Targeting Copyright Infringers, But Hitting The Digital Economy

from the it's-time-to-stop-the-madness dept

Michael Scott points us to a short article/paper with the perfect title:Aiming at Copyright Infringers and Hitting the Digital Economy by William Dutton from Oxford. The key point, as you might imagine, is in challenging the various attempts at ratcheting up copyright enforcement around the globe in the mistaken belief that it'll actually slow down infringement. Like many other reports, he points to research that suggests that such laws do not have the intended effect at all. But the bigger issue is how this quixotic focus on ratcheting up enforcement has very serious costs to the rest of the economy:
Secondly, and most significantly, the measure could have unintended negative consequences for the vitality of the Internet -- the network of technologies, practices and people that are key to the digital economy. The Internet is not built on a house of cards, but it is nested in an ecology of policies and practices that make it difficult for legislators to change one key element and not have repercussions throughout the larger ecology (Dutton et al 2010).

Specifically, the strategy of copyright defenders could indirect consequences on freedom of expression and access to the Internet. This stems from the copyright protection measures placing the communication regulator into the position of creating mechanisms to monitor users in order to identify those violating restrictions on unlawful file sharing. Governments are moving from a position of not regulating Internet content, to assuming responsibilities for Internet content regulation. They are passing these responsibilities on to regulators, to pass these responsibilities on to the ISPs, who then are able to bring violators to the attention of the regulatory authority. By putting ISPs into the role of monitoring users and disconnecting repeated offenders, the initiatives change the role of the ISP -- moving it towards a more traditional communication intermediary, such as a broadcaster, rather than the provider of an end-to-end network.

A number of governments have been regulating Internet content via the ISPs. China has used this approach, for example, to monitor chat rooms and forums. However, once ISPs are put in the position of monitoring and potentially regulating Internet content, by either blocking content or disconnecting users, they become editors, and therefore open to many of the same legal instruments as other edited media, such as the press. This can subject ISPs to even greater risks, such as from being held responsible for defamation. In such ways, as governments push ISPs into a new role as intermediaries, they are on a slippery slope that could have a chilling effect on both ISPs and Internet users.
Of course, plenty of people have been pointing this out for years, but I'm always glad to see more people recognizing these key points.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2011 @ 10:49pm

    FUD.

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Mar 28th, 2011 @ 11:05pm

    Re:

    False statement.

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    chillienet (profile), Mar 28th, 2011 @ 11:16pm

    Re:

    Really? FUD?

    Do you fear that governments around the world might start to realise that stricter copyright enforcement is not the best path to walk down? Are you uncertain about your future as a troll/shill/waste of space? Do you doubt the effectiveness of the entertainment industries copyright propaganda?

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2011 @ 11:20pm

    The fact is that censorship is very real. Outside the Internet the govt grants monopoly power over cableco infrastructure use and broadcasting spectra and the result is censorship of many things, including anything that criticizes IP. The result, over the years, has resulted in 95+ year copy protection lengths resulting in a huge detriment to our culture and society and in artificially high costs of accessing and storing information.

    The MSM used to be a lot more careless before the Internet, often saying things that were very obviously not true, but now they're much more careful only because Internet users would otherwise correct them. The MSM used to lie about a lot of things (ie: not that I support universal health care, but the MSM used to always parrot the lie that Canadians pay 50 percent in taxes as an argument against a universal health care system, and none of that is true. Heck, they even lie now, I've heard a reporter, I believe it was on CNN or something, obviously mistranslate what someone said on one of their microphones in another country in response to a question they asked in English and then translated from English into the other language, the mistranslation seemed deliberate and politically driven but I understood what was being said by the person who said it in their native language).

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 12:03am

    The good news is that the study from earlier this week debunks the claim that increased copyright enforcement has resulted in less quality content being created. It may be increasing it. So there is one chilling effect we don't have to worry about.

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 12:42am

    Re:

    You've obviously never heard of Dutton. He's pretty good at what he does.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 12:57am

    Re:

    That is not FUD, FUD is claiming loses when you can't show concrete evidence of loses, FUD is passing laws to fix something that no one can say what is wrong with it, FUD is try to change social norms through legislation and claim its the law.

    FUD is coming here over and over again getting your ass kicked and coming back for more trying to confuse others...hmmm...well actually that is funny.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 1:02am

    Re:

    You are doing it wrong dude.

    Freetard FUD.

    There fixed for ya.
    Your master won't pay you if you don't do it right.

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 1:44am

    Re: Re:

    FUD is crying FUD when it isn't FUD

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Altavoz, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 5:22am

    The Majors v Indies

    There needs to be some clarification of exactly who is behind these suits. The Majors are and they are trying to take their issue and make it seem like it's the same issue for the independents. We are an indie distro co and we don't support any effort to sue consumers, wiretaps- yes majors want to do that. or hire copyright trolls.

    There is are serval cases now where artists, consumers with support of Indie distributors like ours and others are fighting to stop the majors and they BS attempt to save off the unavoidable. They Suck and once a couple of Bricks to Clicks systems are in place we'll see who has record sales problems or that the majors do in fact suffer from one big problem TheMajorsSuck.com

     

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

  11.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 6:32am

    Re: The Majors v Indies

    I bookmarked the site http://themajorssuck.com/

    Thanks

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:25am

    The real issue here is that ISPs are more than willing to allow their hosting services to be used by bad actors, because they feel that section 230 and others keep them from being liable. At this point, ISPs aren't even held to the same standard as a landlord in the real world. There is no risk, and only reward for ISPs who allow illegal activity on their networks.

    The other part is that e-commerce companies seem not to care what sort of neighborhood they move into. They take incredible risks (like saving $10 by not buying a domain, but instead using a 3rd level DNS entry on someone else's domain) or by signing up for services that have already been marked as scams over and over again, information what can easily be found on a Google search.

    The article itself is fairly much full of holes.

    This stems from the copyright protection measures placing the communication regulator into the position of creating mechanisms to monitor users in order to identify those violating restrictions on unlawful file sharing.

    What he leaves out is the simple point that unlawful file sharing is in fact unlawful. Further, we are still in the infancy of the internet, in real terms, and governments worldwide are still trying to find way to apply their "real world" laws to the internet in meaningful ways. From retail sales tax to bullying, from intimidation to drug trafficing, it's all on the table and the Governements of the day are forced to try to come up with ways to control the unintended benefits and drawbacks of such a communication system. To single out rights holders as seemingly the only player pushing for better laws and regulation is incredibly misleading.

    Finally, he needs to understand that the "chilling effects" should only be considered as they hurt legal speech as a whole, not small parts of it. This is particularly true in the rap blog situation, where much of the activity on the sites (including many of the blog posts) seemed particularly aimed at getting around or ignoring copyright. The courts have a very hard time justifying saving a small amount of free speech by ignoring large amounts of illegal or unprotected speech.

    The true chilling effects come from ISPs and users who are willing to push the limits of the law, doing online what would not be tolerated for a second in the real world. When the legal aspects catch up to the activities, some will scream about "chilling effects", but the rest of us will understand that it is just he law finally getting applied online as it should have years ago.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 8:10am

    Re:

    +1

     

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

  14.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 8:39am

    Re:

    The real issue here is that ISPs are more than willing to allow their hosting services to be used by bad actors, because they feel that section 230 and others keep them from being liable. At this point, ISPs aren't even held to the same standard as a landlord in the real world. There is no risk, and only reward for ISPs who allow illegal activity on their networks.


    You really think removing the Section 230 safe harbors is a good idea? Why? The only gain is that you would be able to place liability on bigger fish than those who are actually responsible for the infringements.

    Removing the Section 230 harbors would be the biggest mistake ever concerning the internet. Way too much of the internet commerce depends on the 230 harbors. It would create an internet economic depression that rivals the Great Depression.

    And why would this be done? So that a couple of industries can sue someone with money instead of the actual infringers?

    I hope you lots of loot in your war chest for this, because there are tons of huge players out there (ATT, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc..) that will probably oppose you.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    Removing the Section 230 harbors would be the biggest mistake ever concerning the internet. It would create an internet economic depression that rivals the Great Depression.

    It's just FUD 24/7 on this blog...

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 9:05am

    Re:

    It's just FUD 24/7 on this blog...

    Umm..not FUD. My opinion.

    Seriously, what do you think will happen if every site has to worry about liability from the actions of it's users?

    Do you think they will all weigh the risks and keep operating anyways? Or will they decide it's not worth it and shutdown or completely change their formats to something useless to the consumer? Do you think there wouldn't be ripple effects to the farthest edge of cyberspace because of it?

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 9:12am

    Re:

    And? There's no point even having that law if no-one actually sticks by it. Look at ICE, pushingt he boundaries on the law. Any arrests of ICE employees for that? Soemhow, I think not. YOU CANNOT HAVE A LAW THAT EVERYONE IGNORES. That's not a law - that's stupidity.

    Go look at Glee (made by 20th Century Fox), and come back to me about Section 230.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re:

    dude, seriously? They're not going to f*cking gut 230. Most of it works great, but some of it doesn't.

    Laws get modified all the time, and this one is long overdue.

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    dude, seriously? They're not going to f*cking gut 230. Most of it works great, but some of it doesn't.

    Laws get modified all the time, and this one is long overdue.


    How exactly would you propose changing Section 230?

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 10:29am

    Re:

    What he leaves out is the simple point that unlawful file sharing is in fact unlawful.

    Let us take a moment to review. The article is debating that this law is wrong and should be removed, and you are debating with a premise that the law is right to prove the law is right. Did I miss anything?

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 10:49am

    Re:

    Quote:
    The true chilling effects come from ISPs and users who are willing to push the limits of the law, doing online what would not be tolerated for a second in the real world. When the legal aspects catch up to the activities, some will scream about "chilling effects", but the rest of us will understand that it is just he law finally getting applied online as it should have years ago.


    Not tolerated in the real world you say.
    Nobody shares anything in the real world?
    People are criminals for sharing?
    Was Jesus Christ a thief freetard for multiplying the fish?
    Are people going to jail for sharing their cars?
    Are people going to jail for sharing a cup of coffee?
    Are people going to jail for sharing the same space with others?

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 10:54am

    Re:

    Quote:
    The real issue here is that ISPs are more than willing to allow their hosting services to be used by bad actors, because they feel that section 230 and others keep them from being liable. At this point, ISPs aren't even held to the same standard as a landlord in the real world. There is no risk, and only reward for ISPs who allow illegal activity on their networks.


    The real issue here is trying to criminalize something that is not criminal, is trying to create a problem that doesn't exist as a way to justify absurd laws, that is the real issue, sharing is not illegal activity and it was never illegal to share anything with anybody until some stupidy people thought they could get away with it claiming it is a bad thing to share something with others, that is ridiculous, I can share music with my friends at home but when done online it is a crime, to bad all my friends live all around the world today and I can only talk to them online, ask me if I respect any law that says I can't share something with them.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Then we need to cut copyright terms to 10 years, severely reduce the liability to fit the crime maybe using percentages instead of fixed values if the reason statutory damages exist is to create hardship then it should be applied to the extent one will feel the pay, it can't be light for people with money and it can't be absurdly harsh to people without money, then I have no problems on how absurd copyright will be in the future as long as it last only 10 years you can do whatever you want in those ten years, then it all becomes fair game to everyone.

    Then we wouldn't even need a DMCA, we can repudiate the entire section.

    Now if you only want to change section 230 well you must remember that without it the telcos successfully blocked the DMCA for years, they didn't want the liability then and I doubt they will want it now, have you more lobbyist then they have?

    I doubt it.

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Mar 29th, 2011 @ 11:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    After some investigation it appears you (and I) were talking about the wrong safe harbors.

    Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 has safe harbors for online publishing, but explicitly excepts intellectual property law.

    Now the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA) (AKA: DMCA 512) does actually deal with intellectual property and internet safe harbors.

    But, my original statement of opinion still stands: Modifying or removing either of these safe harbors will reek havoc on the internet economic landscape.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Jack Love, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 12:24pm

    Needed: One Editor

    Specifically, the strategy of copyright defenders could indirect consequences on freedom of expression and access to the Internet.

    Isn't this sentence (the first sentence in the second paragraph from Michael Scott) missing a verb? Is this directly from his paper?

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:24pm

    Re:

    "The good news is that the study from earlier this week debunks the claim that increased copyright enforcement has resulted in less quality content being created."

    How so?

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:27pm

    Re: Re:

    circular reasoning at its best.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 7:34pm

    Re: Re:

    Exactly, the real issue here is that copy'right' is an atrocity that doesn't deserve to exist in the first place. It robs me of my rights. To then allow this atrocity to further overstep its lack of justification by taking away more of my rights and more of the economic benefits that I would receive from its absence (ie: all of this additional liability would result in higher ISP costs and it would result in higher prices on services that would otherwise be much cheaper, ie: any service that wishes to host permissibly licensed content) is even more unacceptable.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Ed C,, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 11:19pm

    Re:

    Why should anyone take you seriously when you obviously don't even know the difference between an Internet Service Provider and a web host? An ISP is the company that provides your connection to the internet. The last time I checked, not many actually provide web hosting. And no, web host usually can't tell whether users legally have the rights to the content they post, or are using it legally.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Copy'right' abolition is long overdue. Too bad laws only seem to get modified if those modifications don't go against the interests of big corporate sponsors.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2011 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    (even if those modifications are in the public interest).

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This