21.01.07 - IFPI: Get ISPs to block filesharing sites
[The IFPI] Wants to use technology similar to that used to block access to child pornography to get at the "root" of the problem and block access to websites that facilitate infringing file-sharing of copyrighted music.
Tucked into the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's (IFPI) Digital Music Report for the year 2007 is an interesting clue as to what consumers can expect from its relentless pursuit of P2P and file-sharing network users.
The report starts by first noting that the fall in CD sales has not yet been matched by online and mobile sales. Even though their revenues in 2006 doubled to about $2 billion USD, they still accounted for only about 10 per cent of total sales. They hope to increase this percentage to at least 25% by the year 2010.
It then goes on to herald its "great victories" against online piracy, that they "...enforce (their) rights decisively, and this will continue."
Amusingly enough it cites its $115 million USD settlement with KaZaA, yep that heap of malware monstrosity, as its big prize. I still chuckle every time I read how taking down KaZaA 5 years after most sensible left for more secure and properly vetted P2P and file-sharing platforms was somehow a big win for them. Plus, the last time I checked, people are still using KaZaA Lite like its still the year 2001, so where exactly is the victory they claim?
John Kennedy, Chairman and CEO of the IFPI even writes, "We were told we could never track down such offenders on the internet. We were told they would hide in places where we could not find them!"
Oh they found them alright, everyone from disabled old ladies, to deceased fathers, to unwitting teens. Their idea of a successful campaign included in the report is that in Argentina one mother made her son sell off his car to pay her back the settlement fee. I'm sure that went over well in a country that has a 13.6% unemployment rate and a $13.2987 per capita income.
It then notes that "We have taken some 30,000 actions against illegal file-sharers globally and, as the research in this report shows, these actions clearly work. Illegal file-sharing in Europe was contained last year against a 30 per cent increase in broadband household penetration." But, what it doesn't say is that it is file-sharing now accounts for some 70-80% of all internet traffic in Europe. Again, where's the victory in their current strategy?
Well, that brings me to the point of what is most interesting in the report, that it makes a hint of what the IFPI plans to do in the future in terms of a new strategy.
...actions against individual uploaders are onerous and expensive and we shouldn’t have to be taking them. That job should not be ours – it should be done by the gatekeepers of the web, the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), who unquestionably have the technical means to deal with copyright infringement, if only they would take responsibility for doing so.
At one time you were considered a new media philistine if you wanted to regulate the internet. But then Google promised the Chinese government that censorship was possible. Then Google blacklisted BMW in the internet world for anti-social behaviour. It seems policing is acceptable for all sorts of things but not intellectual property!
With cooperation from ISPs, we could make huge strides in tackling content piracy globally. Disconnection of service for serious infringers should become the speeding fine or the parking ticket of ISP networks. We need government help to make it clear that ISPs must face up to their responsibilities and cut off copyright infringing users. To be fair, at the end of 2006 the UK government signalled that it may be prepared to play a facilitating role in this and set a deadline of December 2007 for tangible progress.
Startling isn't it? It cites Google's relationship with China no less as a model for policing the interent. I wonder how they will go about selling that one to the public.
Even further, it wants to invade our privacy as customers of a service by having our own ISPs keep an eye us. A corporate interest wants the privacy protections of individuals undone on a global scale merely because their business model is at stake. Rather than change their own distorted and antiquated method of doing business they'd rather have people give up their personal rights and freedoms. It's no wonder they cite a page from China's playbook to try and justify this action. Is it really incumbent upon the consumer to give up their right to privacy everytime a business cries foul?
The report goes on to continue attacking the so-called "Gatekeeper" ISPs, calling them the best means of tackling piracy.
The recording industry accepts that mass-scale legal action against uploaders is the second best solution for containing internet piracy. The best answer lies in tackling the problem closer to its source.
They have it within their power to limit access to copyright infringing material and therefore hold the key to substantially reducing online piracy.
Surely, this is true but, where does it end? What if governments wanted ISPs to limit access to gambling sites, or sites about communist parties? What if a government wanted ISPs to block access to the sites of vocal critics to a regime or head of state? What if a government wanted an ISP to block access to pornography sites, which is a very real possibility for the ever vigilant anti-porn crusaders here in the US?
In an amazing bit of hubris, the IFPI suggests that perhaps we could treat those who visit file-sharing websites in the same way that we treat those who visit child pornography.
Yes, I said child pornography!
Technology similar to that used to block access to child pornography could be used to block access to websites that facilitate infringing file-sharing of copyrighted music.
This makes me laugh out loud every time I read it.
I guess even this so-called "new" plan of theirs isn't so new after all. It's just as silly and misguided as the previous one.
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