BBC tells Australian govt to treat VPN users as pirates


But… we already get to watch Doctor Who at the time it airs in the UK! ABC has been playing the episode at some ridiculous time of a Sunday morning, and then hosting it on ABC iView to be accessed, for free, at any time for several days after.

I agree that more international content available AT THE SAME TIME as airing in the US or UK would be awesome, but Doctor Who is not a good example, because we even beat the US to this one!

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[quote=“editormum75, post:2, topic:40801”]
I agree that more international content available AT THE SAME TIME as airing in the US or UK would be awesome,[/quote]

That’d be great. :smiley:

Given Australian TV’s previous form, I still don’t entirely trust them not to fuck up TV series. They are getting better, though. And there was a nice strap-line on a trailer for the new season of South Park on SBS - “We download it so you don’t have to!”

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“… that the families of people accused of watching TV the wrong way should be disconnected from the Internet.”

There’s a wrong way to watch television? tries to imagine it
Ow! I think I broke something


This is why most Australian’s don’t give a toss about copyright law, at least as far as TV goes.


Three letters: SSH.

Its a perfectly legal and legitimate application for remote server administration. It is 100% encrypted. You can tunnel anything you want within this encrypted channel, including (for instance) an openvpn connection.

Obviously people using “for hire” “VPN” services might be detectable, but you aren’t going to detect people sshing to or from their own private servers.

Sorry, the Internet is meant to break down geographic barriers - where someone is DOES NOT and SHOULD NOT matter. BBC’s failing means of restriction where people can be to view its site be damned.


Is this a new thing, or in the beeb’s blood? They do come from a country where they are presumptively entitled to a fee for any device with a TV tuner, without any particular need to demonstrate what the tuner is being used to watch…

Coming from that background, their current proposal looks practically liberal.


Earlier today I had a virtual meeting to demo some software we are developing. This included logging onto our VPN and watching video and screencasts from our Australian client. For every instance of “pirates, pirates!”, I suspect there is a hundred-fold instances of legitimate use. Seriously, screw these myopic people and their limited understanding of what the Internet is and does.


In England, fully 10% of all magistrate court cases (the lowest criminal court) are the BBC bringing private prosecutions under criminal law, prosecuting private citizens for allegedly watching TV without a license. About 200,000 people a year are summonsed to court. We eventually put about 50 people a year in jail for contempt of court related to television offences at the behest of the BBC.

This results in sublimely absurd letters from the ‘customer service’ division of the BBC; variously threatening to search your house for unlicensed televisions, a combined “guilty plea & license fee application form” whereby your application for a TV license contains a section which is a court-admissible signed confession that you were guilty of the criminal act of unlicensed TV watching prior to your application, and you proffer the license fee in the hope that the BBC in their great magnanimousity will drop the charges against you.

tl;dr Fuck the BBC’s views on copyright


Dr Who is broadcast in standard-def on ABC. It is available as video on demand via ABC iview at an even lower resolution.
High-def broadcasting in Oz is frustratingly rare so there will still be people looking for quality through VPN to avoid geo-blocking. This is not the same category of behaviour as pirating and shouldn’t be illegal.
Years ago I bought The Sopranos DVDs from the US rather than the Oz version because the US version was 16:9 with commentary vs. 4:3 without. Same type of behaviour as now really and it wasn’t illegal then.

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Back in the 1990s, VPNs were still research tech and part of the crypto rights civil liberties movement and a cypherpunky thing to work on.

By the early 2000s, VPNs were a tool I used to telecommute to work. Now that it’s the mid-2010s, my phone has several different flavors of VPNs that it uses for different applications, as well as my laptop having them.

If the Beeb wants to start calling VPN users “pirates”, then a couple of large US phone companies are going to start saying things about “Yarr!” at them**, plus we’re going to have to bill them for the petrol our UK and European workers will need to use to start commuting to our US HQ offices.

** (That’s my personal opinion, not the official corporate position of my employers at $DAYJOB)


I found the actual doc (doc download) that they sent to the Aussie Gov’t. They are so incredibly unhelpful. According to them:

It is reasonable for ISPs to be placed under an obligation to identify user behaviour that is ‘suspicious’ and indicative of a user engaging in conduct that infringes copyright. Such behaviour may include the illegitimate use by internet users of IP obfuscation tools in combination with high download volumes. The determination of what an ‘illegitimate’ use of such tools is, and the threshold of what would be considered a ‘high’ download volume over a period of time, would need to take into account legitimate explanations in order to avoid false positives and to safeguard the fundamental rights of consumers — such matters would be open to further industry discussion and agreement.

No, that won’t prove to be a problem at all. Gads.

This is what they had to say about other ways to handle the issue.

Other Approaches

9 . Are there alternative measures to reduce online copyright infringement that may be more effective?

Yes, alternate measures do exist, however BBC Worldwide is of the view that the measures proposed by the Government strike a balance between ISPs and rights holders. Any alternative measures would be supplementary to the proposed new regime. At a high level, BBC Worldwide considers it important to provide for a toolkit of enforcement measures, to effectively tackle the different types of online copyright infringement.

They just really, really want some people paying fines.

I have often said the the BBC is one of the worst examples of a company that engenders piracy. They do it in so many ways, and then they whine about it happening over and over again - even though people tell them they’re the ones who need to change.

They really don’t want to change, and I think part of that is what it could mean for the TV License. After all, if British viewers got their media at the same time as international viewers, they’d be losing one of the “home team” benefits. I believe (and have for some time) that their “eek! a pirate!” behavior is all about them trying to capitalize on the international market without losing any funding from home.


Avast! I be required by me employer to use a VPN to work from home, me hearties!


Oooh, sounds like someone who should be paying their ISP for a ‘business’ line.

It’s almost certainly worse than myopia: for every person who simply doesn’t understand the potential, there’s a better paid one who is willing to wait for somebody to develop the potential for them, and then slice it, dice it, and charge extra for it.

Because of the utility of VPNs, including data-heavy ones, I’d be virtually certain that there will be internet connections available where such traffic will be treated with courtesy and an SLA. They…just won’t be the cheap ones. However, everyone loves a little market segmentation, and ‘legitimate’ VPN users are clearly catered to, so what could possibly be wrong, the oh-so-smarmy defenders of the idea will ask…

but you are probably not slurping up gigabuts of data per day.

Fuck the BBC full stop. Their craven toadying to Cameron and his pals has killed off any last respect I had for them.


Any mentions of consumer rights in there?

This phrase makes my head hurt. What does ‘illegitimate use’ even mean (in plain language, as opposed to corporate newspeak)? Are thieves and robbers ‘illegitimate users’ of oxygen? Are getaway drivers ‘illegitimate users’ of petrol?


in a way this reminds me of all of those “municipalities” around st. louis county that rely on fines and court costs for 40% of their funding. wow!

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I should also point out that BBC Worldwide have just launched a channel on Foxtel where most of the BBC’s first-run programming will be shown. (Doctor Who on the FTA ABC is about the only exception to this deal, as far as I know.)

Foxtel is half owned by Murdoch. Strange bedfellows…

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The whole thing is bloomin’ stupid. When I was working in film and television, it was a requirement that connectivity between us (a post-production/VFX studio) and the clients were using over a VPN. We transferred large amounts of data, as you can imagine. And many of those endpoints were sent over public ISPs, not specialist media ISPs like Sohonet. Which is the whole point of VPNs.

Perhaps broadcasters and studios should get their own houses in order when it comes to piracy before they start trying to put the blame on others and having other people and organisations trying to second guess everything.