Industry associations such as the RIAA and IFPI grab most of the anti-piracy headlines in the music world. The UK’s British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has a lower profile, but one which was significantly raised due to its involvement in the shutdown of the OiNK BitTorrent tracker.
Now, according to Silicon, the BPI is teaming up with the IFPI to develop systems to track down unauthorized music sharing on the Internet.
Jollyon Benn, an Internet investigator for the Anti Piracy Unit of the BPI, said that more people than ever are sharing their music collections online because BitTorrent clients are becoming so easy to use. He said: “The latest version of LimeWire includes a BitTorrent client in it and the user interface has got much more friendly. It is opening it up to a lot of people, it all comes down to how easy it is to do these things.”
I’m not sure that the LimeWire implementation of BitTorrent is any easier to use than that of say, uTorrent’s, but it’s certain that the BitTorrent community would only expand when an outfit such as LimeWire introduces its millions of users to the protocol. As more people get introduced to BitTorrent and move away from networks such as Gnutella, the mysterious anti-piracy ‘systems’ being developed by the BPI and IFPI come into play, which in reality are likely to be regular file-sharing clients with enhanced logging abilities.
According to Jollyon Benn, the BPI isn’t deviating away from its earlier position of not going after petty file-sharers, setting an informal threshold of around 200 tracks before chasing the sharer. Instead, Benn says that the BPI will be concentrating on “networks sharing hundreds of thousands of tracks” which immediately throws up some questions. Most BitTorrent trackers are located outside the ‘jurisdiction’ of the BPI, i.e not in the UK. Granted, this didn’t stop them working with the IFPI to shut down OiNK in the Netherlands, but of course they managed to convince the British police that some criminal activity had been taking place on the site, in order to obtain the identity of the administrator, Alan Ellis.
Since the authorities still haven’t found anything to charge Alan with – many months after his initial arrest – one has to wonder if the BPI will be so lucky in getting home address details so quickly in the future.
There certainly aren’t many UK-hosted BitTorrent trackers and the number of British BitTorrent administrators running sites located outside of the UK is unclear, but it’s unlikely there are that many. So as everyone scratches their head thinking of who on earth the BPI are talking about taking down, the battle continues, physically and more often than not, psychologically.