Hollywood Privately Acknowledges Six Strikes Program Isn't Doing Much, Guaranteeing It Will Get Much Worse

from the bigger-and-better-is-bad dept

We’re getting close to the two-year anniversary of the Center for Copyright Information’s (CCI) “six strikes” anti-piracy regime. The program, with cooperation from the biggest ISPs, involves forwarding on copyright infringement notices to consumers and punishing users via a “graduated response” program. Said responses vary by ISP but can include a user being temporarily locked behind a walled garden filter until they acknowledge receipt of one-sided “educational” materials, or having your connection throttled temporarily until you admit you’ve been naughty. If innocent, you have to pay a $35 fine to defend yourself.

While the program might seem effective in scaring little Billy straight once his parents notice their connection doesn’t work, it clearly hasn’t had much of a meaningful impact on piracy rates. Unsurprisingly, the entertainment industry argues this is because the measures don’t go far enough; nobody tracks offenders between ISPs, absolutely nothing happens to a user that violates all six strikes (the program simply stops and no more notifications are sent) and most users can simply hide their behavior behind the use of BitTorrent proxy services.

That hasn’t stopped CCI from frequently trumpeting six strikes as a smashing success, often using unreliable, contradictory evidence (when it can be bothered to show evidence at all) to support their argument that forcing ISPs into the role of content nannies is a great idea. Privately however, newly leaked MPAA documents suggest the entertainment industry isn’t so sure six strikes is doing much of anything.

The leaked documents show the program isn’t having quite the impact the MPAA would like, though again, unsurprisingly, the MPAA believes that’s only because the program isn’t big enough yet. While there’s the occasional attempt to suggest that offenders change their ways after receiving notices, the document then proceeds to note the MPAA actually has no idea if people change their behavior, since it’s possible they switched ISPs or are hiding their behavior via BitTorrent proxy services:

“The U.S. system is ?not yet at scale? or operating with ?enough education support? according to the MPAA. As a result the CAS has not made an ?impact on the overall [piracy] landscape…?No current information as to the behavior of users who appear to stop P2P infringement ? do not know whether [they are] migrating to other pirate systems or to lawful services,? the statement reads.”

The MPAA’s solution to this problem? Make Six Strikes bigger, bolder and thereby worse:

“Attainability as to existing programs boils down to whether ISPs will agree (a) to expand scale to levels that might impact overall P2P piracy, and (b) to enhance remedial measures so as to improve efficacy,? the MPAA writes.”

I’ve spoken to execs at two large ISPs who have admitted privately they know most pirates have simply started using proxy services, but the ISPs are playing along begrudgingly. Already a bit put off by the added paperwork, few are going to be keen on an a voluntary expansion of the program. As such, look for the entertainment industry to lobby heavily to have this year’s rewrite of the Communications Act include numerous new treasures aimed at ISP compliance of a plan expansion. Perhaps after that we can proceed to banning the use of VPNs and proxies entirely for the good of the nation?

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Companies: cci, mpaa

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Comments on “Hollywood Privately Acknowledges Six Strikes Program Isn't Doing Much, Guaranteeing It Will Get Much Worse”

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Beech says:


“The U.S. system is “not yet at scale” or operating with “enough education support” according to the MPAA. “

Why do they always try to bring education into it? In general, college students are extremely well educated and extremely likely to pirate. In specific, the more I learn about the MPAAssholes, the more I want to pirate. I think they need whatever the opposite of education is.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Edumacation

The best comparison is Reefer Madness, fitting to compare a film to the wrong-headed moves of the movie industry. A film most likely made in all earnestness, but which was so ridiculously hyperbolic and counter to anyone’s actual experience of the subject that it because at best a laughing stock. At worst, it was advertising the product it was trying to propagandise against.

But, we are dealing with companies beholden to stockholders, and they won’t take kindly to “people are pirating because we’re refusing to sell them the product they want” or “we need to fundamentally change the way we do business” or even “some people just prefer videogames”, so the misdirection will continue for now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Edumacation

Hollywood has a long history of drug abuse. When discussing issues with the pro-IP shills around here it quickly becomes apparent that they aren’t the most intelligent people around. So why they would be promoting ‘education’ when they themselves are obviously not very intelligent drug addicts is beyond me. I guess it’s one of those ‘do as I say not as I do’ type of things. They want others to be educated and intelligent even though they themselves don’t seem to be very intelligent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Edumacation

Perhaps a solution is to hire better shills. Then again better shills probably cost more and if the MPAA treats their shills like they treat their artists it’s no wonder why they don’t seem to be very excited about doing a good job. Low cost shills probably don’t care all that much about their jobs. Maybe they should start a shilling union and go on strike with picket signs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Edumacation

I think you’re misunderstanding… their “education” is propaganda materials passed along from the ISP to their customers so they can be “educated” in a way similar to brainwashing…

This type of “education” occurs in college too, of course, but that isn’t what they’re talking about here.

Beech says:

Re: Re: Edumacation

Well yeah, but it’s an image i just cant picture. “Hey, those MPAA guys just made some really good points. I think I’ll stop pirating now” …said no one ever.

I mean, NO ONE is going to go torrent a movie fully believing it’s a legit activity. they know whoever paid to make that movie will be getting no money out of them. So how is it they seem to think that there’s some combination of words that will “educate” people to stop getting everything they want for free?

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: Edumacation

Let’s face it, X strikes programs ARE education programs. They:

1. Inform people that their online activities are being intercepted, monitored, and fed to various private and public organizations without their knowledge or consent.
2. Motivate people to take corrective actions to avoid said surveillance, and provide feedback if the avoidance actions taken are ineffective. No doubt, these newfound skills are shared among groups of friends in direct proportion to the severity of the notifications and/or enforcement.
3. Help the public understand just how greedy and short-sighted the entertainment industry really is.

We should cheer on any group who can help accomplish these laudable goals. Maybe EFF should list CCI as a resource for educating the public about the importance of privacy and freedom?

Anonymous Coward says:

While there’s the occasional attempt to suggest that offenders change their ways after receiving notices, the document then proceeds to note the MPAA actually has no idea if people change their behavior, since it’s possible they switched ISPs or are hiding their behavior via BitTorrent proxy services:

Technically, switching ISPs, or moving to proxy services is the pirates changing their behavior. It’s just not the change the MPAA desires.

TruthHurts (profile) says:

Let's fix a few other thngs first.

First off, Hollywood accounting practices.

Let’s get these fixed, use 3rd party accounting firms that make bonuses derived from 10% of any hidden / redirected profits they uncover.

MPAA – let’s get this disbanded by filing Rico act violations against all the members and have their puling lawyers arrested for all of the illegal antics they’ve committed.

DMCA takedown notices – let’s put some teeth into a law purposely written to prevent false takedown notices from being submitted. Penalty? All copyrights and patents owned by the person or persons or corporation that files the takedown notice. Any person acting as an agent for an entity will make that entity the target of the penalty.
The first time Sony or an agent thereof, files a DMCA takedown for something that isn’t there’s, all of Sony’s Copyrights and patents become public domain, instantly, with absolutely no recourse for removal from public domain.

Anonymous Coward says:

We said it wouldnt work. We implied that this was a way to get something “reasonable” through the door first and then make it worse later. They said it was’nt. Now look where we are……..follow the logic, its gonna get much worse……….they’ll either win and we’re fked, or we win and they’re fked……personally im hoping for the latter……a swift kick so far up their backsides sounds about justifiable

Jack says:

This would disappear if people cared

If this gets any worse and people actually start caring (like if they start throttling after x number of strikes), if consumers simply threaten to switch ISPs and occasionally follow through when they are capable, ISPs will stop doing this. If they are losing paying customers because some absurd “monitoring” company said their customer “stole” some poor, unknown company’s IP, this whole thing will fall apart. Hell, just having huge numbers of people calling and complaining will cost ISPs lots of money – customers don’t even need to switch.

If the MPAA expands this and give it teeth, it’ll fall apart very quickly.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: This would disappear if people cared

“if consumers simply threaten to switch ISPs and occasionally follow through when they are capable”

I wonder what percentage of the population has more than 1 or 2 broadband ISPs available to them. I don’t, I have 1, and lots of commenters here say that they’re in the same position.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: This would disappear if people cared

Let’s see what’s in my area (a big city):

1 cable network – speed good;

1 telephone DSL network – speed OK;

1 wireless broadband – speed OK but service unreliable;

1 satellite network – speed unreliable and you have to watch zoning laws for the required satellite antenna;

3 cellular networks – speed OK but you have to watch pricing and bandwidth;

unknown number of 56k dial-up networks (they actually still exist?).

So I do have choices. It’s just that most of them SUCK!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This would disappear if people cared

Ah, according to my own sensibilities, satellite and cellular networks don’t qualify as broadband at all. Wireless broadband qualifies (but isn’t in my area) — but I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. Dialup certainly doesn’t qualify by anyone’s standards.

So by my reckoning, you have a choice of two broadband providers.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Venezuela Will Be There

Back around 1930, when audio radio broadcasting was the big market, a station down in Mexico could simply crank up its power, and reach most of the United States, the signal being bounced back and forth between the earth and the ionosphere. There was nothing much which could be done about it under American law, and Mexican law was… unresponsive. The United States actually had invaded Mexico in 1916, in pursuit of the warlord Pancho Villa, when he started robbing banks in the United States, and the United States Army knew just how costly that had been, and how slight the results. So… nothing doing there, either.

During the cold war, the United States broadcast to various communist countries, and these countries electronically jammed the signals if they could. However, that was about all they could do. War is simply too costly to be a practical response to radio signals.

With television, offshore pirate broadcasting became irrelevant, because the technical characteristics of television required a much shorter range. When satellites came along, they were initially an attribute of superpower status. However, the truth is that a space rocket is not particularly complicated or expensive by the standards of, say, an Airbus.

On available information, Venezuela has placed an order with the Chinese for three television broadcasting satellites.

See: Peter Wilson, “Falling Oil Prices Push Venezuela Deeper Into China’s Orbit.” Business Week, December 12, 2014


The information is not very detailed, but, given that Venezuela already has excellent undersea cable connections (presumably including the new cable the Chinese are running around South America), it is a fair inference what the satellites are going to be used for.

Long ago, in my youth, I went to Prep School with a bunch of Venezuelan boys, and I think I have a certain understanding of the Venezuelan mind. I know a number of words which are not in the dictionary, and the proper gestures to use with them. There are two Spanish idioms, which are practically untranslatable in their larger sense, “pudoner” (point-of-honor) and “me vivo” (hurray for me). Hugo Chavez always seemed like a kind of projection of my old friends, the common ground that all Venezuelan men find when they let loose their inner twelve-year-old. If you give my old friends Ricardo and Alexandro a broadcasting satellite to play with, I have a fairly good idea of what they will do with it. I assure you they won’t feel any compulsion to be bound by Norteamericano rules. There will be pirate signals coming down from the sky which no one can do anything about, which can be picked up by anyone inclined to turn his dish to the right angle.

Under those circumstances, “six strikes” will rapidly become irrelevant.

Anonymous Coward says:

the thing that can get worse, more than anything else, is the entertainment industries continuing failure to do what they know they should and will have to eventually, or face failure. people are not going to continually do what the industries want, they are going to progress and if those industries dont or dont want to, then so be it, fail miserably!! the continuous slagging off, suing, fining, bankrupting and jailing of people for doing what you wont is ridiculous! sooner or later it is going to come to the notice of someone who is not in the pocket(s) of the industries, unlike many in government, and serious questions are going to be asked! questions like ‘why are you purposefully doing nothing to prevent your media from getting to the internet in the first place, let alone purposefully allowing it to be downloaded, just so you can sue people?’ is this not something very similar to ‘bait and switch’?

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m fed up with all the whining cry baby shit fits the entertainment industry keeps throwing. Right after 6 strikes came out I went to a VPN. Not because I download but rather I resent the idea of my ISP doing any sort of spying on my surfing habits. This way I know Sandvine isn’t going to help them know what sites I surf or even what I am interested in.

As long as this keeps up I will continue to run a VPN. I happen to like my privacy.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Its not worked the first 100 times, POUR MORE MONEY ON IT!!!

Then we can justify everyone’s salary increases, because we are doing more to fix the “problem” rather than deal with the reality of we are to focused on keeping control forever over content we “sell” that we forgot we are supposed to give consumers what they want.

How many millions will keep being poured into the **AA’s before someone dares ask why?
They can never deliver what they promise and those wasted millions could have developed digital marketplaces that would have beat Apple, Google, Amazon to the punch… but the technology is scary bad juju that we must fight to stop.

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