Yes, Three Strikes Laws Have Unintended Consequences That Even Music Industry Execs Hate

from the surprise,-surprise dept

As noted earlier, I’m at the Midem music industry conference this week in Cannes, in the south of France. France, of course, has been at the forefront of many of the debates over copyright issues, with its Sarkozy-backed push to be one of the first countries to implement a “three accusations and you’re off the internet” policy (despite Sarkozy’s political party’s own long history of infringing). There really hasn’t been that much discussion this year about the whole three strikes thing (last year, it was one of the main topics), which seems a bit odd. However, I did randomly see a twitter message from the guy who runs a travel rental business here in Cannes, Lao Watson-Smith, pointing out that all these music industry execs are complaining about all their accommodations having locked down WiFi (even when it’s offered free), and noting that the only reason why these connections need to all be locked down is because of the three strikes laws that they pushed through. And, indeed, it is rather annoying. My hotel has “free wifi” (which seems to go down regularly) but you still need a user name and password, and once you log in with one device it will not let you log in with any other device. You must use that one device exclusively. When the official WiFi went dead, I went in search of other networks, including one called “Free WiFi,” but when I accessed that, it still asked me for my username and password (which I obviously don’t have). It certainly is somewhat amusing to find out that the music industry execs are annoyed by the consequences of the law they so desperately claim they need.

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Comments on “Yes, Three Strikes Laws Have Unintended Consequences That Even Music Industry Execs Hate”

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: can you clarify the connection

Maybe I just have the afternoon dumbs, but can you clarify the connection between three strikes and wifi being locked down for me: apart from the general notion that 3-strikes is anti-open.

Sure. Even though the WiFi is “free,” due to the law they need a way to track back who the user is, so they end up having to limit it in order to know who you are.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 can you clarify the connection

My favorite comment from that article is …

“If copyright infringement became a criminal offence then perhaps we’d see fines and punishments in line with reality. The million pound fine and 10 years in prison promised on those big signs in cinemas is a joke when you consider what people get for much more serious offences.

If the police start raiding people for things like breaking the copy protection on CDs or similar minor offences – when so many minor offences are ignored due to lack of police time and higher priorites – can you imagine how much bad press the government will get?”

Erik says:

Free Wifi

Just a note regarding the “Free Wifi” connections. One of the major French ISPs is named Free, hence the name. They have a tit for tat service for their users where you sign up and your router publishes a separate network under the name “Free Wifi”, and you can login to any Free Wifi network from any other participant. Users are assigned fixed IP addresses so that their activity can be tracked back to the original user account.

It’s a handy service that has made a major dent in most of the public pay for Wifi services.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

I have to laugh on this one. Mike, you make it sound like all these recording industry people are so damn frustrated that they are tearing their hair out or something, rather than just getting the WEP key and enjoying the free wireless.

In all of my travels, I can say that wide open wireless is becoming less and less available. Where I do see unlocked wireless systems, they are protected by payment systems inside (boingo style). Even hotels and such that offer free wireless will activate accounts for the period that you are staying, not open ended.

I have to think that if you asked the executives which is more annoying, having to get the WEP keyword or piracy, they might say piracy.

Nice stretch Mike. Did you hire someone else to write for you while you were on the road?

InfoBus (profile) says:


This is so funny! But there are a few things I’d change in the further interest of complete compliance with the recording industry’s weirdness: 1)No more free – they must pay like everyone else; 2)put at least six services, distributors, advertisers and other middlemen in the wireless delivery queue to pump up the prices; 3)keep the original wireless service provider enslaved by lousy royalties and arcane agreements while spending millions on lobbying and ads; 4)make them pay royalties to every intellectual property they load up while online; 6)introduce at least a dozen competing media formats, each of them required for a complete surfing experience; 7)randomly insert ID packets into the download stream to ensure honest compliance; 8)finally, make all online content available only in French and interrupt it every so often with promo ads, dire warnings about copyright infringement and bandwidth brownouts.

Rasmus says:

Re: Merde!

You forgot a yearly property tax on all intellectual property.

It could be like:
You have to pay $1.000 in federal tax for each recorded music song you own copyright for. Or pay 10% in federal tax of the generated revenue of that song if the revenue is over $10.000
Exclusive licenses should be regarded as equivalent to ownership for the purpose of this tax.

Lt Govenor Pappy Johnson (PJ) says:

“You must use that one device exclusively.”

The problem with giving free wifi is that it breeds. You see, ‘dem wifi units will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. We gots to get them to walk to the Maître d’ and pony up a few euros for a second account and a greasy pizza recommendation.

Sam I Am says:

@24, Anon Coward, “I wonder who will win?”

With freedom and privacy comes accountability, including legal accountability. No accountability? No freedom and privacy. Ask a guy in jail about his so-called “right” to freedom and privacy. Rights can’t be taken away, only privileges can.

Pass protected wifi is a simple first step towards online accountability, to mirror the accountability in all well sorted civilizations. You wonder who will win? I’d say with accountable wifi in France and likely part of the ACTA, we are already seeing the trend toward our answer.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you are using sneakernet or worse Fedex, you are paying probably more to be a pirate than it is worth. Would you really pay fedex $25 to ship a retail $15 music CD? Would you spend 2 hours on the cross town express to meet someone to give them a CD?

Sneakernet would also be slow enough that the rights holders likely wouldn’t bother with it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Heh, you think small…

“Would you really pay fedex $25 to ship a retail $15 music CD?”

No, but you’d pay the same amount to ship a DVD containing 50 albums, or a 1Tb drive containing thousands.

“Would you spend 2 hours on the cross town express to meet someone to give them a CD?”

No, but you’d definitely meet up with friends at work and swap data for nothing.

“Sneakernet would also be slow enough that the rights holders likely wouldn’t bother with it.”

Yeah, they were blind to it when it was happening for 50 years before Napster. They only panicked about individual “piracy” when the internet made it more visible. Shame they don’t realise that “piracy” was a factor in their success in previous eras. Yet again, piracy is there and the recording industry needs to adjust their model to address this reality. Their failure is the last 15 years, where they have tried to stop something that cannot be stopped, and tries to run its business according to realities that died in the last millennium.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No accountability? No freedom and privacy. Ask a guy in jail about his so-called “right” to freedom and privacy. Rights can’t be taken away, only privileges can.

Hmmm. Except you failed to answer “WHO” holds the person accountable. Seems it’s a computer. And surely human behavior been properly modeled in the computer so it can apply a uniform set of rules that take into local idiosyncrasies and culture, yet harmonized on a worldwide scale just as the robber barons desire.

:) says:

Peasant's Revolt.

Is history repeating itself all over again.

Why the U.S. independence occurred? Was it not because of perceived injustices committed?

Maybe a new imperfect system will come out of the “sharing” movement like so many other movements like the beatnik generation, punks, cynics and etc.

The funny thing is people thinking that this will go away if they can “control” it, which is fuelling even further civil disobedience.

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