Can Someone Explain Why It Should Be An ISP's Responsibility To Deal With File Sharing?

from the it's-a-simple-question dept

Last week, we noted that there was some draft legislation in the UK making the rounds that would have ISPs ban people found to have participated in unauthorized file sharing. Some people responded by saying that this was just a draft and there was no chance it was going to go anywhere. However, the UK's Culture Secretary Andy Burnham is now saying that the government is quite serious about pushing this legislation through, and that ISPs would be wise to implement such a system voluntarily before the government acts: "Let me make it absolutely clear: this is a change of tone from the Government. It's definitely serious legislative intent." What he doesn't make clear, however, is why it should be the ISPs' responsibility to prop up someone else's business model. What's next? Will they push automakers to fight back against bankrobbers who use getaway cars?

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  • identicon
    claire rand, 22 Feb 2008 @ 10:32am

    liability

    in exactly the same way the telephone company is liable if you say something horrid, or if you use dial up for your data stream. oh and your car maker if you park illegally, the library if you get a dangerous idea, the maker of your stereo if someone other than yourself hears a song.

    except of course gun makers, who are not liable for the twits who can't use a gun

    i realise the last point could be a tad contentious, it does i feel make the point. a provider of a service should not be liable for what people do with that service.

    people *are* liable for their own actions, or should be

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      drjones78, 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:53pm

      Re: liability

      Hey, I kind of like the idea....

      We could carry that train of thought to the highways... and make the government liable anytime I speed, or drive drunk!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Scorpiaux, 24 Feb 2008 @ 9:44am

      Re: liability

      "a provider of a service should not be liable for what people do with that service." - claire rand

      The generalities on this site are breathtaking.

      I suppose a drug distributor isn't liable either for what people do with the drug which he or she purchased from a drug manufacturer and sold to those people.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        DanC, 25 Feb 2008 @ 5:15pm

        Re: Re: liability

        "I suppose a drug distributor isn't liable either for what people do with the drug which he or she purchased from a drug manufacturer and sold to those people."

        'Drug' is a very vague. Are you suggesting that a company like Walmart that purchases Tylenol is liable for actions of consumers that purchase the Tylenol from them? It fits your statement.

        Or are we only talking about illegal drugs? In that case, your example doesn't really apply. The distributor is breaking the law, the drugs are illegal, and the people buying the drugs are breaking the law. Also, there isn't any real question of the drug's legality. In most cases they're either legal or illegal. That doesn't hold true for copyright.

        ISPs are already immune from prosecution under the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, and there's no good reason to force or persuade them to filter content.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, 22 Feb 2008 @ 10:39am

    random question

    would this law allow me to download anything I want until I get banned and switch to another ISP and repeat? or would this law force the ISP to police their networks needlessly since the government is still going to punish the user anyway?

    And no one has ever explained how the ISP will know the difference between a legally shared file and an illegal one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2008 @ 11:11am

      Re: random question

      I'd like to know what the ISP's recourse is. Banning their clients? Financially speaking, how exactly will they keep motivated to do this?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2008 @ 11:32am

      Re: random question

      My understanding is that the UK version of the RIAA will hop around on filesharing networks collecting IP addresses and sending complaints to the ISPs, who then send warnings and eventually drop you. What hasn't been noted was (1) how you validate a claim to make sure an IP address doesn't make it in erroneously, and (2) as noted below if the ISPs are kicking off customers, what's the financial incentive to keep them in the game? They get no reward for enforcing the Recrding Industry's policies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Iron Chef, 22 Feb 2008 @ 10:53am

    Part of it is the steamroller that is called "Generation Y" The other part of is the Boomer Generation who is running the teleco or writing the law, who doesn't quite understand. I think few understand.

    It's interesting observing the freshers.

    http://www.businessedge.ca/article.cfm/newsID/17023.cfm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pessimistic Paul, 22 Feb 2008 @ 11:08am

    Excuses

    Its just an excuse to crawl up yer knickers.
    This will not stop the activity it is supposedly targeting, any nitwit can see that. All it will do is irritate the law abiding folk and provide a means to an end for the "man".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    FlyingMongoose, 22 Feb 2008 @ 11:10am

    It isn't

    It is not, nor should it be in any way the responsibility of the ISP to stop file sharing. ISP's should not be allowed to snoop, prevent or block us from doing anything, we pay for a service, they should not have access to know what we do because of it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James, 22 Feb 2008 @ 11:31am

    Hmmm..

    ..and whom will these idiot record and media companies blame once such a law passes and they still can't sell their crap?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Berend Reitsma, 22 Feb 2008 @ 11:37am

    Bankrobbers

    What's next? Will they push automakers to fight back against bankrobbers who use getaway cars?

    You got it completely wrong. The road management is responsible of course. They should make sure that these crooks are stopped as soon as they enter the road.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2008 @ 11:41am

    Trying to make the ISPs control illegal file sharing is like trying to make the state highway departments try to track down people transporting stolen goods on their roads. They simply provide the means of transportation, and dictate what kinds of vehicles can travel on those roads. There is no way they can control what kinds of goods are transported as long as the vehicles used are legal. It should be perfectly clear by now that some form of online policing agency is needed, but trying to turn the ISPs into such agencies is completely the wrong way to go about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, 22 Feb 2008 @ 11:58am

    Differing metaphors

    The metaphor behind this bill: "ISPs carry and deliver data, just as trucks (or lorries, since it's the UK) carry and deliver cargo. We regulate how they treat cargo, especially if it's hazardous. Obviously, prudence calls for us regulate how ISPs treat data."

    The metaphor used by technology professionals: "ISPs provide you with a communication channel, just as the phone company provides a phone line. We don't make the phone company step in if you say something naughty. Obviously, ISPs should not police what you say electronically."

    Yes, we're back to "The Internet isn't a dump truck, it's a series of tubes." But all the mockery surrounding statements like that is obscuring the fact that the competing metaphor does exist, it is going to produce legislation like this, and arguing that one metaphor is "right" and another is "wrong" isn't going to do a thing about it. All you can do is start by understanding the mental model behind the legislation, and work from there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mastmaker, 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:05pm

    As Ted Stevens noted, internet is just a series of tubes. So, the party responsible to filter out the illegal file shares is not the ISP, but the plumber.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Deb, 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:09pm

    Same reason it's the car company's fault you speed.

    They give the ability to do X, so of course they have to take it away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:11pm

    Bars can get in trouble for having drugs sold in their establishment by drug dealers not connected to the bar. Hotels get in trouble for allowing prostitutes use their facilities for prostitution. Airlines were supposed to provide security for its customers before 9/11. Printers can and do enforce copyright issues when it comes to printing books or photographs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      LJSeinfeld, 22 Feb 2008 @ 10:05pm

      Re:

      O'Rllly? That's the best argument you can come up with.. I hope your next RIAA paycheck bounces... IF they spent less money on this (and other) kind of foolishness and more money working on a business model that would be acceptable to modern society at large, maybe they wouldn't be "hurting" for money.

      Illicit drugs, prostitution, and 9/11 have NOTHING in common with filesharing.

      But nice strawman anyhow...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    zcat, 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:14pm

    Trucks?

    You missed the other obvious metaphor; should London Transport be held responsible if you carry pirated CDs on 'the tube'?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TriZz, 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:25pm

    It's really not that hard to understand...

    ...or maybe I'm over simplifying it, to which point, this is the Internet and my fault will inevitably be pointed out.

    I would like to think that IF I used your website as a means to post cryptic comments that would eventually lead the reader or decrypter to a drug deal, that would invoke a permanent ban from posting on your site.

    It's a service that you're providing (free or not) and I'm sure there is a TOS in place somewhere (I don't feel like searching).

    Wouldn't that be similar? Even though TechDirt would NOT be liable for the drug deal that happened as a result of my messages, you certainly would not want me back to your site.

    Perhaps that's why the ISPs should deny illegal file sharers access to their networks. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding? I only read the summaries...I mean, isn't the government only implementing something that should be in place already?

    I ask because a friend of mine got busted for 'seeding out' a movie that was still in the theaters (I am Legend) and his ISP sent him an email saying that they know what he's doing and if the activity doesn't stop by X date/time that they would cancel his service and no longer provide access for him (which I don't think is all that harsh, I mean...It's better than a gynormous fine).

    So, if the ISPs in the UK are being lax about filesharing (unlike my friend's ISP) ... is it really THAT big of a deal that the government steps up. Illegal filesharing is still illegal (not stealing) ... and it is the Government's place to uphold the law of the land, or have I missed something?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chronno S. Trigger, 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:42pm

      Re: It's really not that hard to understand...

      That's like the US government forcing WalMart to stop selling M rated games to minors. It's a policy that should already be in place but is not presently government regulated. As long as it's an internal policy it's ok, but once it becomes a law it goes against the first amendment.

      Now I don't know if the UK has the same kind of protection for their citizens, but I can imagine, since this guy is basically threatening the ISPs, they do and this law probably won't pass.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Overcast, 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:26pm

    That's fine - ban people. Maybe they will get out of the house, quit spending so much time on the Net, watching TV, and listening to music - spend money elsewhere completely.

    I know it wouldn't really hurt much.. :)

    So in essence - it's not only getting rid of ISP customers, but customers for any web-based business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Genny Pershing, 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:35pm

    Carriers as Man in the Middle

    You ask the question "why should it be the ISPs responsibility..."

    First, as a matter of legal theory, you seem to assume legal notions that are about 200 years out of date - about how responsibility is imposed.

    A modern legal theory is known as law and economics. The assumption of law and economics is to maximize economic production and public welfare. The question of responsibility becomes - not one of fault - but who can most efficiently and economically solve the problem.

    This theory came to favor during the industrial revolution. A train goes through farmland, throwing sparks which result in fires. Whose "responsibility" is it to stop the sparks? Is it the trains which could basically not run without throwing sparks, or is it the farms which could build fences or move the crops back. Whichever could mitigate the harm most economically efficiently had the "responsibility" (duty). A failure of that duty resulted in liability.

    If it is assumed that copyright theft through P2P is a problem (you seem to question this too - but one question at a time), then the question of responsibility is answered by what party can most efficiently address the problem while maximizing public welfare - not whose fault it is.

    This is not to say (or not say) ISPs should be put in this role. This is to respond to your question "when did it become their responsibility."

    Finally, I would note historically carriers have played this role. Telegraphs. Telephone. Postal. These are all carriers that sit in a unique position in the economy where they are able to engage in activity for the public good. This includes wiretap and refusals to carry goods declared contraband by the government. ISPs role in this is no different than any carrier before them.

    Now I can make dozens of compelling arguments as to why putting this responsibility on ISPs would be ineffective and contrary to public welfare - We will end up losing the open nature of the Internet with a sledge hammer solution that will miss its target. But I do not question the premise that putting ISPs in these roles is within the realm of the conceivable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:44pm

    Why does everyone make such a big deal about file sharing? It has been around way before the internet remember the mailed tapes of new songs ect? Yes its illegal but the more you talk about something the more people do it. If the government would give some the public may give more money back! I download things if i like it i will pay for it or tell others to get it to purchase it.. I never liked norton antivirus tried it in 2002 and been buying it ever sense this year it cost me 300$ i didnt steal it i paid per machine.. If i wasnt able to try it in 2002 i would of never became a customer

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Steve R. (profile), 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:45pm

    Who has the right to demand filtering?

    For the sake of argument, lets assume that filtering is a legal mandate.

    If John Doe (a member of the general public) finds some content he does not like or content he believes he owns is being illegally shared on the internet, will he be able to demand that the ISP filter this data?

    Furthermore how would the ISP even know if the entity demanding the use of a filter has a "legitimate" right to have that data filtered?

    Obviously this will also raise the issue of "equality" since the ISP can not possibly satiate everyone's desire for protective filtering. To paraphrase Orwell some content owners will be more equal than others. The small artist probably won't get filtering protection and will starve but the RIAA will get it and the RIAA managers will enjoy their Hawaiian vacation homes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Steve R. (profile), 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:54pm

      A New Business Opportunity

      Since there would be probably be a threshold level for what can or can not be filtered by the ISPs, the RIAA could get into the business of "selling" filtering opportunities to the small artists who are under the threshold to assure that their content is "protected". Capitalism at its best.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Xan, 22 Feb 2008 @ 12:49pm

    Seems kind of odd

    As was alluded too earlier, what incentive do the ISP's have in enforcing this? It just seems odd that laws would be passed that would force ISP's to lose money by banning customers so that the RIAA won't lose money. What makes them so special that their business model would be protected by law, but not the ISP's business model?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mike allen, 22 Feb 2008 @ 1:00pm

    mike you missed

    the point mentioned was 6 million file shearers that estimate probally low what ISP can afford to lose 6 million customers

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mr. Fix it, 22 Feb 2008 @ 1:02pm

    for the same reasons that the weapon manufacturers are liable for the murders that are committed with there weapons.


    OH wait they aren't!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 22 Feb 2008 @ 1:27pm

    So how long

    before they start kicking people off for using the system that their greater union is making?

    http://techdirt.com/articles/20080220/120359305.shtml

    EU invests, and the UK doesn't want to allow anyone to access it? Maybe the EU will give them the smack down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Poomer, 22 Feb 2008 @ 1:29pm

    quick reply...

    sorry for bad english and broken sentences...in a hurry

    you cant compare service with commodities. isp vs gun manufacturers.apples and highway.

    the question is why did they come to this decision?

    internet service disrupts other laws such as copyright. the solution, try suing the websites which enable filesharing. this becomes long and tedious legal battle. wrong outcome can have disastrous consequences.

    so taking the easy route go to the source. make isp find and ban users (personally, its not a good idea) - conflict of interest. unless the incentives from the government/other sources (such as RIAA etc) are higher than the loss in customers
    or
    have government provide the internet -? worse.

    u want to sell something - make it the right value and i will buy it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2008 @ 2:11pm

    It's so ISP's can monitor your traffic and the NSA and can join in on the eavesdropping. Plus, there's tons of lobbyist money to be had by the politicians. It's a win/win situation for the lawmakers. Unfortunately, for those in the real world, it sucks, as usual.

    Burn Hollywood, BURN!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    darrylxxx, 22 Feb 2008 @ 2:24pm

    UK creative industries strategy

    This nonsense seems to come from this newly published strategy for the UK's creative industries http://tinyurl.com/26buuc

    Much of the rest of the document is actually quite encouraging for creative industries, but this sticks out like a sore thumb.

    "Fostering and protecting intellectual property
    We will consult on legislation that would require internet service providers and rights holders to co-operate in taking action on illegal file sharing – with a view to implementing legislation by April 2009. Finding voluntary, preferably commercial solutions, remains the ideal, but the Government will equip itself to introduce legislation swiftly if suitable arrangements between ISPs and relevant sectors are not forthcoming or prove insufficient.We will also explore tougher penalties for copyright infringement. These actions signal the Government’s strong support for the creative industries as we move towards a fully digital world."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Iron Chef, 22 Feb 2008 @ 9:48pm

      Re: UK creative industries strategy

      This nonsense seems to come from this newly published strategy for the UK's creative industries http://tinyurl.com/26buuc

      Much of the rest of the document is actually quite encouraging for creative industries, but this sticks out like a sore thumb.


      Wow Darylxxx, that has to be the best, most straightforward lifecycle-driven piece of research I've seen an industry take to their product! If it goes forward, it could be a model for other industries. Kudos on finding that!

      I remain certain that if the processes were intentionally created with the overall intent of "Make it easier to legitimately license content", they may find that the legislation piece just adds a large amount of unneeded overhead costs to the entire programme.

      Great Find.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2008 @ 2:55pm

    Bring it. I'm going to copywrite a video of me playing bass. I'll anonymously seed it. Subsequently I'll sue the ISP's for my loss.
    Har Har Mate

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me, 22 Feb 2008 @ 3:51pm

    Gee, I hope they don't ban the guy in the building across the street whose open wireless connection I use. If bthey do that I'll have to switch to the open wireless connection of the apartment on the next floor and that building only has a dozen open connections available.

    That first guy had better get himself a new connection in the next year or so because that's about when I'd run out of ISP to use.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Khanzza, 23 Feb 2008 @ 12:13pm

    Responsibility

    The most obvious solution is to make musicians etc, responsible for curbing the downloading of copyrighted material since they are in fact responsible for making the said material in the first place. =O)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 24 Feb 2008 @ 12:59am

    And will the post office be required to refuse mail service to anyone who is caught sending copied CDs through the mail? If someone is caught discussing pirated music over the phone, will the phone company be required to permanently deny that person phone service?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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