The Open Rights Group has criticised the programme for spending too long examing the differences of opinion among music makers, and too little time talking about rights — perhaps that’s an inevitable side effect for fronting the programme with Jo Whiley, a Radio One DJ. This probably increased the audience amongst the under-30s who do a great deal of the file sharing; and for whom this may be the first time that they’ve had the bill’s proposals explained to them. So lose some, win some!
The programme had a number of stunts : they slowed down the broadband of a student household (not only was their MP3 going to take 13 weeks to download, they found they couldn’t effectively look at their email). They got a digital forensics expert to look at a family’s computers, finding copies of LimeWire (tricky stuff forensics!) and portraying this as a smoking gun for unlawfulness. The same expert camped outside the student house and piggybacked on their WiFi (apparently by employing a default password on their broadband router to authorise themselves to have access).
You can also see yours truly:
demonstrating an anonymity network (it was in fact Tor, but I’d done a little tweaking to ensure that its standard discouragement of file sharing activity didn’t have any impact) : and showing that a Bit Torrent tracker stopped recording me as being in Cambridge, but placed me at the Tor exit node in Germany instead.
I argued that as soon as large numbers of people were getting in trouble for file sharing because they were traceable — then they wouldn’t stop file sharing, but they would stop being traceable.
All in all, within the limitations of a 30-minute prime-time main-channel show, I think the Panorama team provided a good introduction to a complex topic. You can judge for yourself (from within the UK) for the next 7 days on the BBC iPlayer, or in three parts on YouTube (I’m two minutes into part 3, at least until a web blocking injunction bars your access to what might well be an infringement of copyright).