The BBC has weighed in on recent copyright and piracy talks, suggesting that Internet service providers should monitor network traffic and automatically be suspicious of customers using a VPN while consuming large amounts of bandwidth- assuming that all VPN users are pirates.
In a submission to the Australian government, the BBC proposed a co-operative scheme between copyright holders and ISPs to “reduce and eliminate” online piracy. In addition, the broadcaster wants to educate consumers on where to find content legally, while also supporting improved availability of official offerings.
The BBC wants ISPs to implement a notification system but also dish out serious sanctions to persistent downloaders:
“ISPs should warn any alleged copyright infringers through a graduated notification system that what they are doing is illegal and, at the same time, educate them about the law, the importance of copyright to funding content and services they enjoy and where they can access the material they want legally. However. if the consumers do not abide by the notifications then more serious action may need to be taken.”
Educating consumers and pushing for better availability of content sounds all well and good, but the notification and sanction system that The BBC proposed wouldn’t work well if ISPs were to assume that all VPN users are pirates- which is exactly what the company wants providers to do.
“Since the evolution of peer-to-peer software protocols to incorporate decentralized architectures, which has allowed users to download content from numerous host computers, the detection and prosecution of copyright violations has become a complex task.”
“This situation is further amplified by the adoption of virtual private networks (VPNs) and proxy servers by some users, allowing them to circumvent geo-blocking technologies and further evade detection.”
The BBC goes on to state that it is “reasonable” for ISPs to be placed under an obligation to monitor the network traffic of its customers and make note of any activity that could be deemed “suspicious” including the use of IP masking tools in conjunction with large download volumes.
The problem with this is that it would tar all heavy bandwidth and VPN users with the same brush. Some VPN users may subscribe to Netflix every month and binge watch HD TV shows, which can use up to 2.1GB of data per hour. Other VPN users may be downloading a few games on Steam, or playing a lot of multiplayer titles, all things that would consume lots of bandwidth while still being legal.
So far, these methods have only been proposed to the Australian government, but its possible that other countries will seek proposals from media companies in an effort to come up with an effective anti-piracy plan.
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KitGuru Says: I use a VPN service fairly regularly for purely legal means. Some VPN users likely are pirates but its not fair to suspect all consumers- using up large amounts of bandwidth shouldn’t automatically point to piracy. If this proposal were to be accepted then we could see VPNs outlawed in Australia, a trend that could spread to other countries if successful. Do any of you guys use a VPN service? Do you think its fair to assume that all VPN and large bandwidth users are pirates?