from the good-for-them dept
Of course, all the public shaming in the world isn't going to matter much if ISPs are free to clog up interconnection points and you have no real competition to go to.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 7th 2014 3:30pm
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Jun 20th 2014 8:57am
For many years, Techdirt has been covering the dogged efforts of the Australian ISP iiNet to stand up for its users against bullying by the copyright industries. After Hollywood lost its big lawsuit against iiNet back in 2012, things went quiet until recently, when the installation of a new government in Australia has led to years of careful research in the field of copyright being thrown out, and a return to dogma-based policy-making that has no time for the facts.
An interview by Luke Hopewell in Gizmodo Australia with Graham Burke, co-CEO of the Village Roadshow Australia media company, provides further evidence of how Australia is stuck in the past when it comes to copyright. It's striking how it trots out just about every tired and discredited argument in favor of harsher punishment for those allegedly sharing unauthorized files, along with the repeated claim that iiNet is lying:
"What iiNet are saying to govt is 'oh, let's just have everything available at the same time, cinema and everything and the [piracy] problem will go away. They know that's a lie because of the music industry. In June alone there was 1.2 million illegal downloads of music, and that's released at exactly the same time everywhere," Burke said.
Nobody claims that making everything available at the same time will make piracy go away completely. That's partly because the "piracy problem" in Australia as elsewhere is often more a problem of poor service, as this story from TorrentFreak last year makes clear:
News Corp owns 50% of pay television company Foxtel, the outfit with the rights to show Game of Thrones in Australia. At last count during August the company had around 2.5 million subscribers, but despite the show being legally available to them, the News Corp CEO said that 20% of Foxtel customers still chose to watch the show illegally.
This shows that even when they have access to the legal services, a significant number of people turn to illegal downloads, presumably because they are more convenient -- a pretty damning verdict on the state of the commercial offerings. Making everything available immediately won't solve that problem -- only offering well-designed legal services will -- but research shows that easy availability through legal services does cut down the level of illegal filesharing, which is presumably what iiNet is trying to get the Australian government to understand.
Next, Burke comes out with a favorite trope of the copyright maximalists:
Piracy produces less of a financial burden for the music industry, according to Burke. Producing an album only costs around $300,000 at the top end, whereas the cost of making a film in the studio model starts at $5 million, and ranges right up to $200 million for epics like Skyfall, Man of Steel and Avatar to name a few.
Of course, that makes the huge and unjustified assumption that such $200 million "epics" are an indispensable part of cinema. In fact, one of the exciting developments in recent years has been the democratization of film-making through high-quality, low-cost video technology that lets people make films for thousands, not millions, of dollars. As Burke himself points out, piracy isn't really a problem for such productions -- another argument in their favor.
He then moves on to another discredited idea -- three-strike schemes -- plus some more name-calling:
"It's sad that to forward their case, [iiNet] use what they must know is a fabric of lies. They're saying that there's no proof that graduated response works. They're instancing a number of countries where graduated response was frustrated by lobbying and the power of Google, which pays little to no tax in Australia and creates nothing," he said.
Graduated response was not "frustrated by lobbying", it failed because it is an inherently flawed idea, based on fear, not fairness. And it's telling that Burke tries to distract attention from this by introducing Google and its irrelevant tax affairs here, even going so far as to say that Google "creates nothing". Since people use its free services, and in vast numbers, they presumably see value in them, which means that it most certainly does contribute to Australia, just not in the form of making films or music, say. Bizarrely, Burke then goes to accuse iiNet of the same sin:
They [iiNet] are also demonstrating the fact that their business model is predicated on selling time, and of course they want the present regime to continue. [Pirates] have a smorgasbord of content online that they are accessing, and paying iiNet for the systems to do so. This is a company that has produced nothing in Australia."
But iiNet is not a production company, it's an ISP. It provides access to the extraordinary, multi-faceted riches of the online world, of which unauthorized content forms a very small and unimportant part, despite the copyright industries' obsession with this particular component. The amazing possibilities that access opens up to its customers is what iiNet "produces", and it arguably provides rather better value than money spent buying -- sorry, licensing -- a film or two.
Burke saves the best for last:
"If people are given elegant explanations of why [downloading content] is theft, the bulk of people will be reasonable."
Yes, it's the old favorite "filesharing is theft" argument, which is not just wrong, but so widely known to be wrong, that not even "elegant explanations" could ever make it right. Indeed, it's partly because people like Burke continue to make this ridiculous assertion -- as well as casting slurs on anyone that dares to challenge their purely self-interested view of the Internet -- that the general public holds the content industries in such low esteem.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jun 19th 2014 10:03am
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 23rd 2014 1:58pm
The meeting with internet service providers (ISPs) is likely to discuss the directives given to Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) yesterday, when the country was under martial law but before a bloodless coup was declared. Those directives instruct ISPs to block sites containing content related to the coup that is deemed inappropriate – though it’s unclear what that means or how it will be carried out in practice. Yesterday, six sites were blocked, and the NBTC made it clear that social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Line will be monitored closely.But the really ridiculous and amusing part is where the NBTC insists that its censorship directives are not, in fact, censorship directives, even though that's the only legitimate way to describe them:
An NBTC representative said yesterday that this does not constitute censorship of the web.As if to hammer home the point that this "non-censorship" absolutely is censorship in every possible way, the Thai military forcibly shut down a web livestream of ThaiPBS reporters covering the news (though, as you can see from the video, everyone seems fairly laid back about it).
Shortly after the forced broadcast TV shutdown last night, ThaiPBS continued with a live YouTube stream of their TV news. But as seen in this video (hat-tip to Coconuts Bangkok for spotting it), a pair of soldiers went into the ThaiPBS newsroom to get the livestream taken offline.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 9th 2014 3:02pm
The deal has been struck with the BPI, which represents the British music industry, and the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which covers film.Of course, as the BBC article notes, the MPAA/BPI and others wanted much stricter measures, but were unable to get them. And that means this is nothing more than a foot in the door plan. It's easy to make a prediction: when copyright infringement doesn't magically stop, these groups will go running back to the ISPs (and to the UK government) whining about how more "needs to be done."
The bodies had originally suggested the letters should tell repeat infringers about possible punitive measures.
They also wanted access to a database of known illegal downloaders, opening the possibility of further legal action against individuals. Continue reading the main story
However, following almost four years of debate between the two sides, the final draft of the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (Vcap) contains neither of those key measures.
Within the leaked agreement, one important point: if this system does not have a big effect on piracy, then rights holders will call for the "rapid implementation" of the Digital Economy Act, and all the strict measures that come with it.I would question the "seriously credible set of data." Showing that asking nicely doesn't stop infringement doesn't mean that suddenly pulling out the big ban hammer will actually stop infringement. At this point there's plenty of "seriously credible data" that tougher laws don't stop infringement (or, at least, if they do short term, it doesn't last very long). But, you know, to the big copyright lobbyists, greater enforcement is the only hammer they know. Actually providing consumers with what they want is a concept that they don't spend any time exploring.
Steve Kuncewicz, an expert in online and internet law, agreed. He speculated that the deal "may be a Trojan horse exercise in gathering intelligence about how seriously downloaders take threats".
In other words, if it can be shown that asking nicely does not have a significant effect on curbing piracy, rights holders will for the first time have a seriously credible set of data with which to apply pressure for harder enforcement on those who simply do not want to pay for entertainment.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, May 6th 2014 3:36am
by Tim Cushing
Mon, May 5th 2014 8:32pm
Canada's image as the The Most Polite Nation In The World would seem to be a front that masks a malignant nastiness under the surface. If these numbers are to be believed, Canada is little more than a criminal organization masquerading as a constitutional monarchy.
Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month. Canadian telecommunications providers, who collect massive amounts of data about their subscribers, are asked to disclose basic subscriber information to Canadian law enforcement agencies every 27 seconds. In 2011, that added up to 1,193,630 requests. Given the volume, most likely do not involve a warrant or court oversight (2010 RCMP data showed 94% of requests involving customer name and address information was provided voluntarily without a warrant)...Every 27 seconds. And that number is two years out of date. If Canada is anything like the USA, these requests have increased at a pace far exceeding the birth rate. And much like the US, most of the information is gathered without a warrant or government oversight.
According to newly released information, three telecom providers alone disclosed information from 785,000 customer accounts in 2011, suggesting that the actual totals were much higher.
The correspondence also confirms that the telecom providers were concerned about how the government and law enforcement would react to public disclosures. In one email, Bell says that "we are walking a delicate line between supporting privacy and not antagonizing Public Safety/LEAs [law enforcement agencies], so the materials will be pretty factual, not much commentary."Plus, the ISPs charge a fee to retrieve subscriber information, which probably doesn't generate a ton of income, but doesn't hurt the bottom line either.
About routing, the report states: “Fewer than half (8/20) of the ISP privacy policies refer to the location and jurisdiction for the information they store. Only one (Hurricane) gives an indication of where it routes customer data and none make explicit that they may route data via the US where it is subject to NSA surveillance”.Just as disappointing, not a single one of Canada's ISPs scored a passing grade on transparency. The highest score belonged to Teksavvy, which scored 3.5… out of 10. Unsurprisingly, smaller, newer ISPs scored higher than the incumbents, but when the high score doesn't even hit the 50% mark, it's not much of a victory. The authors found that not a single Canadian ISP fully complied with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). In fact, only slightly more than half had even made a "commitment" to following the act's stipulations.
“Boomerang” routing – where data leaves Canada, traverses US networks (who might choose to ignore PIPEDA) and returns to Canada – accounts for as much as 25 per cent of traffic, the report states. The report claims that traffic traversing the US is “almost certainly subject to NSA surveillance”.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 28th 2014 3:17am
The fundamental rights recognised by EU law must be interpreted as not precluding a court injunction prohibiting an internet service provider from allowing its customers access to a website placing protected subject-matter online without the agreement of the rightholders when that injunction does not specify the measures which that access provider must take and when that access provider can avoid incurring coercive penalties for breach of that injunction by showing that it has taken all reasonable measures, provided that (i) the measures taken do not unnecessarily deprive internet users of the possibility of lawfully accessing the information available and (ii) that those measures have the effect of preventing unauthorised access to the protected subject-matter or, at least, of making it difficult to achieve and of seriously discouraging internet users who are using the services of the addressee of that injunction from accessing the subject-matter that has been made available to them in breach of the intellectual property right, that being a matter for the national authorities and courts to establish.In other words, it appears that broader injunctions, which do not specify exactly what an ISP must do to block access, are allowed. However, ISPs themselves will then be responsible for "taking all reasonable measures" to block access, as long as those measures don't block lawful content. That seems like kind of a huge mess for ISPs who will now have to deal with injunctions asking them to block stuff, where they'll be required to show "reasonable measures" but will also need to balance that against blocking access to legitimate content. This decision seems to try to thread a needle, where the result is likely to be many new lawsuits as censorship injunctions are issued, and ISPs have to figure out how to balance the order without blocking access to legitimate content. It seems likely that many ISPs will opt for limiting their own liability by defaulting towards overblocking to avoid having to face challenges suggesting they didn't take enough "reasonable measures."
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Nov 15th 2013 12:10am
Back in May, we wrote about how the Belgian music royalty collection agency SABAM was taking ISPs there to court over its demand for 3.4% of Internet subscriber fees as "compensation" for online piracy in Belgium. In yet another slapdown for SABAM -- it had previously failed in its attempt to turn ISPs into copyright cops -- the Belgian regulator says SABAM's plan falls foul of the EU's e-commerce directive, as IT World reports:
the Belgian government's FPS Economy (Federal Public Service Economy) agency, which has regulatory power, believes that Sabam is wrongly asking providers for compensation, said Chantal De Pauw, an agency spokeswoman.
Even more dramatically, FPS is taking legal action against SABAM to stop it proceeding with its own lawsuit:
While the FPS opposes any kind of illegal downloading, Sabam's solution penalizes Internet users and this is against the E.U.'s e-commerce directive, according to the authority. Providing Internet access is not the same as publishing protected works, the FPS said in a news release, adding that there are other ways to fight illegal downloads than posing levies on ISPs.
The FPS has ordered Sabam to stop its lawsuit, but the association has argued that they are operating within the bounds of the law, said De Pauw. FPS has therefore decided to sue Sabam in October to force it to stop its legal procedures against the ISPs, De Pauw said. If FPS wins the suit, Sabam faces penalties of up to €100,000 (US$137,600) per day if it continues its quest, she added.
SABAM has always been frustratingly out-of-touch with reality in its demands, but now that it is being sued by its own government, perhaps it will finally take the hint and drop its ridiculous and unjustified scheme.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Sep 9th 2013 3:56pm
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