Digital Britain: Few Surprises As It Looks To Prop Up Content Industries

from the government-doing-what-government-does dept

The final version of the UK government’s Digital Britain report, its blueprint for updating the country’s tech-related laws and infrastructure, has been released today, and it doesn’t look like it holds too many surprises. Like the interim report that was released earlier this year, it’s full of a lot of vague language, and as the UK’s opposition party points out, seems most interested in propping up failing old-media business models. Two aspects of the report are grabbing the most attention. First, the government will start a 50p (about 80 cents) monthly tax on landline phones in order to build out broadband networks in rural and other unserved areas. Second, and more controversially, the report says the UK’s communications regulator must cut file-sharing by 70%, and calls for ISPs to help accomplish this by keeping tabs on their users, sending them notification letters when they download infringing material, and giving up their details to content companies (with a court order) so they can be sued. It stops short of creating a rights agency run by the copyright cartel, as had been rumored, and while it doesn’t endorse the use of a three-strikes policy, it does say that regulators will have the power to force ISPs to use other technical means (such as throttling connections, traffic shaping, and even blocking certain sites, services and protocols) to try and stop persistent infringers.

The report pays a lot of lip service to the fact that content businesses need to update their business models to the changing digital environment, but it really does very little to help facilitate this, instead preferring to make stopping piracy the central focus. The government seems to have fully bought into the entertainment industry’s propaganda — that it can’t do anything until piracy stops, that it can’t move forward as long as there’s file-sharing. The reality isn’t that the industry can’t move forward, but rather that it won’t. And, after all, if the government is willing to get involved and offer the industry special protection to prop up its ailing business models, why should it?

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Comments on “Digital Britain: Few Surprises As It Looks To Prop Up Content Industries”

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Anonymous Coward says:

It sounds like the UK government got it right.

If a user isn’t trading illegal / copyright / infringing files, they won’t have issues. The government is only reminding the ISPs that they need to be more cooperative in workign to resolve the issues.

I don’t think anyone can come on here and defend illegal file trading, unless of course they want to defend selling drugs and stealing shopping carts too.

jjmsan (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Do you troll other places or just here? First of all file sharing legal or not should be a civil matter as is copyright law. Selling drugs gives Pharmaceutical companies needed capital to do more research and stolen shopping carts provide shelter for the homeless.
That being taken care of,since we are talking about illegality the ISPs are not the police and have no duty to be cooperative without a court order. The fact that the media industries have a hard time meeting the burden of proof to get such an order does not mean the government should give them a pass. If you want to talk about respecting laws then privacy laws count too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And the family without a computer and the dead grandma that were handed lawsuits for illegal downloads?

Tanya Anderson, who was taken to court, won her defense, and still hasn’t (I think) received the $100000 for attorney fees that the court had ordered (which had been upheld in appeals)?

If it was true that only infringers were being pursued, then it would be much less of an issue. Sadly, it’s not. Not to mention that the damages are often over 500 times the price of the illegally obtained files.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t mind them cutting down on people sharing music in cases that this is what the artists want (but ONLY to the extent that they do not invade our privacy). What’s important to me is that if an artist releases his music and doesn’t mind others freely distributing it across file sharing networks without having to pay anyone royalties then neither the RIAA nor the ISP’s have a right to stop it or impose royalty taxes. Period.

and don’t give me this nonsense that “we can’t know if it’s infringing music so we must pay them royalties anyways.” It is THEIR responsibility to ensure that we can easily find out (ie: by going to a website). If the RIAA doesn’t communicate this then that’s THEIR fault and we shouldn’t be held responsible. We can’t stop everyone from distributing music because the RIAA won’t tell us anything. It’s their job only to protect those they represent, not to extort money out of everyone that distributes music.

Artists should be allowed to have their music played on the radio (Internet, XM, AM, FM), in restaurants, on television, over the Internet, etc… without having some third party like the RIAA profit from it. To the extent that these rights are taken away from us we should fight for them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The RIAA is so sloppy they won’t even tell us who they represent. So they try to impose general restrictions on everyone. You can’t even go to their website and know who they represent.

“The RIAA lists its member labels on their website [1]. However, their website lists not only includes RIAA labels but non-RIAA labels that are distributors that report to the RIAA. The site is outdated and has not been updated since 2003.”

There is a third party site called RIAA radar that tries to do a better job

Even that website says

“Since the album data is not ours, and the RIAA member listings are terribly inaccurate and erroneous”

If these people can’t even keep a decent list of who they represent then why should I trust that they pay them?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

First the RIAA argues that “satellite radio, internet radio and other forms of broadcasting were different from terrestrial radio” and therefore they should pay a royalty tax (even though terrestrial shouldn’t). Later they argue that charging them a tax and not terrestrial radio is unfair and so they should charge everyone a tax.

The only consistency I see among both of these contradicting arguments is that both of these arguments are in the best interest of the RIAA. It is you who bought the RIAA lies.

Bettawrekonize says:

Perhaps a good (unpatentable) idea for people who want to freely release their music to the public is to put a standard disclaimer at the begging of each song. Someone can make a short free disclaimer that anyone can attach either to the end or beginning of their song that says something like

“This song is released to the public domain for anyone to freely copy, distribute, and play as they see fit. This includes playing the music in restaurants without a license. This disclaimer may never be removed from the song and by playing this song you grant everyone else the license that this song provides you.”

(Or the word “song” can be replaced with “podcast” or whatever).

Have them say it fast so it doesn’t take up too much time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

At least this would bring them a LOT more negative publicity.

Defendant: Prove I am infringing

RIAA: You can’t know that you aren’t so you are

Defendant: The artist gives me permission IN THE SONG.

RIAA: Prove you’re not infringing.

Defendant: IT’S IN THE SONG!!!

Imagine if the RIAA won how the public would react.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It would depend on how the music was published, the owner, record contract, obligations, etc. It would also depend if the music was registered, etc. I don’t think it is very easy to wave performance rights, because it would create a very complicaed patchwork of having to prove which individual songs are and are not covered on a given day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

If the waiver (not waver, my mistake) is in each song that is waived and it clearly states that the artist waives his rights to this song indefinitely (ie: not just for a day or whatever) then I don’t see the problem. That’s enough proof, it’s plenty of proof. What more can a judge/jury ask for?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

It still doesn’t matter – because it would be way too much work to try to track which songs are and are not played, which ones are and are not “exempt”. So therefor they collect for all, and the artist can always pay the money back to the establishments (as is his right).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

It is the artists right to have his music distributed without some unnecessary third party profiting from it. That is ALSO his right. It is not too much work to try and track which songs are and aren’t exempt, it is the RIAA’s job to prove that a song is not exempt and pursue infringements only for the artists they represent. That’s exactly what the are getting paid to do, to work. We can’t prevent all artists from distributing their music or make song players pay royalties to the RIAA when it is not the will of the artists just because the RIAA wants to extort money out of people without doing any work. They are paid to do work and if they can’t do their job then they should go out of business. My above waiver makes it very easy to prove that a song is exempt, it’s not a lot of work, just play the beginning (or ending, depending on where the waiver is) of the song and TADA, PROOF. That’s not a lot of work. It’s not my fault the RIAA is too lazy to do any work, we shouldn’t punish everyone because of their laziness.

Can you people see how ridiculous these people are? If anything, this is strong evidence that this isn’t about the artist, this has nothing to do with protecting the artists from piracy (especially since studies have shown that piracy sometimes helps the artists), it’s about passing laws that allow the RIAA to extort money out of artists. This isn’t rocket science, it’s common sense. Stand up for your rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“way too much work “

A: It’s not a lot of work

B: That’s what the RIAA is getting paid to do. They’re getting paid to work. Yes, if they want to get paid, they have to work. What a concept. If they don’t want to work then they should go out of business. Asking the government for permission to extort money out of artists is not the solution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“This song is released to the public domain for anyone to freely copy, distribute, and play as they see fit. This includes playing the music in restaurants without a license. This disclaimer may never be removed from the song and by playing this song you grant everyone else the license that this song provides you.”

You’re creating a contradiction there. Putting something in the public domain means that you give up control over it. However, you’re trying to put it in the public domain AND keep control over it. Can’t do that.

If you want to keep control of it then you’ll have to keep it copyrighted and then license it, just like every body else does. Otherwise, put it in the public domain and let people use it as they please.

This is sooo obvious. Really. Do you think about things at all before you blab them out?

FatGiant (profile) says:

The problem is a bit more complicated I’m afraid.

That waiver could be pasted on any song, and, also, could be cut from any song, rendering it unusable. You would never be sure if the song had been edited or not.

As for the purppose of the post comment, it’s abundatelly clear that governments everywhere are bought and paid for by the Big Media Corps. They aren’t capabble of unbiased decisions. One thing they are forgetting is that file-sharers are growing everyday, and pretty soon they will be abble to vote. Some, have already voted. With organized parties like “Pirate Party” file-sharers will have a voice.

I really don’t care about legalities or rights or whatever, my main concern would be my ratio. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go find out.

Bettawrekonize says:

Re: Re:

“That waiver could be pasted on any song, and, also, could be cut from any song, rendering it unusable. You would never be sure if the song had been edited or not.”

I am glad you mentioned this. I had already thought of long before you mentioned it and there are solutions to this, relatively simple to the artists. I’ll give them out shortly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

None of these solutions are in any way patentable (and they’re pretty much common sense anyways).

First of all, if someone speaks or sings or raps in the song, that singer/rapper himself can mention the disclaimer. That would help show that the singer/rapper did make a disclaimer. Ok, so you maybe thinking, what if someone took a disclaimer from one song and moved it to another from the same artist/singer/rapper.

Have the singer play an instrumental that’s in the song during the time he waives the music. This still isn’t foolproof, but it helps. The instrumental should be unique to a time that has lyrics, but when played with the disclaimer there should be no lyrics.

When the singer gives away songs he also gives them away with a high quality video. In the video he explicitly gives everyone permission to share the video to others all they want. He also can put it on youtube and encourage others to download and share it.

In the video he gives all the names of the songs that he is giving away for free. He also plays a couple of seconds from each song so there is no confusion over what songs are being referred to. If he wants he himself can sing/rap or play music (or both) to show that he is in fact the singer/rapper (since people can correlate the voice). Any others who play a part in the song (ie: play instruments) can perform in the video as well. This shouldn’t be a problem since more artists want publicity and don’t mind people knowing who they are.

On top of that she can write down, on a chalkboard (or piece of paper), the SHA-256 hashsum of the songs next to the names of the songs. This way anyone can verify, in court, that this is exactly the song that’s been given permission in the video to freely distribute. Of course, on one piece of paper she may simply write multiple song names and hashums. Both her and the piece of paper will appear on the video and her writing on the paper may even appear. So the paper may look like this.

Title – hashum

Song1 – hashsum1
Song2 – hashsum2
song3 – hashsum3

(I am not going to think of names or make up actual hashsums)

If she wants she can even create a public/private key pair, introduce her public key on the video, and give away her songs with a text file that digitally signs the SHA – 256 hashsums along with the free to distribute license for each song.

License (a bunch of text) – hashsum – signature
license – hashsum – signature
license – hashsum – signature

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

and if someone does manage to create a video on behalf of a song he does not have rights to then of course the person making the video (not the people distributing/sharing the music) should be held accountable. This goes back to the fact that if someone steals something and sells it to you and you didn’t know it was stolen then you can’t be held accountable (it’s the fault of the person who stole it). If you knew it was stolen, of course, then you can be held accountable. That would further encourage people to share music (and to play them at restaurants) and since most artists know whether or not they own rights over their own songs (ie: that they never gave the RIAA rights over their songs) then they know they have nothing to worry about themselves.

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