VPN Users Are Likely Content Pirates, BBC Says

Rhett Pardon

SYDNEY — Heavy users of VPNs are so suspicious that ISPs should consider them as content pirates, according to a new study made for the Australian government by BBC Worldwide.

BBC made the report about available to help the Australian government decide how the nation should deal with the illegal downloading of content via decentralized peer-to-peer technologies and VPNs.

BBC said that it is "reasonable for ISPs to be placed under an obligation to identify user behavior that is ‘suspicious’ and indicative of a user engaging in conduct that infringes  copyright."

"Such behavior may include the illegitimate use by internet users of IP obfuscation tools in combination with high download volumes," the BBC said.

Once at the forefront of Internet profit-making, the adult entertainment industry has become vulnerable to losses from piracy.

Content thievery is prevalent on the Internet. In fact, many adult entertainment studios’ entire catalogs are available online illegally.

Dominic Ford of anti-piracy organization PornGuardian.com said that finding and tracking down content pirates is tough in light of all the technology, including VPNs, available to them.

"While VPNs have a legitimate use for securely accessing corporate networks in a secure manor, VPNs are used by common pirates to help evade being caught," Ford told XBIZ. "Proxy servers are similar, in that they help mask the actual user."

"The Internet is seemingly rife with tools to aid pirates, with little to no infrastructure-wide tools for helping find and stop them."

The BBC report, one of many the government had sought on how to deal with online piracy, is the result of a request for stakeholders to weigh in on a pending amendment to the nation's Copyright Act.

Besides pointing at VPNs as a source to crack down on, the BBC asked for more consumer education made available and wants ISPs to act as enforcers under some circumstances.

It also calls for Australia to block known sources of pirated material hosted offshore and for the all of the nation's ISPs to adopt the same copyright protection code.

BBC also said there should be a formal appeal mechanism for suspected pirates.

“It is important that consumers have a right of review or appeal in the event their rights are affected under any new scheme," the report said. "Consumers should have an available mechanism to challenge what are perceived to be unfair, or incorrect, ‘warnings’ issued by an ISP if a consumer is identified as having infringed copyright.”

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