days after it passed through the Commons) and none of the other 6 people present had even heard of the Act. The general public doesn't know - while there has been plenty of news in our section of reality, it hasn't been getting out into the rest of the country. Of course, once people start getting threatening letters, this could change, but by then it will be too late. Welcome to the British legal system.

Re:Lib Dems (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012204)

I, as a geek, would vote tory. However, as I've tried to explain to the old ladies trying to get me to vote - I can't as I'm not a citizen!

Re:Lib Dems (3, Informative)

DagdaMor (518567) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012356)

You don't have to be a British Citizen to vote in the British Election, any commonwealth country or Irish citizenship will do.

Re:Lib Dems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012574)

EU members too isn't it?

Guess they need a way to prop up the numbers of people bothering to turn up ;)

Re:Lib Dems (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012394)

Even better: the latest pools put the LibDems in a position of either winning or being the king-makers in a split parliement (in fact they might even win the popular vote but get less seats in parliement than other parties thanks to the not-really-democratic system in the UK). This is a huge change since they have consistently been the 3rd party in the UK for 50 years or something like that.

At this point I would change my vote to them if it wasn't for the simple detail that as a non-British EU citizen I don't get to vote for Parliement in the UK (yet strangelly the HMRC is perfectly happy to take my money as taxes).

Re:Lets get rid of it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32011702)

absolutely. lets vote for whoever promises we can have everything for free, and has no fucking clue how the fuck that works in the real world.!!!

How old are you? six?

Re:Lets get rid of it (1)

tdobson (1391501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011814)

Vote pirate

As a Pirate Party candidate for Manchester Gorton, I say, "hear hear"

http://votepirate.org/gorton [votepirate.org]

Re:Lets get rid of it (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011900)

Just make sure you know not to vote for the other pirate party that's standing (ok, in Westminster, not Gorton) with the aptly named Mad Cap'n Tom [madcapntom.co.uk]

Just be glad there's no Ninja or Monkey parties standing in the same constituency! (and yes, you may be surprised to hear there's a facebook page [facebook.com] you can join)

Re:Lets get rid of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32011850)

Just writing to tell ya all, that my vote goes to my local pirat this election.

Re:Lets get rid of it (1, Interesting)

Malc (1751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012232)

Your best bet is to vote Lib-Dem this election, and suck it up until the following election. Then vote Pirate. Assumes though that the Lib-Dems will actually implement a decent form of proportional representation.

That'll work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32011430)

Keep dreaming.

Re:That'll work (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011478)

The second one increases the number of offenses that go without consequence from 2 to 2*[branches of the ISP]
It's the ISP that has to cut off, and they count offenses per branch. So if they transfer you to another branch upon receiving a second notice, you have clean account with the new branch. (and you could have signed away the right to transfer your account like that in the contract)

Of course this won't work with very massive offenders, but suddenly a 3-strikes law becomes a 37-strikes law or something.

Re:That'll work (2, Interesting)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011520)

2*[branches of the ISP]*[Family members/friends/dog]

Also the act says nothing about keeping a count for *ex* subscribers.. so pingponging between two may be enough.

Re:That'll work (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32011546)

There shouldn't be any limits as I'd imagine once you switch to branch #2 then you are no longer a customer of branch #1 and so they can remove your details. Then there is no limit as you can do the reverse just as easily.

I can't believe..... (5, Funny)

cb95amc (99589) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011442)

....that such a well planned and comprehensive peice of legislation would have loopholes. It's almost as if they rushed it through the legislative process, but I'm sure our politicians would never be so careless....

Re:I can't believe..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32011502)

....that such a well planned and comprehensive peice of legislation would have loopholes. It's almost as if they rushed it through the legislative process, but I'm sure our politicians would never be so careless....

Loopholes can be found in just about any legislation

Re:I can't believe..... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32011526)

Poopholes can be found just above any legislation

Re:I can't believe..... (2, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011542)

Yes, but the point is that this was rushed through as part of the "washup" at the end of parliament, so did not have the same level of scrutiny as it would normally do. It's a crass way to handle complex legislation and I'm glad that this ISP has taken the time to go through the details. Well done.

Re:I can't believe..... (5, Interesting)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011596)

It was voted in by about 200 pissed up MPs who had been dragged out of the pub to make sure it passed. Only about 40 actually attended the debate.

Watching it happen was an eye opener to say the least. Any illusions that we have actual representation died that day.

Re:I can't believe..... (2, Funny)

thomst (1640045) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012216)

I'm sure our politicians would never be so careless....

Then you must grow 'em smarter over there than we do over here.

Could we borrow some of your breeding stock?

Re:I can't believe..... (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012974)

Then you must grow 'em smarter over there than we do over here. Could we borrow some of your breeding stock?

Be careful of what you wish for [photochopz.com] .

Re:I can't believe..... (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012664)

Before this copyright infringement was not a indictable offence i.e only a Civil Offence in which the police have no power and had to be made by the Copyright holder directly on the alleged offender, this is still true but now they can on suspicion only get the ISP to punish the alleged offender without a court order and without a hearing ....

The ISP will have to pay for (at least part) of this process, and will lose a customer .... No wonder why they are trying to find loopholes

Well done (3, Insightful)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011470)

I hope that the ISP will earn enough money from this, so that they will be able to defend this when faced legal action.

Are you polish? Time to test that out... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32011562)

Dzien dobre Janek. Janek jest moje brat (sp?) imje tesz i moje tata tesz. Ja nie mowiem tak dobrze po polsku, jak mali dzieczko tutaj, lol, albo ja mowiem i ja rosumiem duze (sp?). Czesc i ja muszem icz do robote teras (sp?).

If you can tell me what I just said in polish above? I'll be surprised (but, with a name like Janek? You must be polish I am guessing (possibly Bialo Russ or Ukrainian, but... my money's on polish!)

From a fellow pole (U.S. Citizen "generation #1" here though, by birth)? Stay cool!

APK

P.S.=> Yes, a "wee bit" off-topic here but what the hell... as Tom Cruise said in Risky Business "sometimes you just have to say 'WTF'..."... apk

Re:Are you polish? Time to test that out... apk (-1, Offtopic)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011884)

Man, you suck at writing polish.

Re:Well done (3, Interesting)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011580)

So, who will be suing them? The Labels cant. The practice of letting users register as communications providers has nothing to do with them or their content. The state? Over a service they provide for their customers? Not happening. Also UK is not us AFAIK. No punitive damages.

Re:Well done (2, Interesting)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012424)

There must be some redress that the labels can take against an ISP that is ignoring the rules. Now you can say "they aren't ignoring the rules", but the only person that can decide whether they are flouting the law or not is a judge.

Re:Well done (2, Insightful)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011632)

That's sort of what I was thinking. Giant corporations can take advantage of loopholes to rip off their customers. Individuals and small businesses can't do that.

Don't see this working (2, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011552)

I see this as something a Judge will strike down as spurious rather than an actual loophole - Judges love to come down harshly on people they think are deliberately trying to circumvent the law.

Re:Don't see this working (2, Interesting)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011608)

If I have wifi hotspot open to the world, nobody can say I'm in any way deliberately skirting the law.

Re:Don't see this working (2, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011620)

An ISP having no customers but plenty of peering communications providers at residential addresses is a deliberate attempt to skirt the law.

Re:Don't see this working (1)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011684)

They have customers, but these customers are providers themselves. And actually, this is the reality. Lots of people run open wifi so friends and relatives and whoever visits with their smart phones and netbooks and ipads and laptops would feel welcome. Specially in private housing areas where leeching neighbors are not that much of a threat.

Re:Don't see this working (2, Interesting)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011928)

Well, if that's the case then all those peering network providers are also attempting to skirt the law.

I could set myself up as a communicatins provider - I've thought of it actually - put a colo server in a datacentre, then offer bandwidth (and web space) to paying customers. But then, why not simply offer payign customers to use my existing bandwidth that I have at home. Its not much, so I can't see many taking my up on my offer, but as I'm offering a niche product that shouldn't be an issue.

Re:Don't see this working (2, Insightful)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012440)

They can say that you are deliberately breaking the rule that says anyone providing communications services must monitor and log the usage of that service.

Re:Don't see this working (4, Insightful)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011616)

They are only circumventing the intended aims of the people who lobbied the law into being.

Regarding the written law itself, they are legitimately following and making use of the provisioned measures. It doesn't sound like they are relying on particularly liberal interpretations of the text, but rather are going off of what it plainly states.

Granted, I don't know a great deal about UK law, but it sounds to me like it's rather more on the legislature want to remove these elements than for judges to sit down and play psychoanalyst of the "offender" and for the legislature simultaneously.

Hmm... (4, Insightful)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011558)

A communications provider is say someone that operates a free Wifi hot-spot and they are immune? And anyone can sign up? O_o Somebody has effectively neutered the entire law. You guys really vote some Pirate party to your parliament to properly put an end to this crap properly tho.

Re:Hmm... (1)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011630)

Except that they are trying to <A href="http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/10/02/28/1432203/UK-Bill-Would-Outlaw-Open-Wi-Fi?from=rss">ban open Wifi too</a>.

Re:Hmm... (2, Informative)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011646)

Oops, link [slashdot.org] . Forgot my preferences were changed ;). Preview fail.

Re:Hmm... (1)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011696)

I think that was the plan, but it seems it didn't fly. Hence the registration.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Philip_the_physicist (1536015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012086)

The passage of text relating to that was being discussed a few months back made it look like using WEP and posting the password on the wall would be enough to get around the restrictions, at least as far as cafes with internet access and so on are concerned.

Re:Hmm... (2, Informative)

tdobson (1391501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011742)

I'm *trying* to get elected!

--Tim Dobson, Pirate Party Candidate, Manchester Gorton

http://votepirate.org/gorton [votepirate.org]
http://amiapirate.org/ [amiapirate.org]

Re:Hmm... (1)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011778)

Too bad I cant vote for you on account of not being the subject of your queen, but good luck.

Re:Hmm... (1)

dontbgay (682790) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011848)

Cosigned. I'd like to see a Pirate Party US movement. It's not like ALL of us enjoy being puppets of those with more money than us. And besides, having a more modern choice would be ideal to my views.

Re:Hmm... (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012028)

Cosigned. I'd like to see a Pirate Party US movement.

There is one: http://www.pirate-party.us/ [pirate-party.us] I believe the problem over there is that, (unlike here in the UK) you need to register your party state by state & they all seem to have different byzantine regulations. Here you only need to register once to cover all of the UK except Northern Ireland where not even the major parties put up candidates because it has a whole politics of it's own due to historical reasons.

From what I've heard it's also harder to get on the ballot over there (here any old person can stump up £500 and be put on the ballot at a general election, or in local elections find 10 friends\family to propose him\her and do it for free).

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012252)

I totally would vote for you, but am in the Sale/Altrincham area :(

Re:Hmm... (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011780)

A communications provider is say someone that operates a free Wifi hot-spot and they are immune?

Doesn't even have to be that. The contract for the line coming into my house is with me. My wife and kids use that line, without a contract with the ISP. How could they do that if I - the contracted individual - wasn't providing them with the service?

Re:Hmm... (3, Interesting)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012416)

That's very interesting indeed; I live alone, but my daughter and her mother live literally across the street, and they share my (secured) wifi connection. I most certainly am providing a service to them, and they don't even live under my roof.

Re:Hmm... (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011908)

You guys really vote some Pirate party to your parliament to properly put an end to this crap properly tho.

If by some fluke we [pirateparty.org.uk] do manage to get one of our 9 candidates [pirateparty.org.uk] elected we'd actually have a real voice this time around as the polls show [ukpollingreport.co.uk] we're heading for a hung Parliament [wikipedia.org]

The good thing about a hung parliament... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012980)

... is that if we do it properly, we won't even need the whole 6460m of rope. We can probably reuse a few nooses.

Re:Hmm... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32011994)

What is funny is that with most decent wireless routers, having a public AP is easy to do too. This way, one can have their own private network that is WPA2-PSK or WPA2-Enterprise secured, but have the bandwidth they are not using open to the public.

Apparently, this provides both plausible deniability, not to mention the carrier status. IANAL, of course.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012142)

Pirates wont get into parliament. The movement has the wrong geography.

Come May, I'm quite stuck. (1)

kiwieater (1799016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011800)

This legislation is wrong, poorly planned, and now it seems the implementation could well make it largely useless. This is a Good Thing.

I'd love to vote with my feet over this in the coming election. However, the lack of substance in the opposition makes this a very difficult thing to do. I fear that a vote for Labour would indicate my support on this matter, and it really isn't the case - I'm disgusted with the manner in which this legislation was rushed through at the end of their term, with no chance for the discussion it deserves.

Torn. :-(

Re:Come May, I'm quite stuck. (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011878)

Not voting at all, OTOH, is equivalent to saying "You know what? I really don't care who gets in - Labour, Tory, LibDem, Monster Raving Loony, whatever"

The Conservatives have a strong set of policies but they also have a history of foaming at the mouth just as badly as Labour. If they take office it's more or less guaranteed they'll come down on the side of whichever claims to have the biggest business interests.

LibDems, OTOH, seem to like the idea of even more taxes and even more bureaucracy... and frankly we're taxed heavily enough as it is, TYVM. Damned either way, IMV.

Re:Come May, I'm quite stuck. (3, Insightful)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012094)

LibDems, OTOH, seem to like the idea of even more taxes and even more bureaucracy... and frankly we're taxed heavily enough as it is, TYVM. Damned either way, IMV.

Whatever you think of their other policies, the Lib-dems are the only ones proposing PR, vote for them at this election, so that another party that you*do* support can get MPs next time. If we do get PR, watch the Tory party split over Europe, Old Labour split from New Labour and the Lib-dems old Liberal (recently relaunched as the "orange bookers") split from the newer SDP more left wing part. We'd actually get a proper choice!

Re:Come May, I'm quite stuck. (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012696)

Of course they're proposing proportional representation, they've got the most to gain from it.

There is another view which says that you inevitably wind up with watered down legislation which in trying to pander to every party doesn't really solve anything. In essence, a true example of "a compromise is what happens when you come up with an idea that doesn't really suit anyone".

Re:Come May, I'm quite stuck. (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012998)

Of course they're proposing proportional representation, they've got the most to gain from it.

IMO it's also the fairest, most democratic system; I really hope we introduce STV for by the time of the next general election.

There is another view which says that you inevitably wind up with watered down legislation which in trying to pander to every party doesn't really solve anything. In essence, a true example of "a compromise is what happens when you come up with an idea that doesn't really suit anyone".

The examples of many European countries from Germany and Holland to Sweden and Finland and even the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish regional assemblies show this argument to be false. As long as politicians can be grown up about it PR works just fine.

Re:Come May, I'm quite stuck. (1)

heathen_01 (1191043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012870)

How would PR allow me to vote for an Individual to represent me and my constituency in parliment?

Re:Come May, I'm quite stuck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32011882)

Vote LibDem. They actively oppose the DEB and have a good chance of getting a significant number of votes in this particular general election, which in turn may well mean we finally get to implement Proportional Representation instead of the archaic & downright unfair First Past the Post system we have now, which in turn will mean that parties such as the Pirate Party UK will stand a much better chance of getting elected to Parliament in the future.

But these laws are carefully considered (2, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011824)

Surely teams of experts would have been consulted, and this would have been debated several times in several houses, with considerable thought put into the criticisms of those opposing it! The only way we could have all these silly loopholes is if it was somehow rushed. But why would the government ever do that with such important legislation?

Impractical and/or illegal? (5, Interesting)

Grumbleduke (789126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011856)

Just looking through the list, I'm not particularly excited by their loop-holes.

  • Ok, I'll accept that this is quite cunning; however, it is basically just shifting the burden. It means that rather than needing n strikes, you'll need 2n-1 strikes (assuming two people capable of signing the subscriber agreement). They will all still go on the list of alleged infringements and any allegations (from what I remember of the debates; can't find the Hansard quote) stay with you for some time, even if you switch ISP. - Ineffective
  • I'm a little worried by becoming a "communications provider". There are over 400 sections of the Communications Act 2003 [opsi.gov.uk] most of which seems to be aimed at laying down rules and laws for communications providers. I haven't read this Act thoroughly, but I think this will just end up placing a huge burden on the unsubscriber (like the provisions on Data Retention, or registering with the Information Commissioner - that sort of thing). Even then, it could be argued that if you are a communications provider, then you must provide the service to some sort of subscriber (even if it is just you) so then you become the target of all the initial obligations and liable for carrying them out. - Could cause a lot of trouble
  • This hinges on the definition of "allocation". Not sure how well this would hold up in Court (when the ISP is taken to court for not carrying out its obligations). However, it is a good example of what happens when you have an Act "debated" only briefly by people who mostly don't understand the context. - Possible, but might not hold up.
  • Comments to the second point apply here as well. Could work, but will likely be highly problematic for the unsubscriber. Also, this would only apply to some users, not all. - Problematic and limited
  • This was discussed in the Lords (should be quotes somewhere in Hansard) and there was an idea that the copyright notice count should follow you from one ISP to another. It's not explicit in the Act (from what I can see), but could be in the Code. It probably will be now. - Probably covered
  • This seems to hinge on the definition of an ISP. The definition is quite loose, and the three criteria are that they have subscribers (also defined quite loosely), they mainly or entirely provide access to the Internet and allocate IP addresses. The first and third have already been discussed, but the second might work; you'd need to find another primary business for the ISP - i.e. they sell invisible pink unicorns, but you get an Internet connection free with every monthly sale. - Could work
  • Well, this one should be a given. If they receive an invalid notice, they should delete it (or if I get my way, take action against whoever sent it). Of course, what makes it valid will be in the Code. The main criteria would be ensuring the evidence of infringement was up to standards (standards that aren't defined yet) and that whoever sent the notice actually owns the copyright. Both of these could require a lot of effort from the ISP to check. Also, if the ISP doesn't comply with the DEA, under Section 14 (2) they can be fined up to £250,000. This isn't something small ISPs are likely to mess with. Not really a loop-hole

So, while I am impressed that at least one ISP has thoroughly read through the Act and is trying to work against it, I think their loop-holes aren't going to be that good in practice (with the one exception). Still, their draft Code seems to have highlighted many of the key points, and I hope that they will get heavily involved with the Code-drafting process.

The best way to get around this sort of thing is to either fight for repealing the Act (so vote Pirate or Green - while the Lib Dems have said they want to repeal it, that's due to the process by which it was passed, they still seem mostly in favour of the content) or making sure that the Code approved by Ofcom is fair and watertight. I see that this ISP has already produced a draft code but I assume that the BPI, Fact et al will have done so as well - this is where the next fight will be. I am sure most of the opposition groups will be trying to work with Ofcom, (I know that the Pirate Party [pirateparty.org.uk] is diverting some of its attention from the election to this) to point out all the flaws in the Bill and in the copyright industry's suggestions. It is crucial that we get as wide a range of technical expertise involved here - 20,000 letters may not have had any effect on MPs, but that many responses to an Ofcom consultation will certainly be noticed.

Finally, it is worth remembering that the best way to avoid falling afoul of the DEA is to avoid getting caught sharing material that is being hunted for. There are plenty of ways of doing this. Also, to any artists wondering whether or not you should be using this law against people, ask yourself this; do you really care more about defending your copyright (at little or no financial return) than you do about letting people appreciate your art? The motto of MGM is ars gratia artis, or art for art's sake - sometimes I wonder when this became "art for the same of money" (ars gratia divitis, anyone?).

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer (yet). I am a Pirate. I am sad enough to have actually printed out most of the relevant parts of the DEA.

Re:Impractical and/or illegal? (1)

stupid_is (716292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011950)

The motto of MGM is ars gratia artis, or art for art's sake - sometimes I wonder when this became "art for the sa[k]e of money" (ars gratia divitis, anyone?).

This article [guardian.co.uk] might give a hint :-)

I agree with all your points, though - we have a sucky system that gave us this Act (and probably many others) without proper scrutiny

Like you said, YANAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012534)

Get back to us when you're qualified.

Chill Dude

Re:Impractical and/or illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32013016)

I'm a little worried by becoming a "communications provider". There are over 400 sections of the Communications Act 2003 [SNIP] Even then, it could be argued that if you are a communications provider, then you must provide the service to some sort of subscriber (even if it is just you) so then you become the target of all the initial obligations and liable for carrying them out. - Could cause a lot of trouble

Everyone with an internet connected computer is a communication provider. Would you like me to write the trivial AJAX application that proves it?

I provide shell accounts for friends and family via a privately owned colocated internet server. Additionally, there's a handful of people with SSH access to a server behind my home firewall and still others with WLAN access. Frankly, none of that is any of the legislatures business. Those who want to send the stasi around and haul me off to prison -- that would simply be validating my contention.

At least they are trying... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012052)

Disclaimer: I am a happy A&A customer.

At least AAISP are attempting to bring to light the shortcomings of the law, as well as taking part in the OFCOM part of the regulatory process. Believe me that AAISP were also attempting early on to bring attention to this law and lobbying as much as they could themselves.
I've spoken to the owner. He does not believe in supporting pirates, but he does believe in due process and fairness. Things that the DEA is not.(to customers or the ISP's) If a court order is provided AAISP will happily process it, however someone randomly pointing at an IP and saying "they've downloaded something of mine, cut them off unless they can unequivocally prove otherwise" unfairly reverses the burden of proof.

AAISP just wants to be a neutral carrier, operating within the (sane) law and rightly so.

They particularly deserve mention on Slashdot as a geeks ISP. There aren't many ISP's that provide the following...

  • Support native (and tunnelled) IPv6
  • Give you real IPv4 IP's _for free_. If you request a /27 they will _give_ you it
  • Proper technical staff on IRC,email and phone ready to answer questions.
  • Graphing and full control of your line from the web.
  • A real, uncensored, non-traffic managed, non-port blocked line (No IWF watchlist here)

They aren't as cheap as the bucket providers, but then you get what you pay for....

Re:At least they are trying... (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012112)

Between news and your review, it seems as though I've found my next ISP.

Re:At least they are trying... (2, Informative)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012196)

one more thing for A&A is that they offer IPv6 across the board, included in your service for free.

They've always been a more "advanced" ISP in the UK.

Re:At least they are trying... (1)

Fzz (153115) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012852)

Agreed - I've been an AAISP customer for five years now. They're excellent all round, both technically and their service. I've got IPv6 and a /27 static IPv4 subnet. Never see any congestion in their network - pretty much always get the sync rate (minus the headers, etc).

What I really appreciate is their "no-bull$hit" service. As with any network, occasionally things will go wrong - not very often - but when they do, they're always very upfront with frequent status update. You always know where you stand with them. One time I spotted a routing loop - so nice to be able to send them a traceroute, and have someone clueful respond immediately.

As others have said, they're not cheap. But you do get what you pay for.

hi (0, Offtopic)

onlinecomputer (1799642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32012276)

This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best blogger I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article. JANICE NOBLER [coconut7.com]

Remember, the artist gets just 5% of the take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012362)

This is not about artists. It is about big business. The labels, the distributors and the retailers, all of which take a larger share of the money you pay than does the artist sitting at the end of the chain.

In the UK, the situation is even worse. Who can say that it is fair that the government should take 17.5% of the paid price while the artist whose work it is gets less than a third of that.

The government works with industry to screw the people. Sadly that won't change under a Conservative or Liberal government.

A&A (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012436)

I knew before I read the summary it would be A&A, I've never received better support from any ISP and they seem to work very hard on behalf of their customers. One of my favourite things of theirs is their sarcastic automated responses to BT's ticket system when it aggressively tries to blame problems at their end on the end user's equipment. I'd recommend them to anyone.

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