How The Digital Economy Bill Sets Up A System Like China's Censorship

from the you-get-what-you-asked-for dept

We've pointed out a few times that there are great similarities between the way China censors the internet and the provisions in the leaked drafts of ACTA. They're both based on increasing secondary liability to try to get third parties to silence a certain form of expression. Of course, the same is also true of the Digital Economy Bill in the UK (which is sort of a mini-ACTA for the UK). Kevin Marks did a brilliant job comparing and contrasting the language of Rebecca MacKinnon's Congressional testimony on the effects of internet blocking in China -- compared directly to language in the Digital Economy Bill. He also makes the tie-in with Bono's statements from a few months back, suggesting that countries implement Chinese-style censorship to stop copyright infringement -- noting that's exactly what the DEB tries to do. Basically, the DEB enables a very similar form of censorship in the UK that the Chinese government has put in place in China -- it's just that it seeks to censor potentially infringing expression, rather than political expression. And, of course, don't be at all surprised when China uses these laws as justification for its own censorship policies. And, yet, it's still stunning to see US politicians heavily involved in condemning China's online censorship while actively supporting similar forms of censorship at home.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 6:18pm

    Jealously

    And, yet, it's still stunning to see US politicians heavily involved in condemning China's online censorship while actively supporting similar forms of censorship at home.

    The US government is just jealous of the Chinese government.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    ant anti mike, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 6:21pm

    so

    uk and usa go communist after all that shouting how evil it is
    russia goes democratic and opensource
    canada and mexico stay out of acta
    and the rest of the EU
    and the experiment with heavy foot govt begins and hard core copyright control in hte usa and UK

    it will fail of course and end the regimes and corporate power that has brought us from WWII till here.

    my prediction

     

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

  3.  
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    Txknight (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 6:24pm

    its censorship when "they" do it, and protecting the children from piracy when "we" do it, totally different


    /note not paying for sarcmark, sarcasm implied

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 6:37pm

    nothing is bring censored by the digital economy bill unless you call rampant copyright infringement some sort of free speech. well it is free. the entire post is a massive overstatement.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 6:42pm

    Re:

    To create a moral panic by drawing imaginary parallels between the suppression of political speech and blatant copyright infringement seems to be received here quite favorably.

    BTW, I never fully appreciated that the unauthorized downloading of a movie was a form of "expression".

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 7:05pm

    Re: so

    If the 20th century is considered the American century than the 21st century will be known as the century of the citizen.

    "You spelled consumer wrong."

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 7:05pm

    Re: Re:

    preaching to the choir is often well received.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 7:07pm

    Re: Re:

    Speaking of moral panic . . . .

    THEN STEALERS ARE DESTROYING OUR 20TH CENTURY INDUSTRIES!!!

    I blame terrorism.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 7:10pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So is enriching the public domain.

     

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

  10.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 8:00pm

    Re: Re:

    To create a moral panic by drawing imaginary parallels between the suppression of political speech and blatant copyright infringement seems to be received here quite favorably.

    No moral panic. It's an accurate description: both systems use questionable secondary liability methods to suppress expression. If you want to hand China the ability to point out that its suppression of "bad content" is no different than our suppression of "infringing content" that's your decision, but I find it morally questionable.

    At least Bono was intellectually honest enough to admit that what he wanted was the same setup as what happened in China.

    BTW, I never fully appreciated that the unauthorized downloading of a movie was a form of "expression".


    It's not, but you are being (yet again) blatantly dishonest in claiming that this is about downloading movies. It's not. It's about stifling all sorts of creative expression that does not go through the gatekeepers of old.

    That you refuse to admit that really makes me question your knowledge of this space.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 8:04pm

    Re:

    Oh look, some straw.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 8:18pm

    Re: Re:

    Maybe they could use that straw to build some sort of foundation with which to lay their entire business upon.

    I'm sure that will hold up over time, right?

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I am trying to understand how one can equate what is transpiring in China with what is transpiring in the US.

    In China the purpose seems to be to control medium in such a manner as to prevent speech that is deemed unacceptable by those in power. This is what I characterize as political speech (though there are doubtless other types of speech that are deemed to offend the sensibilities of those in power), and it was this very concern about political speech that led to the creation of the First Amendment.

    In the United States the dynamics and subject matter are entirely differeent. Political speech is not being suppressed (try and imagine CFNC [China Fox News Channel]). If anything, such speech is expanding as new means of communication are established.

    On another matter, you seem to be fixated on "secondary liability". It may be useful to note that secondary liability has been a concept long establish in United States jurisprudence. Moreover, its application is limited to particularly egregrigious situations where an intermediary has for all intents and purposes been an active participant. Napster went down in flames for obvious reasons. The same is true concerning Grokster, IsoHunt, etc. Each was not a passive conduit. Each facilitated third party conduct by their active participation. Also importantly, for all of its "warts", the DMCA does attempt to strike a balance between competing interests by using the concept of "safe harbors". I rather doubt that China proposes to adopt the concept.

    As for "expression" persons in the United States are free within the bounds of law to express whatever they want. The fact some may want to do so by engaging in activities having absolutely nothing to do with the creation of new expression by engaging in the wholesale downloading and distribution of unauthorized content is far afield from the balance struck under United States law between an authors rights and the First Amendment by the establishment of Fair Use. You seem to want a litmus test that is in black and white. If only it was that simple.

    On a final note, I am quite aware of "this space". The only thing I do not admit is that one should turn a blind eye and deaf ear to those who flout the law, and in the process effectively punish everyone else (by far the majority) who does try to play be the rules. While you may disagree with the business models of others, it is a matter easily addressed. Simply vote with your wallet and support those whose business models are in line with your views, and eschew the products and services of those who do not.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Zzaphod Beeblebrox, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 9:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hey there Anonymous Coward

    Looks like you're talking to yourself again!

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    More people download legal material than illegal material.

    I guess we have to make sure the internet functions in a certain way that's based on only the illegal material.

    What's an encryption?

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 9:48pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Raporism.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 9:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I am trying to understand how one can equate what is transpiring in China with what is transpiring in the US.

    I don't understand that either. They speak Chinese in China, and we speak English (or "American") here in America. Have you ever seen Chinese? It looks nothing like American! And that means that the Internet in China is nothing like what it is in America! So to try to compare anything in China to anything in America is just ridiculous!

    In the United States the dynamics and subject matter are entirely differeent. Political speech is not being suppressed (try and imagine CFNC [China Fox News Channel]). If anything, such speech is expanding as new means of communication are established.

    Before you know it, somebody is going to be trying to claim that bogus copyright and DMCA claims have been used to take take down perfectly legitimate speech, sometimes even for political reasons. Well don't you believe it, because this is America and that kind of thing would only happen in someplace like China. (And I've already proven that America is nothing like China.)

    As for "expression" persons in the United States are free within the bounds of law to express whatever they want.

    As are the people in China. Wait, that would be the same as in America. That can't be! Something's wrong here! Oh, I see the difference. In China they say it in Chinese, and in America we say it in American, so it's not the same after all. Whew, I almost lost it there for a moment.

    The only thing I do not admit is that one should turn a blind eye and deaf ear to those who flout the law, and in the process effectively punish everyone else (by far the majority) who does try to play be the rules.

    That's right. Now, get in the back of the bus.

    Simply vote with your wallet and support those whose business models are in line with your views, and eschew the products and services of those who do not.

    Sure, go ahead and vote with your wallet, that's what big business does: Republicans and Democrats are the best money can buy.
    /s

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 9:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    ...and those who download legal material have nothing to fear from US copyright law.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 10:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Rather lengthy comment containing nothing meaningful and relevant.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 10:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Except, of course, the inability to use websites that dare to allow user-generated content without jumping through 5 hoops and 3 content inspectors and the broken DMCA.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 10:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Rather short comment admitting lack of ability to defend points.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 10:26pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, if not straw, I hear there is a large excess supply of useless plastic discs.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 10:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As someone who doesn't live in the US I am glad to hear this.

    ACTA what?

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 10:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's what happens when your position is built on a bedrock of useless plastic discs.

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    Blamer .. (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 12:31am

    ditto Australia

    ditto Australia - see nocleanfeed.com

     

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  26.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 12:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I am trying to understand how one can equate what is transpiring in China with what is transpiring in the US.


    I thought I made that clear in my original post on the subject: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100120/0216537828.shtml

    After writing that I received an email from one of the top lawyers in this business who said it was dead on. Can you explain why you think it's off?

    In China the purpose seems to be to control medium in such a manner as to prevent speech that is deemed unacceptable by those in power.

    And, with ACTA the purpose is to control the medium in such a manner to prevent expression that is deemed unacceptable to those in power.

    The issue is that in China it's expression about politically sensitive topics. In the US, it's expression that puts certain legacy companies' business models at risk.

    But the methods are the same: prevent a type of expression the gov't "doesn't like" by setting up secondary liability. You seem to think this is okay when it comes to a type of expression YOU PERSONALLY don't like (i.e., those that challenge the business models of certain companies) but not okay when it's expression you personally agree with.

    I find that a morally untenable situation. Your moral compass may be quite different than mine.

    In the United States the dynamics and subject matter are entirely differeent. Political speech is not being suppressed (try and imagine CFNC [China Fox News Channel]). If anything, such speech is expanding as new means of communication are established.

    No one said political speech was being suppressed -- though, there are examples of using copyright law to suppress political speech, but that's a tangent. What's at issue is suppressing expression via increased secondary liability.

    And this is not just a hypothetical. We've already pointed out how user generated platforms have been closing down in South Korea, whose FTA ACTA is based on. Increased secondary liability greatly reduces avenues of free expression, because some of that expression is disliked by bureaucrats. In China, it's expression that threatens the gov't. In the US, it's expression that threatens those who fund the politicians.

    On another matter, you seem to be fixated on "secondary liability". It may be useful to note that secondary liability has been a concept long establish in United States jurisprudence.

    No one has said otherwise. The concern -- laid out clearly, though you seem to ignore it -- is how ACTA greatly expands secondary liability.

    Moreover, its application is limited to particularly egregrigious situations where an intermediary has for all intents and purposes been an active participant.

    Today. ACTA seeks to expand that.

    Napster went down in flames for obvious reasons. The same is true concerning Grokster, IsoHunt, etc. Each was not a passive conduit.

    History written by the victors. At the time, with all of those (and still with isoHunt) it could be argued that it was not at all obvious that there was a legitimate secondary liability claim. Grokster's ruling was especially troubling, as it took some rather basic facts and got them incredibly twisted.

    Also importantly, for all of its "warts", the DMCA does attempt to strike a balance between competing interests by using the concept of "safe harbors". I rather doubt that China proposes to adopt the concept.

    You haven't heard the Chinese gov't speak about the great firewall much, have you? They claim an almost identical "balance."

    As for "expression" persons in the United States are free within the bounds of law to express whatever they want.

    Same as in China. China just has different bounds in their laws.

    The fact some may want to do so by engaging in activities having absolutely nothing to do with the creation of new expression by engaging in the wholesale downloading and distribution of unauthorized content is far afield from the balance struck under United States law between an authors rights and the First Amendment by the establishment of Fair Use. You seem to want a litmus test that is in black and white. If only it was that simple.

    No, YOU seem fixated on unauthorized downloading, as if that's what we're talking about.

    You need to get over that.

    On a final note, I am quite aware of "this space".

    Your comments suggest otherwise. They suggest someone who, at the very least, is extremely out of touch with cultural production and output, as well as the legal issue surrounding them.

    While you may disagree with the business models of others, it is a matter easily addressed. Simply vote with your wallet and support those whose business models are in line with your views, and eschew the products and services of those who do not.

    Ah, right. And screw those who wish to make use of tools for distribution and promotion that are forced to shut down because a small group of companies are too stupid to figure out how to use them.

    Yup. How does it feel to be a dinosaur?

     

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  27.  
    icon
    Davem (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 1:13am

    Racists, drivers & copyright infringers.... http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/7515305/Campaign-launched-to-era dicate-music-piracy.html
    Comparisons were made at the launch in London on Wednesday to anti-drink driving campaigns which have gradually changed attitudes. Ms Byrne said of such parallels: ''Absolutely, I spoke to quite a few people when we were doing this campaign and it's not going to happen overnight but I think the whole point is basically creating awareness and to chip, chip away.'' She added: ''I think the key thing is that this is a starting point.'' Chris Morrison of CMO Management agreed that the problem is generational. But he continued: ''You can educate that out of people ... Racial prejudice was rife when I was a child ... the public attitude towards it has changed radically. ''You educate, it's generational ... It may take five, 10 years, but you need to start in schools.'
    That's right - if you 'illegally' download then you're no better than a drunk driving racist - (from next week add in gang rapist kiddie murderer...) And of course, if you're accused of being a drunk driving racist gang rapist kiddie murderer, then you must be a drunk driving racist gang rapist kiddie murderer ...

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 5:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    AC -> "I am trying to understand how one can equate what is transpiring in China with what is transpiring in the US."

    Top of Page -> "How The Digital Economy Bill Sets Up A System Like China's Censorship"

    --- The DEB is being introduced in the UK ---

     

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  29.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 8:36am

    Re:

    "/note not paying for sarcmark, sarcasm implied"

    funny !!

     

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  30.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "That's what happens when your position is built on a bedrock of useless plastic discs."

    They do make great drink coasters. Microwave them then spray them with polyurethane.

     

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

  31.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "As for "expression" persons in the United States are free within the bounds of law to express whatever they want."

    You do realize that this statement is true in every nation on the planet, including China, right?

    The key phrase is "within the bounds of the law."

    I disagree with your notion as to the true purpose of such legislation, though. I don't think it's really about copyright infringement. I think it's almost completely about limiting political speech, including speech that is offensive to corporations.

    In the pre-internet days, it was easy to limit effective speech because broadcasting platforms were expensive. Now, it's cheap. I don't think the established powers are enjoying the new competition.

     

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  32.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 7:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Someone hasn't been paying attention...

    US citizens have plenty to fear from copyright law, regardless of whether or not they actually violate it. Lots of people have been financially damaged, even though they are innocent, by RIAA (as one example). RIAA doesn't care much whether their accusations are correct or not -- and often they're not -- but those accused must either pay the extortion they demand, or pay lawyers to defend themselves. That's something to fear.

    In the larger sense, current copyright law is heavily damaging the notion of the cultural commons, and copyright extremists even think this is a good thing. I would argue, however, that this is something we should all fear.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Dave, Mar 26th, 2010 @ 1:00pm

    Gets worse.

    At this rate, there won't even BE an internet to use in a few years time, if these crackpot, complete non-techie politicians get their way. Don't they use the net as well?

     

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


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