ISP: We Can’t Stop Illegal File Sharing

By Josh Catone
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A Belgian ISP, SA Scarlet, has told a court in the country that it cannot feasibly stop illegal file sharing following a 2007 court order that it must block or filter copyright infringing files from being traded on its network. The ISP tried both slowing P2P traffic and filtering it before eventually coming to the conclusion that the court’s demand was unworkable.

For every day that Scarlet doesn’t filter or remove illegal P2P traffic from its network, the company has to pay 2,500 Euros in compensation according to the 2007 court verdict, reports TorrentFreak. That makes convincing the court that filtering all illegal content is infeasible an important proposition from the company.

ZDNet in Belgium reports that Scarlet has refused to block all P2P traffic, since that would negatively affect legitimate traffic as well as copyright infringing file sharing. Initially, Scarlet attempted to slow peer-to-peer traffic on its network, but all that did was lead to customer complaints. Illegal files were still widely available, it just took longer get them.

Next, the ISP attempted to filter out illegal traffic using software from Audible Magic, after being ordered to do so by a court appointed P2P “expert.” However, according to Scarlet, the software didn’t actually work and failed to filter illegal files.

According to TorrentFreak, Scarlet’s initial response to the 2007 ruling was to make the claim that filtering P2P traffic would be illegal under Belgian law, which the ISP says doesn’t allow it to spy on customers.

Clearly, filtering and traffic throttling don’t work and really just end up aggravating customers. The better solution for copyright groups, such as SABAM in Belgium, or the RIAA, MPAA, and ASCAP, and for content publishers would be address the underlying reasons why people pirate content. As we reported in August, some of those reasons include high cost (people want to pay less), poor quality (people only want to pay for high quality products), DRM (people don’t want it), and ease of distribution (P2P is easier than going to a store). You can’t litigate solutions to any of those issues.

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