Barry Collins reports:
For Alan Ellis, last week was a good one: he was acquitted of conspiracy to commit fraud. The prosecution had argued that the 26-year-old received at least £190,000 in donations to Oink, his filesharing website. Until Oink was shut down in 2007, it had, the crown claimed, helped 200,000 users illegally to download 21m copyrighted music tracks.
For the anti-piracy lobby, the verdict has been a serious setback, not least because it suggests the law hasn’t kept up with technology that allows the copying and transfer of copyrighted material. Ellis was the first person to be charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in relation to filesharing — though others have been convicted on lesser charges — and the crown was hoping for a conviction to send a strong message to filesharers.
Record labels and film studios claim the sharing of movies and songs by computer users costs them hundreds of millions of pounds. Now, though, new technology is coming to the aid of copyright holders. One of the UK’s largest broadband providers is trialling software it says can spot unauthorised downloaders. This could lead to their disconnection from the internet.
Virgin and Detica insist that DPI is — for now — being used only to measure the level of illegal filesharing, not to snoop on customers. Indeed, they say the key piece of information — the IP address — is ignored in the process. This, of course, doesn’t mean the technology could not target individuals.
Read more in The Times Online.