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.

7 thoughts on “ISPs and the copyright cops

  1. Squander Two says:

    It astonishes me that these idiots are taken so seriously. It’s a simple question: what’s more important, the Internet or record company profits? You’d think even the thickest of politicians could work that one out.

    Someone should organise an Internet strike. Take down the entire Web for two days, and tell reporters that this is what record companies want. That would settle the debate rather quickly.

  2. Gary says:

    There’s a fascinating list (don’t have URL handy, sorry) of all the legal battles between tech and the entertainment industry. Off the top of my head:

    Sheet music publishers vs player pianos
    Composers vs the phonograph
    Vaudeville performers vs radio
    Broadcasters vs cable TV
    Film studios vs video recorders
    Music studios vs cassettes
    Music studios vs DAT tape
    Music studios vs CD burners
    Music studios vs MP3 players

  3. TonyK says:

    >>what’s more important, the Internet or record company profits? You’d think even the thickest of politicians could work that one out.

    Surely that’s the point of the free market economy?

  4. Gary says:

    Because they’re a dying business? Because the money generated by the tech industry makes entertainment look like very small beer? Protecting the entertainment business, IMO, is akin to the manufacturers of horse carriages being able to ban the Ford Model T.

  5. Gary says:

    Actually, let me rephrase: they’re not a dying business, but they do have an outdated business model. And as the examples of previous battles demonstrates, each and every time the entertainment industry was forced to accept a new technology, it figured out a way to use that technology to make massive amounts of money. So for example when the MPAA went after the video recorder, the cinema industry was in the shit; the home video boom revived interest in movies, led to multiplexes and on to DVD, the most successful home technology ever invented (and if the recent leaked figures from MGM are accurate, a considerably more profitable technology than video was).

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