ISPs assist in cutting off file-sharing users

Becky waring By Becky Waring

Internet service providers are cooperating more and more with copyright holders to crack down on illegal downloading and peer-to-peer file-sharing.

Some of the changes are due to strict new piracy laws, but others appear to arise from sheer self-interest on the ISPs’ part.

Somali pirates aren’t the only ones making headlines recently. The widely publicized Pirate Bay verdict in Sweden has sent a chill down the spines of BitTorrent freaks worldwide and cast a spotlight on the intensifying battle against illegal downloaders.

In addition to helping convict the Pirate Bay operators, Sweden’s new Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) allows courts to order ISPs in that country to reveal to copyright holders the names of anyone suspected of sharing files illegally. The copyright holders can then use the information to sue or collect damages. Immediately after the law went into effect last month, Internet usage in Sweden dropped by 30%.

While most ISPs in the U.S. and other countries will release information about subscribers only when presented with a court order, these ISPs may not be displeased by the increased pressure being placed on file-sharing networks. Reducing peer-to-peer traffic by the threat of legal action would help unclog the ISPs’ networks and free up some of their bandwidth.

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Becky Waring

About Becky Waring

Becky Waring has worked as a writer and editor for CNET, ZDNET, Technology Review, Upside Magazine, and many other news sources. She alternates the Best Software column with Windows Secrets contributing editor Scott Spanbauer.