The Unintended Consequences Of The Copyright Alerts System

from the creating-more-problems-then-you-solve dept

Since we've learned of the plan for so-called Six Strikes programs by ISPs, there has been protest and warnings from multiple sources about multiple issues. Accordingly, Daily Dot has a nice little piece about what sort of unintended consequences we can expect to come out of this plan. A couple of them are well-traveled ground here at Techdirt, including whether businesses will still offer WiFi when "pirates" naturally flock there to carry out their piratey actions. Likewise, we've discussed the importance of the Open Wireless movement, which will certainly take a massive hit if and when these ISP plans are spun up. All that being said, the third unintended consequence mentioned in the article is probably the most important, since it will render all of this an exercise in futility: greater adoption of privacy tools by the masses.
According to comments Lesser made at an Internet Society meeting in November 2012, the definition of who the CAS is after is extremely narrow, at least for its planned first iteration. It only tracks those who upload the most-popular copyrighted content, like blockbuster movies and best-selling albums, via the peer-to-peer service BitTorrent, and it only identifies them by their Internet protocol (IP) addresses. That's it. So pirates who can avoid BitTorrent, or peer-to-peer altogether, or download without uploading (a major faux pas on some torrent sites), or hide their IP addresses, will avoid detection.
Learning to conceal one’s IP address is already a major point of Internet activism, for reasons that have nothing to do with piracy. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, for instance, suggests bloggers in dangerous parts of the world hide their IP addresses to ensure their anonymity from authoritarian governments.
In other words, these plans will spark an interest in privacy tools designed to get around the "strikes". It's an arms race that essentially cannot be won, because every new tactic simply spurs the growth of interest in counter-tactics and probably leaves the average computer user even more prepared for the next attempt than they would have been otherwise. This type of thing likely creates tech-saavy people where there previously would have been none. Meanwhile, businesses and WiFi device owners will close off access out of fear.

Torrent Freak backs this key point up, noting how few bittorrent users are currently masking their IP addresses and making the case that that number is going to jump after Six Strikes begins.
BitTorrent proxies and VPN services are the preferred way for people to remain anonymous while downloading. These services replace a user’s home IP-address with one provided by the proxy service, making it impossible for tracking companies to identify who is doing the file-sharing. In the U.S. 16% of all file-sharers already hide their IP-address, and this is likely to increase when the copyright alert system goes live.
What's missing from all of this is exactly how any of these plans are going to get previous "pirates" to turn into paying customers for media companies. History suggests they will not do so, will not curb piracy, and will in fact only annoy people who like open WiFi connections and prepare users for the next round of the race all the more. If there were a more perfect definition of a plan that achieves nothing except collateral damage than 6 strikes legislation, I cannot imagine what it'd be.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:20am

    Not learning from past mistakes

    Any rational person would look at the failure of French 3 strikes plan and say, this is a bad idea to implement elsewhere. I am convinced that the MPAA and RIAA are pushing this forward so they can say "look we are doing something" to maintain their funding.

    The companies funding these groups (MPAA, RIAA, etc) should begin taking a results based funding approach. Or perhaps they should just look at the past 100 years of results, and determine if they should continue funding them.

     

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

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:34am

    What's to stop them from tallying a 'strike' regardless of whether a proxy us used or not. Isn't it still a guilty till proven innocent system?

     

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  3.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:42am

    Not unintended

    A couple of [the unintended consequences] are well-traveled ground here at Techdirt, including whether businesses will still offer WiFi when "pirates" naturally flock there to carry out their piratey actions. Likewise, we've discussed the importance of the Open Wireless movement, which will certainly take a massive hit if and when these ISP plans are spun up.


    I don't think these are unintended at all. I think they're part of an intentional effort to reduce the usefulness of the internet.

     

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

  4.  
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    MikeW (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:42am

    Re: Not learning from past mistakes

    "The companies funding these groups (MPAA, RIAA, etc) should begin taking a results based funding approach. Or perhaps they should just look at the past 100 years of results, and determine if they should continue funding them."

    AAACK! Someone is using common sense! They must be a pirate and a pirate sympathizer! Burn them!

    Seriously, though. Results based approach? Who needs that when you can ruin innocent people's lives just fine the old way?

     

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  5.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:44am

    Re:

    They still have to know who to tally the strike against. A proxy hides the endpoint, making such identification very difficult.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    Re: Not unintended

    No, they're part of keeping the uppity masses down. Look st the education system, deliberately removing people from the usefulness of the Internet by claiming it's a Wild West when it really isn't. The Internet is ethic-neutral.

    And the fact that it's neutral means that the uppity masses can use it as well as the Old Guard.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 8:59am

    I'm betting most copyright maximalists don't even bother with these things. They probably think ah we will stop it by just making it a bit more annoying. And yes if anything ISP's won't be able to do anything after a few people get some strikes. I can tell you if I happen to get one which I shouldn't but if I somehow do I for sure am going to get far more involved in hiding my IP.

     

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  8.  
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    jameshogg (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:02am

    The next logical step by the government is to attack the VPNs. And any such attack could put dissidents across the world in great danger.

    But anything is justified in the name of copyright law, right?

     

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  9.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:06am

    Re:

    That's just the excuse given. The real issue here is creating an American firewall that puts the Chinese firewall to shame.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:17am

    EA Board of Directors

    Since EA customer service and EA management aren't interested in customer satisfaction, why not look further up the chain of command. Perhaps the EA Board of Directors might be interested in an issue that affects their long-term ability attract returning customers. http://investor.ea.com/contactBoard.cfm

    On second thought, I see that the EA Board chairman, Lawrence Probst is also Chairman of the Board of the US Olympic Committee - another organization that doesn't really care what their fans think.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re:

    I was more concerned on whether they are simply going to just just use a shotgun approach. There is no negative sequences of false accusation. Why not do it that way?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:31am

    Re: EA Board of Directors

    Uh... wrong article dude.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:40am

    Re: Re: EA Board of Directors

    Oops.

     

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

  14.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Not unintended

    Yes, I believe we're saying the same thing, just using different words.

     

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

  15.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, yes, you're right. They certainly are.

     

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

  16.  
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    Machin Shin (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Not unintended

    See, this is exactly the kind of thing that has to be stopped. People going all crazy and thinking for themselves, coming up with different ways to say the same thing.... Its madness, it must be stopped!

    /sarc

     

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

  17.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 10:34am

    "It only tracks those who upload the most-popular copyrighted content, like blockbuster movies and best-selling albums,"

    I thought this was interesting. I've seen a few indie artist voice their support of this system, yet it won't prevent people from downloading their music.

    Oh, Hollywood will you ever stop being so seedy?

     

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

  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 10:38am

    Wasnt this whole agreement set up when sopa looked like a sure thing? I doubt they really want to go thro with it for fear of the customers. Just have to see how it all plays out

     

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  19.  
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    robin, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 12:33pm

    It's Already Begun

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/01/28/1645252/how-proxied-torrents-could-end-isp-subpoenas

    While still theory at this point, my bet is with some very clever developers. The Comcasts and Warner Bros. of the world have yet to out-manoeuvre them.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    robin, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 12:34pm

    It's Already Begun

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/01/28/1645252/how-proxied-torrents-could-end-isp-subpoenas

    While still theory at this point, my bet is with some very clever developers. The Comcasts and Warner Bros. of the world have yet to out-manoeuvre them.

     

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

  21.  
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    ahow628 (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Bad, but good...

    I've been saying this for a while that I consider this to be a somewhat good thing. There are many things that we do on the internet that are just plain unsecure (email, http browsing, bit torrent) and I see this as a good thing as it will push us to create more secure protocols and procedures.

    It is really unfortunate that this has to be the impetus for introducing more secure measures, but these tribulations will lead to a stronger internet.

     

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

  22.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:41pm

    Where's AJ (or the guy who walks like AJ, quacks like AJ, but is sooo not a duck...I mean AJ) saying that this is all right, that no-one's being accused of breaking the law, that its the ISPs contracting out the accusations to outside companies?

     

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  23.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    Fourth Unintended Consequence

    If someone gets cut off the internet, or severely throttled, they might decide "Oh, well, I better stop pirating so I can get my internet access back. Now, let's see, I can't buy any music because it's all online and I have no internet. Oh, and I can't rent a movie because it's all done on the internet. I'd buy a book but...."

    So, how does this actually help the big entertainment industries again?

     

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

  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Bad, but good...

    Unfortunately using encryption on public torrents is less effective than its use as DRM. The decryption key has to be made available to all down-loaders. A VPN would work, so long as it is in a jurisdiction where the MAFIAA can't serve notices and get ISPs to throttle connections.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not unintended

    In America, there seems to be a concerted effort to remove all forms of actual information from the general public. From Telcos who charge exorbitant prices for less service than places like Nigeria, to "news" outlets that are the least honest things in the world, to a "transparent government" that is a thousand times more opaque than gunmetal-black painted windows.

     

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

  26.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 29th, 2013 @ 5:07pm

    I'll just leave this here...
    http://dietrolldie.com/2013/01/28/lipscomb-fishing-co-or-exculpatory-evidence-request/

    I call your attention to number 10 on the list of troll demands.
    Funny how corporate law is going to be jumping into real law.

     

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

  27.  
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    you don't need my name, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 11:19pm

    Re: It's Already Begun

    No need "clever".

    All you need is one usb drive and a social life.

     

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

  28.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 3:19am

    Re: Re: Not learning from past mistakes

    Don Quixote must be proud of the MAFIAA!

     

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

  29.  
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    ahow628 (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 6:06am

    Re: Re: Bad, but good...

    I understand what you are saying, but you are talking about combining technology we currently have. What I was getting at was that at some point, new technology will be developed that will cure the current ills in the system.

    It may be awhile, but it will happen.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    babafet, Jan 31st, 2013 @ 11:03am

    Death to STarbucks

    This move will kill Starbucks as we know it.

     

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


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