France Wants To Cut Casual File Sharers Off The Internet

from the cruel-and-unusual dept

France really seems to have a split personality on the question of file sharing. For years, the French courts have said that casual file sharing isn't piracy and should qualify as legal private copying. However, French politicians haven't gotten that message. Some proposed a law that would put casual file sharers in jail. However, recognizing how silly this was, others pushed forward a bill that would have legalized non-commercial file sharing. Unfortunately, it looks like things are swinging back in the other direction, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and a French anti-piracy body have announced a new plan that would kick casual file sharers off the internet. This body included representatives of internet firms, record companies, film-makers and government. You'll notice that no one seemed to represent consumers' rights or interests. Apparently, the people don't matter.

Even worse, the deal appears to require ISPs into the role of the entertainment industry's spies and enforcers. ISPs will be required to monitor user activity (privacy, be damned) and will send warning letters to those who are apparently sharing too much content. If the user persists, the ISPs can cut off their internet access -- apparently with no right to defend themselves (due process, be damned). Of course, many will simply go further underground, using encrypted systems to hide their activities from their ISPs. Still, it's not clear why ISPs are now doing the bidding of the entertainment industry, and why casual, non-commercial file sharing deserves punishment as serious as losing your internet access completely. About the only "good" thing you can say about this new proposal is that at least it doesn't involve throwing people into jail for casual file sharing. The backers of this plan are presenting it as a "compromise" because the entertainment industry has promised to deliver more content, but that presumes that the industry wasn't moving in that direction already. This is a bad deal for people in France.


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    Ian Kwan, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 4:34am

    "This is a bad deal for people in France"

    Actually, it's a bad deal for thieves in France.

    I download music illegally. I admit it. Hell, I'm downloading 2 albums right now. The difference between me and some other music "pirates" (I hate that word) is that I admit it's illegal rather than make up some excuse. Now granted, I actually buy some of the music I listen to. However, illegal is illegal, and I really don't think that being kicked off the internet by their ISP for downloading illegally is unwarranted.

    Due process? Illegal file sharers know they're guilty. I know I'm guilty. I think everyone should have an opportunity to defend themselves, but if everyone was being honest, file sharers included, then it really should be a quick process, because most files being shared are just pirated copies of albums, games, etc.

     

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      fuse5k, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 4:42am

      Re: "This is a bad deal for people in France"

      I agree with comment #1, in everything apart from his last sentence, Just because all of the file's he shares are illegal, it doesnt mean that's what everyone uses it for.

       

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      Abraham J. Lokietek, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 8:02am

      Re:

      Actually, it's a bad deal for thieves in France.
      What does it have to do with "thieves"? You're sounding like an industry troll/shill.

      I download music illegally. I admit it. Hell, I'm downloading 2 albums right now. The difference between me and some other music "pirates" (I hate that word) is that I admit it's illegal rather than make up some excuse.
      Yeah, sure you are. Now you're really sounding like a turf troll.

      However, illegal is illegal, and I really don't think that being kicked off the internet by their ISP for downloading illegally is unwarranted.
      OK then, if that's really how you feel then you should have started by kicking yourself off the net. Then you wouldn't be here.

      Due process? Illegal file sharers know they're guilty. I know I'm guilty.
      Then I suggest you go turn yourself in rather than trolling forums.

      I think everyone should have an opportunity to defend themselves, but if everyone was being honest, file sharers included, then it really should be a quick process, because most files being shared are just pirated copies of albums, games, etc.
      That reminds me of the line from the movie Blazing Saddles where they were getting ready to lynch a guy: "First we're gonna try ya, then we're gonna hang ya". Yeah, just a quick formality. Shouldn't take long since we've already decided you're guilty.

      What a freaking troll.

       

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    yogi, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 4:44am

    This is not surprising for France

    France is hardly a democracy in the American sense. It's more like a (supposedly)benign dictatorship.
    You get a good job and good pay and great vacations and in return you don't mess around with the established big guys- in politics or business or the media and so on.

    Of course, if you happen to be Arab or Black or otherwise not completely French - then you'll have a tough time getting such a good deal.

     

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      Yogi, as in Yogi Berra, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 9:21am

      Re: This is not surprising for France

      "France is hardly a democracy in the American sense. It's more like a (supposedly)benign dictatorship. You get a good job and good pay and great vacations and in return you don't mess around with the established big guys- in politics or business or the media and so on."

      WOW! I'll just assume you are not from America,... or you are part of the "establishment".

      Another Yogi Berra quote you might like:

      It's deja-vu all over again.

       

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    Shohat, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 4:57am

    Climb the $%@# down

    Don't assume "privacy" and "due process" are some super-standards that must exist. Not every country is the same, so climb down your high tree and stop imposing your values on other nations.

     

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      Mike C., Nov 26th, 2007 @ 5:24am

      Re: Climb the $%@# down

      Shohat, you must be new here...

      Otherwise, you would have seen the many times Mike has pointed out that the music industry uses the various international treaties and trade agreements to "jurisdiction shop" more draconian measures.

      You can be certain that if this gets passed in France, the RIAA will start hounding Congress in the US to pass similar legislation "so that we can remain compliant with our trade treaties".

      It's worth knowing what is going on so that when it shows up on our doorstep, we can be ready to fight.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 5:38am

      Re: Climb the $%@# down

      high tree?... are you in china or something? privacy and due process are things that every human being should have. I guess people can just spy on you an accuse you of things. and you will just the fact that you can't defend you self. At least you aren't being imposed upon by some other country's values.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 10:05am

      Re: Climb the $%@# down

      @ Shohat
      Actually, I believe France is a member of the EU (leading agriculture producer in it actually) and the EU's basic human rights supercede any laws of its member nations (with a handful of exceptions) as agreed by signing the thing.

      Rights to privacy fall under Article 8 and of the EU charter by the way.

      So, before you go all 'anti-American' while quite possibly actually living in the nation and just doing so 'to be cool' cause 'America sucks', make damn sure you know any rules and laws that actually exist in a foreign country.

      Your ignorance is staggering. Some Rights that the American fore-fathers wanted to have, have been deemed a Right that EVERY human should have by the UN and the EU. Not every right, but most of the "basic" ones.

      Course I shouldn't expect a 14 year old to know this sort of thing typically, but I can always hope that the earlier people use the internet the quicker they'd learn how to not look like a total idiot.


      @ #1 and #2, the problem is members of the French executive and legislature ignoring the judiciary. The prime role of the judiciary is nearly always that of administration, to make sure the rest of the government doesn't break any rules and the like.

      The French courts have already ruled, without it being overturned, that downloading unauthorized content is not piracy (e.g. perfectly legal). Uploading unauthorized content IS illegal in France, but you have to 'share enough' for the courts to think you should be punished at all for it (all this according to the past ruling by the French courts). So the new agency over there ignores past rulings (impeachable offense in most countries).

      The new Agency really IS new as well. Brand new. Just formed after the President met with 'industry representatives' and their net firms. Its also given all sorts of wide reaching powers, and has little or no oversight.

      Furthermore it forces ISPs to do investigative work, violating the rights of France's citizens, on behalf of a third party commercial entity with no compensation. In most countries that is also illegal.

      So if you do download a song, legal in the country, your ISP will turn you in if it has happened before. The Agency then sends you a warning that your internet could be shut off (potentially for life) AND send off your info and the evidence to yet another party, the French/Euro version of the RIAA.

      I think consumer group UFC Que Choisir says it best:
      "very tough, potentially destructive of freedom,
      anti-economic and against digital history".

      Aside from the methods being illegal (in France)in several different ways, this is going to have far reaching consequences for a very very short term, and questionable, goal.

       

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 26th, 2007 @ 5:07am

    Disagree with #1 & #2

    I disagree with you guys. Even if it is illegal now, that doesn't mean that the law is completely good and just. It just means that our politicians were paid to make is this way. As the percent of the population who does this grows (shown by real or by the MAFIAA's bogus stats), it only further proves that its a bad law and not in the interest of the public.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 5:07am

    It's a sad state of affairs when businesses can coerce the government into what essentially amounts to working for them.

    The article claims that this is targetting "those illegally sharing files". How are they going to identify "illegally shared" transfers from "legally shared" transfers. Are they going to "track" these downloads by identifying who is using bit torret and whose not? What about using bit torret to download a Linux distribution or game patch? The traffic looks the same. If they do start "cracking down" what they'll be doing is targeting those users who are using lots of bandwidth, not those who grab one or two songs every few months.

     

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    x, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 5:49am

    I think it's wrong to state that they will "kick casual file sharers off the internet" It's going to be important to stress that they still need to prove that you have been downloading and then sharing music that you haven't the licence to.

    I certainly wouldn't be pleased if my isp kicked me off the net for downloading open-office via p2p software (http://distribution.openoffice.org/p2p/). Although seriously do we really expect isps to monitor every p2p protocol for illegally shared files? It's just simply not going to happen.

    Just a thought, but wouldn't the simple solution for the pirate to not share complete files? You can quite easily configure p2p software to cease uploads on completion. Wouldn't it be impossible to prove that they were sharing files if they never shared a complete one?

     

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    coderego, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 6:00am

    comment #1 is a fool

    You completely missed the point of the article. They are shutting peoples internet off whether or not the file sharing is illegal. If you were sharing large video files that YOU YOURSELF created, you could still be shut down....idiot. Read before you post!

     

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    SteveD, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 6:06am

    It might happen in the UK too...

    A month ago we had similar rumblings from Lord Triesman in the UK:

    "Where people have registered music as an intellectual property I believe we will be able to match data banks of that music to music going out and being exchanged on the net...

    ...We have some simple choices to make. If creative artists can't earn a living as a result of the work they produce, then we will kill off creative artists and that would be a tragedy."

    Which of course, the Copyright lot are loving. The British ISP Association however came back with:

    "ISPA does not support abuses of copyright and intellectual property theft...

    ...However, ISPs cannot monitor or record the type of information passed over their network. ISPs are no more able to inspect and filter every single packet passing across their network than the Post Office is able to open every envelope...

    ...ISPs deal with many more packets of data each day than postal services and data protection legislation actually prevents ISPs from looking at the content of the packets sent,"

    The good news is however that with the Goverments massive cockup last week (loosing a database with the names, addresses and bank account details of half the country) theres enougth paranoia over net privacy that should delay this for quite some time.

    The biggest irony has to be Lord Triesmans job-title however. Can you guess?

    Parliamentary Under Secretary for Innovation. :P

     

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    Barbara, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 6:28am

    The French are not alone

    I'm astonished (but not surprised) at the sense of superiority coming from the American about the alledged quality of American democracy. My experience of American government is that it, too, is a benign dictatorship--a plutocracy set up by the rich to serve the interests of the rich.

    Wasn't it just last year that wealthy commercial American interests attempted to take over the ENTIRE web? Mellow that superiorty complex, yogi, before the rich totally impoverish you.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 10:07am

      Re: The French are not alone

      Like no other rich corporate types would not want to take over the whole internet. Oh yea, they're greedy bastards for sure but blaming it on an 'American' mentality just shows your own hippocracy.

       

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    SteveD, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 6:32am

    Can't we stay on topic?

    Come on, you've got the rest of the Internet to bait americans. :/

     

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    chris (profile), Nov 26th, 2007 @ 7:03am

    leave us americans alone

    france has cheap healthcare and student riots... they're practically china :-)

    as for cracking down on internet file sharing, it sounds like MAFIAA money has finally made its way across the big pond.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 7:11am

    Mike quote
    "For years, the French courts have said that casual file sharing isn't piracy and should qualify as legal private copying. However, French politicians haven't gotten that message."

    It's the politicians job to pass and update laws. The courts merely decide if an action is legal according to existing laws. Laws can change.

    Mike quote
    "You'll notice that no one seemed to represent consumers' rights or interests. Apparently, the people don't matter."

    Apparently you must be unaware that "the people" elected this leader and the other politicians.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 8:06am

      Re:

      Apparently you must be unaware that "the people" elected this leader and the other politicians.
      Which makes it all that much worse. What a betrayal. But money tends to make people do things like that.

       

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    Geester, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 7:16am

    fair play

    i think the original post is not correct. the copyright holders have to make a complaint first so i don't think it is based on ISP's monitoring traffic.
    the first comments post is spot on. file-sharers should just fess up that what they're doing is wrong and they are just running the odds. a process with first offence triggering a warning, second offence a suspension and third offence a termination sounds like a fair deal to me. The ISPs are probably being forced to enforce what's in their T&C's already!

     

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    Overcast, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 7:19am

    Even if it is illegal now, that doesn't mean that the law is completely good and just. It just means that our politicians were paid to make is this way.

    Think that sums it up pretty well.

    Politicians can really only do two things: Try to gain more power, try to gain more money.

    After all - why else would they be in the 'business'?

     

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    if wasn't so lazy, would be a wearing an eye patch, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 7:38am

    "Apparently you must be unaware that "the people" elected this leader and the other politicians."

    And YOU must be unaware of the state of politics in France...

    "i think the original post is not correct. the copyright holders have to make a complaint first so i don't think it is based on ISP's monitoring traffic."
    You can be pretty damn sure that the whole process will be automated, I mean they won't make jobs for this (it might help some of the little people ;p)

    Anyway, this will be shot down quicker than a plane over a warzone, it does NOT fit with a HUGE part of the french constitution, most of the french and EU laws. (something about privacy and, indeed, due process)
    Like always this will be for the judges and/or the constitutionnal body to decide, but the state of "piracy" is indeed huge in France (so much that a HUGE chunk of the youth would have to convicted) and such measures cannot even be put into application without raping half the laws already in place (something about spying on personal data, no judges involved to boot....)

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 26th, 2007 @ 7:39am

    Re #11, SteveD

    I am confused as to which way you mean the irony over Lord Triesmans' job title.
    The fact that its for innovation and he talking about draconifying (I don't think that's a word, is it?) the laws (this is also the choice I assume, but couldn't help notice ..), or the fact that the acronym for his title is PUSI?

     

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      SteveD, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 8:40am

      Re: Re #11, SteveD

      "I am confused as to which way you mean the irony over Lord Triesmans' job title."

      Its ironic. What he's doing is effectively protecting the media industry from the need to innovate by threatening legistlation against ISPs, while trying to educate a university population of the importance of innovation in the modern ecconomy.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 7:49am

    I would like to point out here that this would not be the first case of a preventative measure affecting innocent people. There are plenty of instances on several different scales (from a small family to school classrooms to businesses to entire countries) where the actions of a few individuals ruin good things for everybody. I don't see anybody here complaining (at least not this loudly) about having to stand in line forever and almost strip bare just to get through airport checkpoints. The vast majority of people going through there are obviously not terrorists, but the airports have to assume they are in order to ensure the safety of all.

    By comparison, the vast majority of online file-sharing is indeed illegal, like it or not. While I do not personally believe it is right to be denied service for sharing your own content which has no copyright, I can understand why they want to try to crack down on all the illegal file sharing going on, and it honestly is not beyond their right to do so. Is it fair? No. Is it fair that somebody who creates content for a living gets continuously ripped off by those unwilling to pay for said content? Also no. And you wonder why concert tickets and various merchandise are so expensive. Granted, the RIAA and MPAA make the prices artificially inflated, and the artists unfortunately see little of that money. However, by trying to take a swing at those organizations by refusing to pay for content, you are still denying the artists their cut, which is VERY unfair.

    Many things in this world are not inherently bad, but because they can be abused, and have been, they have been restricted or banned for the general good of all. What's unfair about that is not the fact that they have been banned, but that certain people did bad things that forced such a ban. It's those people you should be angry at, not governing bodies that try to fix the problem the only way they can. I just recently saw somebody wearing a t-shirt that said "It's not illegal until I get caught." It's exactly that kind of attitude that causes problems like this, and unless that attitude changes, the situation will not get any better.

     

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      if wasn't so lazy, would be a wearing an eye patch, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 8:04am

      Re:

      Problem with your analisys is that in fact either way the artists are shunned and at the very least in France.
      The most famous and most recognisable artists are the same that deny having to pay taxes that actually make sure the country is running.

      So really the richer artists showed their fellow frenchmen that they were too good to pay taxes so it's only fait they get denyed their shares of the pie.
      And if it means killing half the artist to manage them to be a little responsible, so be it.
      It's not like being an artist made anyone richer than Cresus before the majors decided to make sure that the artists were widely known.

      Heck why the hell are thoses puny people payed more than the guy going for the military or even the scientist that discovered HIV?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 8:14am

      Re:

      I don't see anybody here complaining (at least not this loudly) about having to stand in line forever and almost strip bare just to get through airport checkpoints.

      Well of course not, because that's not the topic here you idiot.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 12:55pm

        Re: Re:

        Okay, I worded that poorly. My point was that there are many scenarios in which we suffer much more due to the actions of a few than we do with file sharing crackdowns. People whine and complain to a certain degree about airport security, but in the end they know it's good for everybody, so they shut up, for the most part.

        Also, I don't deny that not all the artists are innocent. As it's been said, many are contributing to the problem, not opposing it. However, that still doesn't give us the right to perform illegal activities. Their responsibilities to the government are none of our business.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 8:09am

    File sharers are criminals

    Because copyright infringement is the same as murder!

     

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    yogi, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 9:50am

    Indeed, I'm not from America

    And I understand that some Americans feel that their country is a disguised dictatorship.

    But compared to other democracies, America seems to me to still be the standard, especially as it concerns the rights of the individual.
    For example, I find it hard to believe that a congressman would be able to suggest a law bypassing due process without hearing about it from half the country.
    Look at the outcry concerning the security laws the administration is trying to pass. You won't hear that in France. The public is not supposed to participate in such discussions.Try getting a contrarian view published in a major media outlet - almost impossible in France.

    America certainly is not ideal, but there are far worse democracies in Europe.

     

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    KIller_Tofu (profile), Nov 26th, 2007 @ 10:19am

    AC #21

    You obviously must be new here.
    If you had been following all of the plentiful amount of posts on topics along the lines of people and file sharing, you would see that there are other ways for artists to earn revenues. The days of the recording industry are over. The government (ours or anyone else's) should not be passing laws to protect their outdated business model(s). Copyright laws already exist that say the "pirates" (it really is a stupid word) are guilty of copyright infringement. So extra laws to enforce these things are not needed and should not be passed. It is NOT an ISP's job to be somebody else's police force, be it any recording studio, movie business, or for the artists.

    Artists get practically nothing off of CD sales anyways. The record companies get all the profit from them. So downloading the music really doesn't hurt the artists to begin with, invalidating a large portion of your argument.

    The artists have many ways to make money off of their music, such as licensing to commercials & movies, selling merchandise, and touring concert ticket sales. Also, blaming high ticket costs for concerts with regards to copyright infringed music is futile for the reason listed above in my 2nd paragraph.

    With regards to your third paragraph, I could say that cars can be used for evil. They can be used to run people over. They can be used as getaway vehicles from a robbery. They can be used for destruction of property. We have laws against those things already (similar to copyright infringement laws). That doesn't mean we need to pass laws limiting where and when you can drive cars.
    So your 3rd paragraph really doesn't seem to have much purpose. If the government did pass laws that limited where and when you can drive your car, I am sure you would not be angry at the people who drove a car used for those purposes, but at the government who passed the law limiting your driving ...

     

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    yeah right, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 11:30am

    This is just crazy talk

    The ISPs make money cause people have internet.
    How stupid would an ISP have to be to ban all their customers because they use their internet to do x, y or z?
    This will never fly, unless they plan to make you pay even after your banned. Then, well you can imagine...

     

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    bs mancuso, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 9:53pm

    wow, the french are sooo terrible!

    um, lemme see if i got this straight: the french are acting in defense of legit property rights holders - and you guys are attacking them for being in the wrong? to quote the immortal snagglepuss, give me a phukking break!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 1:20pm

      Re: wow, the french are sooo terrible!

      um, lemme see if i got this straight: the french are acting in defense of legit property rights holders - and you guys are attacking them for being in the wrong?
      No, you got it wrong. They are being criticized for over-reacting and circumventing due process. Kind of like the shopkeeper who sets up a shotgun booby trap in his shop after hours.

      Furthermore, there is usually no way for the ISP to know who is actually sitting behind the keyboard of a computer at a particular IP address. This is the same problematic approach taken by the RIAA in cases where they try to claim that IP addresses correspond to individual identities.

      to quote the immortal snagglepuss, give me a phukking break!
      If that's your attitude, then perhaps someday someone will decide to punish you without trial for some infraction they think you committed.

       

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 27th, 2007 @ 5:16am

    Re: bs mancuso & AC33

    Again saying property rights is slightly misleading. It is a digial good once on computers, and therefor (near) infinitely available. It is an intellectual property right. Be sure to use the word intellectual there or it may come across as if you are making it sound like you are talking about physical property rights, which would immediately invalidate your argument since it would wrong.

    To AC#33, are you suggesting everyone just shut up about draconian laws being forced down everyone's throats with regards to internet filtering? If so you must be a recording industry shill, for they are the only ones with something to gain from these laws being passed. The whole rest of the world does not. ESPECIALLY the ISPs who would be losing customers because of this shit.

     

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    EvilMessiah, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 1:42pm

    @33
    Actually, I think you're misunderstanding what the 'problem' is. It's all about how you frame that question and when you consider the aspects of that, the nature of the issue becomes clear.

    To the recording industry, the 'problem' is that they've got a deeply entrenched business model that is no longer responsive to the realities of the modern market. Without the flexibility to adapt to new standards, the only other recourse is to preserve their antiquated way of thinking through lobbying and litigation. It's like the post office suing ISPs for supporting email while petitioning government to outlaw it. It's about protecting their monopolies from the technologies that shape all business practices, not just theirs. If I was a shareholder in one of these companies, I'd let the other shareholders know that the industry practices are becoming suicidal. Rightly, we should be doing that anyway.

    For the consumer, the 'problem' is that these music cartels use their influence and capital to twist the public agenda to incriminate the many for the benefit of the few. They've got something we don't: namely, the ear of our legislators tuned to the finest rhetoric their expensive PR people can spout. Unless I'm mistaken, governments are supposed to look after the public interest. Private interest must necessarily take a back seat to that because they almost never serve the majority benefit.

    And let's not forget the artists. The industry which institutionally abuses and cheats them hesitates not one second to claim they're acting on the artist's behalf. Since musicians make a mere pittance on album sales anyway, the 'problem' for them is being heard and known so that people will support them in more lucrative venues such as live performances and merchandise, provided the industry hasn't scooped up all rights to that income. Musicians benefit more from the free advertising they get from file sharing than they do with industry 'protective' measures.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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