Monday, May 31, 2010

Ofcom: ISPs Need to Reduce Online Copyright Infringement - How?

The UK communication regulator, Ofcom, published a "A proposed code of practice which implements legislative measures aimed at reducing online copyright infringement" (here).

Ofcom expects that implementation, by "fixed-line ISPs with over 400,000 subscribers (i.e. BT, Talk Talk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange, O2 and Post Office)" will come into force in early 2011.

The proposed practice is as follows:
  • The code also sets out the threshold for including subscribers on a copyright infringers list which must be compiled by ISPs.
  • ISPs will have to record the number of notifications sent to their subscribers and maintain an anonymised list of alleged serial copyright infringers.
  • Copyright holders can then request information on this list and pursue a court order to identify serial infringers and take legal action against them.
  • Ofcom is proposing a three stage notification process for ISPs to inform subscribers of copyright infringements and proposes that subscribers which have received three notifications within a year may be included in a list requested by a copyright owner.

The idea of "3-strikes" is not new (see reference for France, AustraliaItaly, South Korea, Taiwan) - but so far 3rd strike meant a "red card" - a disconnection of the subscriber. Now, Ofcom takes a different approach of forwarding the subscriber information to the copyright holders for legal action.
Copyright infringements are, for many people, synonymous with P2P file sharing (using applications such as Emule or BitTitrrent). However, there are many ways to transfer files, and not all uploads or downloads in P2P networks are of copyright protected media (video or music).

The technical challenge is to detect whether a certain transfer of data contains copyrighted material. There are a number of aspects here - the identification process and the ability to perform under the traffic volumes that are typical to the large ISP networks with a reasonable cost. If the identification device is deployed with a DPI device, the latter can steer only the relevant traffic (P2P, for example) so the identification device could focus on relevant traffic only and reduce the implementation cost.
Technologies from Audible Magic and Detica promise to identify copyright infringements. See "Virgin Media to trial filesharing monitoring system" - here.
According to Audible Magic, their solution - "identify the works themselves in any electronic form, regardless of file format or compression. Registered music, video, games and software can be identified without requiring any watermarking or digital rights management (DRM) schemes."
Related post - "DPI Deployments - Part4: UK - Everybody is Doing it !" - here

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