Exetel flooded with Internet piracy notices


news National broadband provider Exetel has published a day by day breakdown of the numbers of copyright infringement notices it has been receiving from content owners such as film and TV studios, with the figures regularly ranging into the hundreds each month, and potentially even beyond a thousand in any given 30 day period.

Copyright infringement notices are a controversial tactic introduced in Australia by the content industry over the past few years in an effort to address perceived high levels of content infringement of top TV shows, movies, music and video games by Australians using peer to peer platforms such as BitTorrent. Most of the larger ISPs do not forward on the notices to customers, viewing them as without strong enough legal basis. This is the issue at the heart of iiNet’s high-profile court defence against the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft.

However, other ISPs have a policy of forwarding the notices on. Exetel in particular has long had such a policy — and will even disconnect users who receive too many notices.
In a blog post on Monday, Exetel’s new chief executive Steve Waddington published a graph (see the bottom of this article) detailing, on a daily basis, how many copyright infringement notices the company had received over the past four years since it started forwarding the notices on to affected users. Most other ISPs have never disclosed the amount of notices they receive.

The graph shows that Exetel has usually been receiving at least 10 of the notices per day, but that on some days the number received has been in the fifties. In some prolonged periods the ISPs has received around 20 notices per day. This means that Exetel has usually been receiving around 300 copyright infringement notices per month, but on some months, far more — even up to a thousand or more.

Over the past year or so, the number appears to have been decreasing, hovering around 5 notices per day — which would still mean Exetel was receiving around 150 copyright infringement notices per month. The statistics are consistent with statements by fellow ISP iiNet during its court case that it had received thousands of copyright infringement notices from content owners over a five year period, the vast majority of which it ignored.

In his blog post, Exetel’s Waddington highlighted the trend of decreasing notices, and implied that it was puzzling, given the sheer rise in the amount of bandwidth available to broadband users over the past half-decade. Potential explanations for the decline, he said, could come down to:

  • The idea that the infringement notices had successfully caused illegal downloaders to cease their activity
  • Peer to peer masking technologies (for example, the use of virtual private networks located overseas) had become much better
  • Users pirating had “got pretty much all there is to get, and there isn’t much left”
  • Copyright enforcement companies had become less active.

“I don’t think the last point is true, their systems would be pretty much automated by now I would think, so there is no particular reason so think they have scaled back,” Waddington said. “P2P stealth I don’t think is the reason either. No matter how much encryption, both ends still need to know the IP address and the file name, and that can’t be hidden transferring a file to/from a ‘honey pot’ peer.”

“So, is it hurrah! for the good guys or has all the gold that can be plundered been plundered from those Spanish galleons?” he concluded.

The release of the statistics comes as the ISP and content industries continue to debate the issue of how to deal with Internet copyright infringement. Closed door meetings on the issue are being held by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department, and late last year the ISP industry proposed an educational system as a solution to the issue.

Consumers, however, appear to have been largely left out of the debate on the issue, with the Attorney-General’s Department explicitly banning consumer group representatives from attending the talks, and much of the rest of the debate being associated with pure industry groups such as the Internet Industry Association and Communications Alliance, as well as content industry groups such as AFACT.

Exetel’s graph (the X axis is days since its forwarding policy was introduced, and the Y axis is the number of notices received each day):

Image credit (graph): Exetel


  1. Other factors to consider in explaining the decline:
    – Exetel’s churn rate following the company’s decision to pass on allegations;
    – iiNet decision around two years ago was quite scathing of the mass infringment notice strategy;
    – Cloud computing and online storage became more popular (i.e. less local downloads, but no less piracy);
    – 3D technology became viable in cinemas, but not yet for consumers, so the box office had a selling point;

    I’m highly skeptical of any suggestion that copyright holder’s decision to gradually send less infringment notices (a decision entirely within the copyright holder’s control) is actually linked to less infringment. Particularly if extended to the suggestion that less infringment was a result of the infringment notices.

    • Also, Exetel’s policy of straight out disconnecting users who “use too much data”…if you’re torrenting regularly, you’re gonna be at the upper end of the usage scale that sees them kill your accounts.

      • I have often wondered about this; I haven’t ever talked to someone who has actually been disconnected by Exetel under these guidelines.

        • I dont think that people churning is the main reason. With the high AUD allot of people are going down the legit path, because there are more online content distributors out there and many are not doing regional pricing, e.g. like GamersGate. A few months back I purchased entire software publisher catalogues for as little as $45! Then add to that Steam/Origin game updates that can seriously kill smaller download quotas. Also not to forget HD video streaming on sites like Youtube and Vimeo, people using VPN’s for OS catchup sites or simply just using local TV catchup sites.

          If Waddington thought his bandwidth consumption was doing to go down, sorry it’s not, if anything its going to keep going up. The content has evolved and even if he disconnected every pirate there is off his network, it still won’t change the fact that people want to do their purchases online and current digital content will inherently use more bandwidth.

        • As an Exetel customer who has taken an interest in this area over the years, I’ve never seen or heard of any case where anyone has actually had their service cut-off because of receiving too many of these notices.

          Sure, the threat has been there on occasions, and its’ in the terms and conditions, but to my knowledge the threat has never been followed through and actually carried out to the extend that any users were disconnected.

          A few people have got their knickers in a knot over the policy, and voluntarily moved to a different ISP and a few were asked to leave. (for reasons other then copyright notices) And a whole heap of people have been VERY vocal and had plenty of criticism over the policy on various forums. (The majority of them being non-Exetel users)

          But most Exetel customers have simply ignored the policy or modified their behavior, either by taking extra security precautions, or changing the times or ways that they’ve sought-out the media they wanted.

          The whole thing has been a non-issue when it all boils down.

          Exetel simply protecting it’s arse. (which is how they explained the introduction of the policy way back when)

          • My sentiments exactly. I used very close to my 100GB limit every month for a period, and now use around half my 200GB quota and I’ve never had a problem…

            I feel, and I’m amazed no one else has pointed this out, that bittorrent does not equate to piracy. It just shows pirates are getting smarter and aren’t using torrenting because it was always an insecure way of doing business.

        • They never cut you off, but they do strongly suggest that you move to another provider, if you wish to continue to use your unlimited plan like an unlimited plan.

  2. I would like to see data on just how many users, once receiving a notice, continue the same behavior, versus those who cease to use bit-torrent.

    Then I’d like to see the bandwidth of those data groups, and whether they had a drop off in usage…or if the amount pulled down remained fairly stable (eg they moved on to other less traceable modes of piracy).

    I’m going to hypothesise that a lot of those who receive notices, just simply move on to other methods. Now all we need is for someone to share their data.

  3. There are ISP’s that are cheaper and better than exetel really why bother with a ISP called Exetel that loves to annoy and cut off its customers.

  4. I suspect that knowing what receiving a notice means people would either receiving a notice people either move to VPN, use a private trackers, or find the grass greener on another ISP

  5. It would be interesting to overlay total data downloaded by Exetel customers for the same period. Its very unlikely that this is aligned to the number of notifications which suggests people are getting their content through other methods.

  6. I would think that some of what they say is true on all counts.
    Some would be scared by the warning – particularly if they are your kids,
    Some would turn to more devious means. swapping rather than downloading. Or less obvious systems vpn etc.
    Some would have just got tired of the whole process of downloading stuff and moved on to more interesting lives.
    As well has the quality of available content declined so they just dont want the junk that is being offered. You can only watch so much stuff and how much stuff is available to watch even just on the internet.
    Face Book has taken many people from a passive screen to an active screen/network.
    Lastly maybe people are actually using legal services that were not availabe for the longest time.
    One thing is for sure though. With the rise of the internet things will never be as they were for the TV – Movie – Music – Software and Hardware producersand sellers ever again. The worldmoved on in the last ten years. Big time. Who would have thought that people would swap hard copy cds/dvds for data files? Who would have thought that you would happily stream something that you paid for rather than getting a physical product that was as a result of a cash transaction. Who would have thought that you would have so many PC’s in the home doing different things. Tomorrow belongs to those that know what it will contain. Has the content and retail industry finally woken from its slumber.

  7. I would be greatly interested in the spike shown on the graph – Could that spike be perhaps content heavily desired yet unobtainable to the general Australian public for a length of time?

    Season 1 of Game of Thrones aired in America but wasnt shown in Australia until the last episode was realeased in America (some 10 weeks or so), yet there seemed to be an awful lot of chatter in Australia about it, even though no-one has seen it. Spooky.

    These spikes could well be good evidence attributable to this – and the media industries should understand and release everything at the same time everywhere, with the possible exception of logistical difficulties.

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