Japan’s four big ISP organisations have taken a logical step toward controlling file-sharing: flagrant violators will be warned via email and then disconnected, the Yomiuri Shimbun says. Although this practice will horrify the content-should-be-free community, it’s actually a far more sensible approach than, say, the RIAA’s suing sharers. It is also, presumably, a smart step for ISPs struggling to control the exploding use of bandwidth.
The Japan approach will involve cooperation between copyright organisations, who will monitor file-sharing using “special detection software” (uh oh) and ISPs: The copyright organisations will notify the ISPs when they detect the IP address of a flagrant violator, and the ISPs will then warn the subscriber and, if the activity continues, cut him or her off for a period of time (or forever).
According to TorrentFreak, similar proposals are under consideration in France, the UK, and Australia. Could it happen here? Should it?
Privacy advocates would likely seize on the “special detection software” as a violation of privacy rights, and ISPs and copyright holders would be trashed from one end of the blogosphere to another. But, again, this approach makes a lot more sense than branding file-sharers as thieves, and it would also have the backing of not just the music and film industries but the major ISPs.
The US ISPs are scrambling to find ways to control rampant bandwidth usage, with Time Warner experimenting with tiered pricing and Comcast in hot water for allegedly blocking BitTorrent users. A broad-based flie-sharers-get-unplugged agreement would give ISPs political and PR cover to do what they want to do anyway, and unplugging the top 5% of bandwidth hogs would probably help their bottom lines.
Should US ISPs unplug file sharers? Look forward to hearing your thoughts.