Daily Archives: February 1, 2009

Query: Status of “Three Strikes” laws or deals?

As pointed out in this article from the London Times, the four major US record companies have struck a deal with Ireland’s largest ISP, Eircom, to report to the record companies when the ISP catches users illegally sharing copyrighted music files, and to disable the users’ accounts after the 3rd warning.

Meanwhile, my inbox has been inundated with articles and blog posts about Section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act in New Zealand, where a similar scheme has been created legislatively.

There have also been a number of  articles about talks among the record companies, Comcast and AT&T to implement a similar “tell on you and terminate your account” structure in the U.S.

Query to those in the blogosphere:  Has anyone done a comprehensive catalog of the implementation of this media owner / ISP cooperation scheme worldwide (i.e. countries where legislation has been proposed or adopted, countries where media owners have attempted to enter contractual agreements with ISPs, countries where agreements are actually in place)?

Query No. 2:  If the ISPs start filtering for copyrighted material, could they lose their “safe harbor” under the DMCA for other copyright material that they choose not to police?

Edit: Another (legitimate) rant here about Comcast policing for infringement, with the following insightful comment:

Given many carriers can’t even get bills and customer support right yet — there’s no reason to think this new system will be any different — particularly without any independent oversight or a publicly reviewable grievance process for false positives.

As someone who was  charged for cable service for over a year after I moved apartments (without the cable company noticing), I understand the blogger’s concern.  Internet acces is so crucial to American society that termination of access, a serious penalty (perhaps even more than a fine from a governmental agency), cannot be permitted  through arbitrary action.

Update No. 2:  Public Knowledge has a great summary of “Three Strikes” stories here.

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DRM commentary from across the pond

This article comes from the Guardian in the UK:

Digital rights management isn’t music to everyone’s ears | Media | The Observer.

It’s essentially a tirade against Digital Rights Management (DRM) from a British perspective, noting that the US’s DMCA has, through WIPO, “infected the legal system of every advanced industrialised country”.  He then lists the parade of horribles caused by DRM, including Kindle owers who can’t share a book with a friend (or transfer it to a newer Kindle) and school librarians who cannot see the blacklist of websites and keywords used by filtering software to block sites, since that’s incrypted and attempting to circumvent the incryption would be a “criminal offence under the DMCA and its foreign counterparts.”

He then concludes with a mini-rant on Apple:

The truth is that DRM was always going to be a dead end for two reasons: it can always be circumvented and it infuriates consumers. As usual, the first company to recognise this was Apple, hitherto a fierce implementer of DRM via its iTunes/iPod technology. Having extracted the maximum commercial advantage out of it, Apple announced on 6 January that it was abandoning DRM. About 80% of iTunes’ 10 million songs went DRM-free on that day, with the rest to follow by March.

This is good news for those starting out on record collecting. But what about the millions of iPod users who have purchased DRM-crippled tracks over the past few years? It turns out that they can “upgrade” (ie uncripple) each track for a fee of 20p. And if you think upgrading track by track is too fiddly, the iTunes store now has a “buy all” button in the upgrade section.

You can see where this is going. Long term, it might be simpler to have your salary paid directly to Apple and get an allowance – including iTunes vouchers and a free iPhone – from Mr Jobs.

This article is nothing new, but it demostrastes that citizens across the world are fed up with DRM.  It also demonstrates that DRM is dying, not because of legislation, or the work of “copyleftists” in courts challenging is efficacy, but because it’s so abhorrent to many consumers that the market is forcing is discontinuance. Good for the market, I suppose, and good for Apple, learning how it can suck out an extra couple of pennies from each user, yet again, that will add up to not an insubstantial amount of money.  (My “upgrade all” cost is over $100, for the few dozen albums I’ve purchased from iTunes.) Plus, I love being able to quote an article  with the words “recognise,” “industrialise,” and “offence.”

Brits are upset with the infection of US DRM law throughout the world; probably not too much of a demand to copy these ladies' music, though.

Brits are upset with the infection of US DRM law throughout the world; probably not too much of a demand to copy these ladies' music, though.

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