The Music Industry Now Wants To Creep Past Site-Blocking Into App-Blocking

from the creepers-gonna-creep dept

With site-blocking now fully en vogue in much of the world as the preferred draconian solution to copyright infringement, one point we’ve made over and over again is that even this extreme measure has no hope of fully satisfying the entertainment industries. Once thought something of a nuclear option, the full censorship of websites will now serve as a mere stepping stone to the censorship of all kinds of other platforms that might sometimes be used for piracy. It was always going to be this way, from the very moment that world governments creaked open this door.

And it appears it isn’t taking long for the entertainment industries to want to take that next step, either. As the debate about Kodi addons rages, and as governments begin to clamp down on the platform at the request of the entertainment industry, several industry players at an IP forum event in Russia have started announcing plans to push for app-blocking as the next step.

Over in Russia, a country that will happily block hundreds or millions of IP addresses if it suits them, the topic of infringing apps was raised this week. It happened during the International Strategic Forum on Intellectual Property, a gathering of 500 experts from more than 30 countries. There were strong calls for yet more tools and measures to deal with films and music being made available via ‘pirate’ apps.

The forum heard that in response to widespread website blocking, people behind pirate sites have begun creating applications for mobile devices to achieve the same ends – the provision of illegal content. This, key players in the music industry say, means that the law needs to be further tightened to tackle the rising threat.

“Consumption of content is now going into the mobile sector and due to this we plan to prevent mass migration of ‘pirates’ to the mobile sector,” said Leonid Agronov, general director of the National Federation of the Music Industry.

Look, all of that is true. Innovation happens often at the margins when it comes to technology, after all, and the technology that powers piracy is no exception to this rule. At the same time, neither the entertainment industry nor the governments of the world have ever, even once, shown themselves to be good or fair arbiters of what tools are “pirate tools” and which are legitimate tools that sometimes are used for piracy. If given the power, both will overshoot the mark, with entertainment groups carpet-bombing their way to collateral damage just to be sure that pirates are obliterated, and governments all too often using this copyright censorship as cover to enact oppressive censorship on matters of pure politics.

In other words, it’s not that the entertainment industry is wrong that there is some measure of a problem to be dealt with, it’s just that their censorious solution creates way more problems than it solves.

Despite that, the music industry, in particular, is banging its war drum.

The same concerns were echoed by Alexander Blinov, CEO of Warner Music Russia. According to TASS, the powerful industry player said that while recent revenues had been positively affected by site-blocking, it’s now time to start taking more action against apps.

“I agree with all speakers that we can not stop at what has been achieved so far. The music industry has a fight against illegal content in mobile applications on the agenda,” Blinov said.

This is not an arms race that the content industry has shown it is capable of winning. But while they beat these war drums for evermore censorship, the unintended consequences are strewn like bodies all around them. From Blinov’s home country of Russia, the government has been laughably inept at separating pirate site from non-pirate site to the tune of a ten-fold blocking of collateral damage sites, all while the government also uses those same copyright laws to shut down political speech and reporters it doesn’t like.

And it is in this climate that content companies want to hand even more blocking powers to the authorities? First they came for the websites, then they came for the mobile applications? Whatever comes after that is not something to look forward to.

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Comments on “The Music Industry Now Wants To Creep Past Site-Blocking Into App-Blocking”

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19 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s worse than that, they will do to the general public what they have done to the Bar/Tavern business. You will be assessed your music licensing fees whether you listen to “their” songs or not – you must pay “just in case” you might accidentally play one of “their” songs. And it is a performance because there are other ears in your home inclining your dog, cat, hamster, cockroaches, etc. Because they lack the resources to enforce such a draconian measure, they will ask the government to do it for them even though they have in the past proclaimed their distaste for regulation. Just more hypocrites.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

The Robustness Law

John Postel, may he RIP, an Internet pioneer who established standards, IANA, RFCs, and was an all-around great guy came up with what we now call the Robustness Principle:

Be conservative in what you do. Be liberal in what you accept. With these two standards he helped cement TCP/IP and the protocols that ride atop it (SMTP-email, POP3,IMAP-email reading, FTP-file transfer, and others) to success.

If protocol developers in 1973-1993 (TCP/IP creation to commercial Internet available) had to deal with an ever decreasing spiral of “what works” and if companies with a dollar (or ruble) here or there were constantly shrinking that orifice…

There’d be a puckered butthole instead of the Internet.

E

Christenson says:

App Blocking will fail because....

Meet me on KIK, I’ll tell you my IP, and you can HTTPS that dancing baby video at the center of Lenz v Universal Studios.

If they ratchet up the screws, well, guess what…this very innocuous-looking text post actually decodes to a musical version of “Happy Birthday To You”!

And we think “Fake news”, as in not knowing who to trust is bad now, with *some* decentralization…just wait until this censoriousness forces even *more* decentralization!

Anonymous Coward says:

When you say “apps”, are we talking about phone apps? Why would you even want to use a phone app for downloading copyrighted content, anyway? Seems like the worst platform for the job.

App repositories are heavily controlled from the top down, so anything that does something illegal is bound to be taken down sooner or later. Developers of piracy-related software are historically notorious for rolling in malware with their releases, as anyone who has worked with game cracks since the ’90s is aware. Phones don’t have nearly the same storage capacity as desktops and laptops, so you won’t have much room to store your downloads. Phones are a major target for exploits, OEMs are lying about updates and mitigations, nobody ever bothers to check the source code on their apps (not that the source is available on many of these, anyway) and they’re the first thing the cops confiscate when they arrest you.

Yeah, I think I’ll just stick with my BitTorrent client on my desktop. Bigger hard drive, trustworthy peer-reviewed software repositories, more control, better security, plus if I want to I can set up a remote interface so I can add downloads to the queue even when I’m not home.

Fuckin’ kids these days need an app for everything though, so I guess this is news. Don’t they realize that apps are merely frontends to websites and protocols?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You get Google, Amazon, and Apple to ban any such apps from their stores and go after bare APK hosts with legal threats.

Most of these services aren’t for downloading much content like you would using torrents on PCs with storage space only limited by your wallet. Phones and tablets don’t have the storage space to wholesale download pirated content. These apps are client programs to stream pirated media from servers like a pirate Netflix. While their use cases are theoretically legit (bare Kodi is really just a DVR and perfectly legal) the actual practical use are entirely for consuming pirated media (like some Kodi add-ons that are entirely for streaming pirate media).

So the author is somewhat correct that the technology is neutral, the implementation of that technology for certain apps is entirely to facilitate piracy. They only connect to pirate servers.

Avatar28 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I wouldn’t even call bare Kodi a DVR. It’s just a media player with a shitty interface. Like, seriously, whose idea was it to use the desktop-style interface on mobile. Just adding my seedbox as an FTP site takes about 5 minutes between trying to click on the tiny boxes and type in a password on keys smaller than my finger and which I can’t see what characters I’m actually typing. There’s also no way to cast it so I’m stuck watching things on a shitty 6 inch screen or dragging a laptop into the bedroom and disconnecting something to plug in the HDMI.

Anonymous Coward says:

Pirates are leaping to streaming and other new ways to steal.

Call me sane, but that’s the non-Techdirt, non-pirate, non-thief, non-addicted-to-stupid-content way to regard this.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s both funny and hideous that you pirates so desperately want their content that you regard any means or ways to prevent you from getting it — for free — as Absolute Evil. And on other hand, for me, this blocking isn’t necessary — and wouldn’t be even if they would pay me to watch their crap!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Pirates are leaping to streaming and other new ways to steal.

Yes, you are absolutely right in that the entire world is made up of only two types of people and everyone fits into one of those two categories. There is no middle and there is no gray, therefore there is no compromise – ever. It’s my way or the highway. Amirite?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Pirates are leaping to streaming and other new ways to steal.

What, you mean the RIAA and MPAA associated companies are still making content. What with podcasts, Jamendo and YouTube and other places where people self publish their content for free, I have totally lost track of what the legacy industry is producing these days.

If I am not hearing or seeing such content, I am most certainly not going to be looking to buy it.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

It's not the music industry

The original article (Torrentfreak) talks about the The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment. You are right in thinking “Wait, that’s not the music industry, that’s an IP legacy about to be obsolete trying to save itself by killing off innovation” group.

The article it cites points to Motion Picture Association [Canada] as the source of the information, and a request for Canada to join the blocking countries.

“There is every reason to believe that the website blocking measures [presented to the CRTC] will lead to the same beneficial results in Canada,” MPA Canada states.

Nowhere does it list what those beneficial results are, given that the blocks are hardly implemented in the majority of EU contries, and most (e.g. Piratebay) have other still-reachable sites.

I can’t wait for the next phase, where someone quotes The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment and lets us know if we don’t support blocking apps we’re against Creativity and Entertainment.

You wouldn’t want to be against Creativity and Entertainment… would you?

E

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