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ISPs and the copyright cops

According to Euro Digital Rights, the MPA and IFPI – the international versions of the RIAA and MPAA – are trying to persuade ISPs to adopt a voluntary code of practice. It asks ISPs to:

* Remove references and links to sites or services that do not respect the copyrights of rights holders

* Write new T&Cs that require customers to consent “in advance to the disclosure of their identity in response to a reasonable complaint of intellectual property infringement”

* Preserve identity/usage data of customers in case the entertainment industry needs to sue ’em

* Block sites that are “substantially dedicated to illegal file sharing or download services”

and:

* “Enforce terms of service that prohibit a subscriber from operating a server, or from consuming excessive amounts of bandwidth where such consumption is a good indicator of infringing activities.”

It is, of course, a spectacularly bad idea. It does three key things: it turns ISPs into censors; it turns ISPs into spies; and it urges ISPs to block technology irrespective of whether that technology has positive uses. So for example, it would wipe out BitTorrent: while BT is indeed often used for copyright infringement, it’s also a phenomenally useful way to get legit content such as Linux distributions, software updates, items that are in the public domain or issued under a Creative Commons licence, and so on.