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Hollywood Studios Call Six Strikes A 'Sham,' Cue Plans For Something Much Worse

from the deep-well-of-dysfunction dept

When the entertainment and broadband industries' "six strikes" anti-piracy regime first launched a few years ago, most people (outside of Hollywood) realized it wouldn't work for a number of reasons. One, data has pretty consistently shown that such graduated response anti-piracy systems -- whether three "strikes" or six -- don't work, and in fact may actually make things worse. Two, even partner ISP execs I spoke to ahead of the program's launch made it clear they knew the program wouldn't do much, with most infringers simply hiding their behavior behind proxy servers of VPNs.

Publicly, the firm created to run the program (the Center for Copyright Information) has frequently tried to claim the program is a smashing success, often using unreliable, contradictory evidence to try and suggest pushing ISPs into the role of content nannies was a wonderful idea. But privately, Hollywood and the MPAA have acknowledged the program isn't doing much, though they're quick to argue that this is only because it hasn't yet been "brought up to scale."

Amusingly, some of the very same Hollywood voices that pushed so hard for six strikes and ignored warnings that it wouldn't work, are now calling the program an abject failure. The Internet Security Task Force, a coalition of smaller studios, which counts copyright troll Voltage Pictures among its members, has come out swinging this week against six strikes in a press release, calling the program a "sham":
"We’ve always known the Copyright Alert System was ineffective, as it allows people to steal six movies from us before they get an educational leaflet. But now we have the data to prove that it’s a sham," Gill comments. "On our film ‘Expendables 3,’ which has been illegally viewed more than 60 million times, the CAS only allowed 0.3% of our infringement notices through to their customers. The other 99.7% of the time, the notices went in the trash,” he adds."
One, ISTF doesn't appear to know how the program Hollywood pushed for actually works, since users receive an "educational leaflet" the first time they're found to infringe. Steps two through six then include "mitigation measures" that may involve having your connection throttled or finding your broadband access temporarily suspended until you've clearly acknowledged you've been naughty. Users then have the honor of paying a $35 fee if they'd like to fight the accusation. After the sixth strike nothing happens, and nobody tracks offenders between ISPs, something Hollywood is surely eager to "remedy" with program updates.

ISTF notes that the five major ISPs participating in six strikes (AT&T U-verse, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS), saw a 4.54% increase in infringements during the fourth quarter of last year. Two non-participating ISPs, Charter and Cox (the latter of which is being sued by BMG for allegedly ignoring piracy), saw a 25.47% decrease in infringements during that same period. Assuming you can trust Hollywood math here (never a wise bet), the ISTF claims this is proof of the fact that ISPs aren't taking piracy seriously:
"These alarming numbers show that the CAS is little more than talking point utilized to suggest these five ISPs are doing something to combat piracy when in actuality, their customers are free to continue pirating content with absolutely no consequences," said ISTF member Nicolas Chartier, CEO of Voltage. "As for its laughable six strikes policy, would any American retailer wait for someone to rob them six times before handing them an educational leaflet? Of course not, they call the cops the first time around."
Of course if non-participating ISPs are seeing infringement drop massively while participating ISPs are seeing a slight rise, that would seem to suggest that graduated response programs actually make things worse, which is what data Hollywood ignored said in the first place. The ISTF's solution for the States is to implement an uglier version of Canada's Copyright Modernization Act, which gives ISPs safe harbor only if they agree to pass on all infringement notices. While the Canadian law caps damages, it hasn't done much to thwart copyright trolls, who appear to just be making up for the income reduction by shaking down Canadian users on greater scale.

While these smaller studios are solely focused on greasing the rails for their "settlement-o-matic" shake downs, it's only a matter of time before the MPAA and the larger studios start pushing for "improvements" to six strikes as well, whether that's an organization that tracks offenders between ISPs, or a frontal assault on VPNs and proxy services. And that's just it, these studios consistently whine about the need for aggressive enforcement policies that have been proven not to work, and when they fail the answer isn't adaptation of the business models to the modern age, it's an expansion of already-bad ideas that clearly aren't working. It's a bottomless well of dysfunction. Unfortunately for Hollywood, any expansion of six strikes is going to have a steeper uphill climb in the post SOPA era, which may hinder the program from mutating into something truly monstrous.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2015 @ 12:56pm

    Why don't their heads explode?

    He's "not even wrong." - Wolfgang Pauli

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

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 14 May 2015 @ 1:00pm

    Misleading name

    I also like how they call themselves the Internet Security Task Force (ISTF). This is obviously intended to cause confusion with the legitimate and not-corporate-lobby-group, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). They're probably hoping that they will benefit from the established legitimacy of the IETF.

    Way to not be sleazy, guys!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2015 @ 1:21pm

    the first time they're found to infringe.

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

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 14 May 2015 @ 1:39pm

      Re: the first time they're found to infringe.

      The first time they're ALLEGED to infringe.

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

      • identicon
        Ed Allen, 14 May 2015 @ 2:38pm

        Re: Re: the first time they're found to infringe.

        To them, an allegation is deserving of felony time in prison.

        No need to bother with courts (some pirates might convince a judge that fair use might let them off).

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

        • icon
          MadAsASnake (profile), 15 May 2015 @ 12:58am

          Re: Re: Re: the first time they're found to infringe.

          No need to bother the courts (some pirates might convince a judge they are truly innocent) Do you know how accurate these tracking companies are? If Google used the same standards in their automatic driving cars, there would be a trail of dead people in the wake of each one.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2015 @ 5:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: the first time they're found to infringe.

            Will these self appointed Judge Dredds escort themselves to prison after having infringed upon the copyright of others?

            It's not a matter of if, but when.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2015 @ 1:22pm

    Good tacit admission: "the first time they're found to infringe."

    The minion knows they're guilty as charged.

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

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 14 May 2015 @ 1:40pm

      Re: Good tacit admission: "the first time they're found to infringe."

      Guilty as ACCUSED. No due process needed. Off with their heads.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2015 @ 5:43pm

      Re:

      out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is being enforced.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 12:16am

        Re: Re:

        This truth, according to out_of_the_blue, has been censored:

        "out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is enforced."

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

    • icon
      MadAsASnake (profile), 15 May 2015 @ 12:59am

      Re: Good tacit admission: "the first time they're found to infringe."

      These are shakedowns - they never get round to charging people. That requires annoying things like evidence.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2015 @ 1:43pm

    Hollywood accounting...again!

    "On our film ‘Expendables 3,’ which has been illegally viewed more than 60 million times..."

    How can they know this number? Is that worldwide vs US? Are they assuming that every download = x views, and what is that assumption based upon? If there were 60 million actual downloads, are they assuming that each one of them was watched? How do they know if someone downloaded it and then gave it to 5 friends, or had a family night and showed it to 12 immediate family? Sounds like Hollywood accounting to me.

    BTW, I would not download this movie, or if I still had cable watch it when it appears there.

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 14 May 2015 @ 1:47pm

    If three strikes, six strikes and the Canadian system don't work, have they considered Double Secret Probation?

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

    • identicon
      Ed Allen, 14 May 2015 @ 2:47pm

      Re: six strikes does not work

      They will, of course want to keep people, especially lawmakers from reading...
      "The shutdown of Kino.to resulted in a much more fragmented structure of the market for unlicensed movie streaming. This potentially makes future law enforcement interventions either more costly -- as there would not be a single dominant platform to shutdown anymore -- or less effective if only a single website is targeted by the intervention," the paper said.

      In other words, when one pirate site was shut down, more emerged, turning a single site-blocking effort into a game of Whac-a-Mole.
      http://www.zdnet.com/article/site-blocking-does-not-prevent-piracy-european-commission/
      =====
      As if they weren't warned about them just making finding infringers more difficult.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2015 @ 1:50pm

    The Internet Security Task Force, a coalition of smaller studios, which counts copyright troll Voltage Pictures among its members....

    Didn't you mean:

    "Internet Security" Task Force

    FTFY - you forgot the quotey thingys that are supposed to indicate that they're not even close to what they think they are.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2015 @ 5:07am

      Re:

      Given their attitude and their actions towards alleged pirates, they deserve a name and acronym that accurately defines them.

      How about "Artists and Legislators - Qualified Advocates for the Enforcement of Digital Authority"?

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

  • icon
    Ben (profile), 14 May 2015 @ 1:53pm

    Fantasy time?

    On our film ‘Expendables 3,’ which has been illegally viewed more than 60 million times
    For a movie that had a total domestic gross of $39,322,544 (from BoxofficeMojo; domestic since they can't be complaining about foreign piracy, right?)

    And since a ticket is not $1, 60 million "illegal views" would represent (in their mind, at least) something like $240 million to $600 million in gross receipts. For Expendables 3????

    I'm sorry, but they aren't just living in Fantasy Land, they've settled in so deep they have roots.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2015 @ 2:37pm

      Re: Fantasy time?

      Hollywood types have been living like the Swiss Family Robinson on an island in Fantasy Land for so long that they have multiple generations. The current family members sat around the camp fire in their youth listening to curmudgeonly Grandpa Valenti tell them spooky stories about how the evil VCR maniac stalks single women and strangles them.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2015 @ 3:38pm

    I don't watch television or movies much anymore, but I fire up my torrent software at regular intervals to keep carbon from collecting in the cylinder heads and rust out of the headers. So sorry, Hollywood.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 May 2015 @ 6:37pm

    If "they" would take the security of "their" product more seriously this wouldn't be "their" problem. Our group runs a mesh network. Since presently "they" do not have access to our network "they" will only get it when "they" pry the mouse from my cold dead fingers. Seems everybody wants to rule the world.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2015 @ 5:25am

    1) make shit movie
    2) spend shitloads promoting shit movie
    3) blame piracy when no one wants to watch shit movie
    4) pull bullshit piracy numbers out yer ass
    5) ... (lots of whining)
    6) profit !!!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2015 @ 6:37am

    "as it allows people to steal six movies from us". There using that word again

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2015 @ 7:47am

    Perhaps it's time some educational leaflets were made and sent to the ISTF.... AOL style.

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


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