Mobile web users escape Ofcom file-sharing clampdown

Downloading illegal music from a phone? You've not much to worry about
Downloading illegal music from a phone? You've not much to worry about

Ofcom has announced its plans for illegal file-sharing in the UK today and has opened a loophole for those using a mobile network.

The reason for this seems to be the technology behind the mobile network, rather than those who use it.

In its online infringement document, Ofcom states: "Mobile network operators ("MNOs") assign public IP addresses differently to most fixed ISPs.

"MNOs typically have limited allocations of IP addresses and use those they have in a more dynamic way, sharing them across subscribers. An IP address identified as related to copyright infringement may be in use by multiple individual subscribers at the time of the alleged infringement."

Ofcom also notes that large amounts of file sharing will not be going on through mobile ISPs due to "speed and capacity constraints (eg caps on uploading and downloading), traffic management policies (eg bandwidth throttling at certain times and locations) and pricing relative to fixed".

Small networks

It's not just mobile networks which have been given a reprieve, but smaller ISPs, too. Any ISP with a subscriber base of under 40,000 will not be initially affected by the copyright infringement plans.

What this does mean, though, is that: Orange, Post Office, Sky, TalkTalk Group and Virgin Media users are all affected.

Call us cynical, but this seems to be something of an easy loophole for web pirates to use. We've a feeling that small ISPs are going to get something of a subscriber boost after this announcement.

As long as it doesn't push them over the 40,000 subscriber mark, that is.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.