Internet pirates that is. Germany’s ISP (Internet Service Provider) association Eco, recently came out with a report that German ISP’s are handing over data on more than 300,000 individuals every month that are found to be acquiring copyrighted material illegally on the Internet.
Eco believes that sending warning letters to individuals found downloading the illegal content would be enough in most cases to prevent future offensives, but many copyright holders are looking to receive money.
Since the crackdown began in 2008, copyright holders have seen a 20% drop in illegal downloads in Germany. Whether this is a direct result of the ISP tracking is hard to determine since the legal offerings of material online has grown in recent years with a 30% increase in legal downloads in Germany in 2010.
This concept is not unique to Germany. Many countries throughout the world are looking for ways to combat Internet piracy, including the United States. The idea of having ISP’s handing over customer’s online activity to authorities has raised privacy concerns in some places, as it can be abused for other uses besides piracy. Eco is insisting though that this is a much better method of catching users than just blocking the sites that host the material for download, since Internet pirates will just migrate to another site that isn’t blocked yet.