BBC: Heavy VPN And Proxy Users Are Most Likely Infringing Copyright

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BBC tells Australian government that ISPs should monitor for suspicious activity

Users of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and proxies who download vast amounts of data are likely to be pirating copyrighted content, according to the BBC’s commercial arm.

BBC Worldwide told an ongoing Australian government consultation on the issue of online piracy that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be subjected to minimum levels of action in policing the internet and should monitor suspicious behaviour.

VPN targets

BBC Broadcasting House“Since the evolution of peer-to-peer software protocols to incorporate decentralised architectures, which has allowed users to download content from numerous host computers, the detection and prosecution of copyright violations has become a complex task,” said BBC Worldwide. “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 organisation claimed copyright infringement causes it “immeasurable economic damage” and hampers its ability to invest in content and services. It cited the recent leak of Doctor Who materials as an example of this.

“Despite the BBC dedicating considerable resources to taking down and blocking access to these Doctor Who materials, there were almost 13,000 download attempts of these materials from Australian IP addresses in the period between their unauthorised access and the expiration of the usual catch-up windows,” it said.

Gradual warning

The BBC proposes a gradual warning system for alleged pirates which would include both enforcement and education measures. ISPs would be required to send notifications if a customer is accused of illegal activity with repeat offenders subject to slower speeds or even a termination of service.

But what if a web user is using a VPN for a legitimate purpose, such as accessing company files and resources? Well, the BBC says its proposed measures would take into account “explanations in order to avoid false positives and to safeguard the fundamental rights of consumers”, but admits more industry discussion and agreement is needed.

The BBC says ISPs should contribute to the cost of its proposed plans because content owners have already invested in ways of curbing piracy and in legal ways of accessing programmes and other materials. The BBC launched an international version of the iPlayer in 2011, allowing users in the US, Australia, Canada and Europe the chance to view a selection of its programming.

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