Why ISPs Shouldn't Be Copyright Cops

from the taking-down-content-that-creators-want-online dept

It’s no secret that the RIAA is pushing quite hard to make ISPs responsible for policing the various content that traverses their networks or is hosted by their customers. However, if you want a perfect example of why this is a terrible idea, witness this story of a record label that purposely puts all its music online for free to download, who had its web host take down the sites for copyright infringement. Yes, the record label put the tracks online on purpose, to help promote the musicians on its label. Yet, the webhost took matters into its own hand, seeing the music being distributed for free, and shut the label’s website down for copyright infringement.

Even better, is that when the record label’s boss (who also happens to have written many of the songs that were pulled down) called the hosting firm, he was told that he needed to send the host the paperwork showing that the songs had the copyright registered to him. The only problem? There is no registration, because you don’t need to register things with the copyright office (you can, and there are some advantages to doing so, but it’s not a requirement). Instead, they had just put them under a Creative Commons license.

This is the sort of thing that will happen all the time if ISPs or webhosts or even online services like YouTube are told that they need to police copyright infringement proactively. They have no idea the real intentions of the content creators, and will inevitably pull down content that was put online for free on purpose, creating a bureaucratic mess for content creators who purposely adopt business models that embrace free file sharing. I can understand why the RIAA would like to hobble those business model innovators, but it doesn’t explain why politicians and ISPs seem to want to help the RIAA out in this manner.

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Comments on “Why ISPs Shouldn't Be Copyright Cops”

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Dextrocardia says:

Another possibility

Call me cynical, but my first thought was that maybe the ISP just couldn’t handle the bandwidth being used by the site. The ISP probably sold some sort of “unlimited” bandwidth package, and then got burned by the amount of traffic the site was handling. So they used this “copyright” excuse to shut down the site, knowing all along it was bogus.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Another possibility

“Call me cynical, but my first thought was that maybe the ISP just couldn’t handle the bandwidth being used by the site. The ISP probably sold some sort of “unlimited” bandwidth package, and then got burned by the amount of traffic the site was handling. So they used this “copyright” excuse to shut down the site, knowing all along it was bogus.”

From what I’ve read, that seems to be exactly what happened. All the weird parts of the story (they need snail-mail copies of copyright registrations?) seem designed to trip up exactly these kinds of customers. It’s a bandwidth issue, and copyright is sufficiently confusing to allow them to break their contract under its pretense.

LDøBë says:


This is exactly what happened to some of my friends and me! We ran a completely legal website . We used it to publish our own music to the web for free, but the isp took it down and won’t even let us have our server data back. We were only posting the music we wrote, and we had it licensed under CC, but the isp cited infringement. We don’t have the money or time to go to court over it, but it makes me f***ing mad as hell.

PaulT (profile) says:

This is the kind of world the RIAA wants, folks. Unless you’re releasing your content via pre-approved and pre-vetted channels (who just happen to be RIAA members), you will have your rights violated. You will be assumed to be a thief unless you can prove otherwise, then persecuted anyway if you don’t conform.

But, remember, this is for “the good of the artists” and to “protect music”….

I’ve boycotted the RIAA and only buy non-DRM and non-RIAA music through eMusic, Beatport, AmieStreet and the artists’ own webpages. Please do the same to get the message across to these idiots. The only way to stop this is for the profits of independent artists to increase while the RIAA profits are falling. Even then it’s guaranteed but at least I’m doing my part.

LDøBë (profile) says:


I’m just outraged. Is it as common as i think it is for ISPs to simply crush independent content makers like me and the boys at popoki.org? I just am so mad. That was an outlet we had set up for our fans to learn about our music. We purposefully wanted to give out OUR MUSIC for free. An ISP in its “infinite wisdom” judged our art as worthless, then stole it from us. I’m pretty sick with anger. It’s my music, I have the rights to it. If the ISP had a problem with hosting music in general, then it should say so.

ArringtonCaughtRedHanded says:

Anyone see this story on Arrington Webaroo story?

The Convenience of Nondisclosure
October 20, 2008 | Ted Dziuba As a journalist, it’s much easier to leave your cronyism undisclosed. After all, if people found out that there motivations to your writing beyond truth or entertainment, then they might think less of you. Maybe they’d even stop advertising on your website.

There’s always been a bit of conflict of interest within TechCrunch, and for the most part it is disclosed pretty well. Arrington is an investor in Seesmic… that sort of thing. But what about the conflicts you don’t hear about? I told you all earlier about the relationship between YCombinator and TechCrunch, but that could be written off by skeptics, as I presented no hard proof beyond what a source told me.

This time, though, I have proof.

What’s Webaroo?
Webaroo is a tech company. I’m not really sure what they do, but they’ve raised a lot of money to do it. That doesn’t really matter. What matters is their coverage on TechCrunch.

Mike Arrington’s rave review of Webaroo was published in April, 2006. In June of that year, Webaroo was “selected” as a top entry to the TechCrunch sponsored Supernova 12 event. Supernova 12 was like the TechCrunch 50 before there was a TechCrunch 50: a showcase for the “best” startups that applied. Later, in July of this year, TechCrunch wrote about Webaroo closing a funding round.

Well That’s Nothing Out of the Ordinary
This is all well and good when they conveniently ignore the glaring cronyism. Webaroo was co-founded by a gentleman named Brad Husick. Brad Husick is the husband of one Gail Clayton Husick, a former partner at the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where Arrington used to work. Did they know eachother? Probably. They co-authored a book in 1998.

Husick’s name is nowhere to be found on TechCrunch. The only place you’ll find it is in a comment thread on one TC story. It’s not listed in Webaroo’s CrunchBase page. Husick seems to have since left Webaroo, as he is not listed on their management team page, but there are several articles on the internet that reference him as co-founder and President of the company.

Interestingly, the last post about Webaroo on TechCrunch, the one where their funding round was announced, stirred up a little controversy. It was posted by now former TechCrunch writer Calley Nye. After its publication, a “source” told TechCrunch that the funding had not yet closed, and the announcement was premature. This happened in July 2008. Two questions rise out of this: who was the source, and why did Calley Nye stop working for TechCrunch shortly after? Occam’s Razor, indeed.

Anyway, as for the other startups cheated out of their chance to present at Supernova 12: sorry, guys. Your co-founder should have been married to one of Mike Arrington’s friends, that makes it a lot easier.

If this relationship went undisclosed for so long, what else don’t we know?
Ted Dziuba’s blog 2 comments
Uncov Marches On
October 18, 2008 | Ted Dziuba Yes, I have decided to move on from Pressflip, but Uncov will continue in all its glory. Uncov started last year as an outlet for poking fun at the postured-up absurdity on the internet. I wrote a lot of mean-hearted things about a lot of people and companies, and for the most part, I stick by what I’ve said.

The vast majority of the people I’ve picked on have taken it well. They get the joke. I’ve run into CEOs at parties who have complimented me on how well I’ve torn apart their product. Conversely, I’ve had CEOs and founders write me the most butthurt e-mails and comments I’ve ever seen.

In both cases, I have felt justified in what I’ve written because I can. People point out the irony of me talking trash on startups while doing a startup myself. Yes, this is the point: to show you that no matter how illogical something can be on the internet, there will still be hype and buzz around it. It’s not supposed to make sense.

That being said, thank you to everyone who wants to be my Dad. I’m sure he’s flattered. Thanks to the bloggers who have said things like gee, Ted, it’s not easy as it looks, now is it? (by the way, nobody has come out and told me that fatherhood isn’t as easy as it looks – so I am assuming it will be a breeze), or those who have admitted their own failure of prose and quoted Theodore Roosevelt’s The Man In The Arena speech. You are the reason that Uncov will continue to exist. I do it because nobody is there to stop me, and because traffic continues to grow.

Yes, I really am that awesome.
Ted Dziuba’s blog 6 comments
Paul Graham, Just Shut Your Face Already
October 16, 2008 | Ted Dziuba Paul Graham thinks it’s a good idea to start a startup during a recession. As is usually the case in anything he writes, Graham uses a lot of text to convey very few ideas. His most recent diatribe, though, has a solution-to-word ratio of zero.

In the text mining world, we would consider this to be very poor signal.

YCombinator, LLC.
Venture capitalists are telling entrepreneurs in their portfolio to buckle down, and that shit’s not gonna be very good for a while. It’s a shame more of them don’t live in PG’s fantasy land. Let’s take an example:

Fact: Investors are shaky now, fleeing to more stable investments, thus giving less to venture capital firms, which in turn distribute less to startups.

PG’s Solution Investors are dumb. They are doing it wrong. They shouldn’t do that.

Well, that’s a fantastic theory, but how does it help us?

Let’s say you’re a YCombinator company just starting out right now. Two founders, so YC throws you about $15k. Fifteen thousand dollars for you to get your idea off the ground, which has to cover capital expenditure and your personal cost of living. After that money is done, you are expected to have raised venture capital, be acquired, or be self-supporting.

Trying to raise venture capital in the next year is going to be like trying to raise the dead. Being acquired, well maybe, but unlikely without raising VC. Be self-supporting? Then maybe you’ve got yourself a for-reals business plan, and don’t need Paul Graham’s chump change.

The 43 Word Version
Here are the salient facts distilled from Graham’s verbal diarrhea:

You should start a company now. The economy is of no importance. All that is important is that the founders are smart and the idea is good. Don’t worry about raising money because magic will happen. After all, this is Silicon Valley.

Ah, yes. It’s a crying shame that your landlord won’t accept an explanation of your idea in lieu of rent. Oh, right…also ignore the fact that ViaWeb was acquired by Yahoo in the height of the first dot-com bubble.

See, I’ve cut almost 1,100 words out and offered the same amount of hope and the same number of solutions.

It’s unfortunate that being an expert in a dead programming language can’t make a person into an expert in a living, spoken one. Also, to clarify, I have never and will never seek investment from Paul Graham or anyone that looks like Paul Graham. I don’t like Paul Graham because he is a false prophet.
Ted Dziuba’s blog 5 comments
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