Copyright Is Becoming Guilt By Accusation
from the guilty-until-proven-otherwise dept
TorrentFreak has a good post about how copyright holders have been effective in moving copyright into a modern form of “witch trials” in which you are guilty based on accusations, and then have to go through a long, arduous and often biased-against-you process of proving your innocence. The article points out two examples of this. First, the Kafka-esque process that Jonathan McIntosh went through to keep his mashup video (one cited by the Library of Congress as a quintessential example of fair use) from being taken off YouTube. Of course, it actually was off for quite some time, because YouTube’s ContentID system is also based on a “guilt by accusation” system — after which you have to convince everyone (including, initially, your accuser) that you’re really innocent.
The second is the new “six strikes” plans from US broadband players. One of our main complaints with all of the “strikes” plans is that they all are based on accusations, rather than any conviction. While there’s an “appeals” process, it’s quite limited and the rules have it so that the deck is completely stacked against those who appeal.
What both of these examples have in common, obviously, is that they’re so-called “voluntary” solutions, put in place by companies, often due to arm twisting by the entertainment industry, combined with threats of government regulation if such “voluntary” actions don’t happen. While it may seem that voluntary agreements are to be encouraged, when they create a situation like this, in which users are being declared guilty merely upon accusation, with little real recourse in many cases, something seems wrong. We run a very real risk of discouraging important services and innovations when we start taking away core concepts like “innocent until proven guilty” — even if it’s just in civil issues between private companies. It’s a trend that’s quite worrisome and can lead to many innocent people getting punished.