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Firm says its objective is to help its customers "exploit" their "rights globally"

Here in the U.S. the legal campaigns of the RIAA and MPAA are the subject of long standing controversy.  Decisions like the $1.92M USD verdict against mother Jammie-Thomas Rassert for 24 songs (allegedly representative of large infringement), largely divide the public, with some advocating suing infringers out of house and home and others blasting the tactics as thuggish and evidence of a out-of-touch intellectual property system.

The UK appears headed for more of this kind of controversy, as the law firm ACS:Law just secured approval from the Royal Courts of Justice in London to demand the addresses and personal info on 30,000 users from their internet service providers (ISPs).  The customers covered by the so-called Norwich Pharmacal Order are "suspected"  involvement with the illegal file sharing (P2P) of approximately 291 movie titles.  Of the suspected infringers, 25,000 had IP's with the UK service provider BT.

ACS:Law plans to try to shake down those who may have infringed, sending them threats to pay up or face a battle in court.  Judging by past settlements in the U.S., most of these cases will likely be settled for a few thousand dollars.  The letters do give some suspects an out by saying that if they think their connection was illegitimately reportedly used they can seek a solution, such as implicating possible suspects.  IP addresses are easily faked, hijacked, redirected and generally abused in ways that the systems employed by these kinds of trackers cannot detect.

Copyright protection organizations and their legal bulldogs have recently been particularly at odds with BT.  Their fury was particularly provoked when the UK Internet Service Providers Association which represents the ISP and others in June concluded that they were "not confident in [ACS:Law's] ability to identify [ILLEGAL] users."  ACS:Law fired back that BT was "shameful" for not taking greater action to prevent filesharing.  BT said such actions would violate its users' right privacy.

ACS: Law describes its company's objective, writing, "We are a law firm which specialises in assisting intellectual property rights holders exploit and enforce their rights globally. Illegal file sharing costs the creative industries billions of pounds every year. The impact of this is huge, resulting in job losses, declining profit margins and reduced investment in product development. Action needs to be taken and we believe a coordinated effort is needed now, before irreparable damage is done. "

Britain is home to some of the most aggressive copyright enforcement efforts.  Politicians with the majority Labour Party are looking to terminate filesharers who commit three offenses, forcing their ISPs to suspend their accounts.  British copyright organizations also recently threatened to sue a singing store employee, only to eventually back down.

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Value out of nothing?
By TSS on 11/27/2009 8:49:46 PM , Rating: 1
Ok this is getting ridicolous. We need to adress this issue as a race of beeings rather then countries with ideas. Because this is simply stealing from them because they stole from you, anarchy. And now that it's spreading, we'd best take care of it.

Here is the real problem: How can we find value in something that has no value?

Value has always arrived from scarcity. Why was gold used as the material for coins? Because it was scarce. Dirt isn't worth anything because... it's everywhere.

Anything digital isn't scarce. It can be replicated against almost no cost. That we choose to pay millions for dirt doesn't change the fact it's dirt. Can you even imagine getting sued because you stole another guy's dirt?

And it gets worse! We can also replicate money as much as we like. It's just numbers on somebody's computer. Last i heard only like 3% of the money in america is actually printed. So technically where paying for something that does not have value with something that does not have value! But stuff like chairs, or desks, or anything solid that does have value, can be bought with something that does not have value.

Change is needed, we need to redefine value and what it actually is. With it, related terms like profit need to be redefined. Afterall, you cannot have made a profit if you've only collected more stuff without value.

I wish i had the sollution, but alas i'm not nearly smart enough. Maybe collectively, over time, we can come up with something though.

RE: Value out of nothing?
By Jalek on 11/27/2009 9:17:51 PM , Rating: 5
This story's about England though, where the RIAA affiliate wanted to sue a grocery store employee for royalties over singing while working.

It's not just the digital copying, these organizations are just insane.

RE: Value out of nothing?
By TSS on 11/28/2009 5:12:24 AM , Rating: 2
It's not just these organizations. Yes they are insane, totally agree. And if copyright wasn't such an issue in itself they would find something else to leech off. They are like the torrent sites: kill one and more will take it's place. But that doesn't mean copyright isn't still an issue, that will go away if these organizations go away.

I mean i'm still figuring out how to explain that i paid 50 euro's for something i can duplicate by going "ctrl+c, ctrl+v". Does that mean i have 2 items worth 50 euro's? Their both equal in every single way.

Then it blows my mind that, take a movie for instance, some company sunk $120 million dollars into something that i can duplicate by going "ctrl+c, ctrl+v".

Suppose that the instant the master file was created which is then copied, it would be instantly copied to everybody's computer via a giant P2P network. The instant that happens, the file is completly worthless since everybody has it. That's actually technically *possible*.

Try using "ctrl+c, ctrl+v" with a chair. The one your sitting on. Just make sure it isn't connected to the internet and they'll never know.

*falls down*

Ah crap, i'll be back later, My chair's motherboard just fried and it dissapeared under me. Now i gotta go to the store to get a new one then talk an hour with MicroSit support to renew my licence so i can sit down again.

RE: Value out of nothing?
By scrapsma54 on 11/28/09, Rating: 0
RE: Value out of nothing?
By monitorjbl on 11/28/2009 11:23:30 AM , Rating: 2
Why would you buy a movie you don't like?

RE: Value out of nothing?
By scrapsma54 on 11/28/2009 12:02:03 PM , Rating: 2
I don't, but it also means I am willing to give a movie a chance before I clarify it as garbage.

RE: Value out of nothing?
By PrinceGaz on 11/30/2009 4:03:02 AM , Rating: 2
Probably because he hadn't watched it before buying it, I would expect. That is why piracy can be a good thing-- you only end up buying stuff you like (including stuff you like you would not have considered buying had you not been able to view it for free first), whilst the rubbish gets watched once (or possibly not even all the way through if it is that bad) and deleted with whoever published it receiving no money for churning out junk.

RE: Value out of nothing?
By vapore0n on 11/30/2009 9:12:42 AM , Rating: 3
Are you saying movies at the theater should be free, and you just pay at the end of the movie if you liked it?

RE: Value out of nothing?
By Lazarus Dark on 11/30/2009 8:01:56 PM , Rating: 2
Well, that would be nice. This weekend I was dragged by friends to see Ninja Assassin. A terrible movie even by ninja movie standards. I walked out wishing I could get my money back and I immediately watched something at home to try to forget the horrible movie. If I'm alone or with only my wife, we will often walk out of the middle of movies and get our money back, but with freinds, I'm obliged to stay the whole time. Yes, I think they should still give me back the money at the end, especially movies where the end ruins the whole movie. It's like they stole the money from me and didn't deliver what was promised (entertainment).

RE: Value out of nothing?
By Kiffberet on 11/30/2009 7:58:54 AM , Rating: 2
People out there who pay big bucks for mega-fast connections do it so they can download big files at top speed.
I bet most of these 'big files' are either games, movies or music - mostly pirated!
The only reason they pay for the fast connections and not your standard slow connection (which is actuclly no slower for web pages), is because they 'save' money by not buying games/movies/music.

So if the ISP's started handing over user details to lawyers, then people are going to jump ship and head to the next ISP who doesn't do this.
If all the ISPs started giving out user details, then I can guarentee you that sales of the premium/fast connections would plummet.
No one's going to pay a small fortune for a 20mb or 50mb connection for browsing the web...

Broadband providers would lose a fortune, so there's absolutely no way they'd want to work with any lawyers to get their users into trouble.

RE: Value out of nothing?
By messyunkempt on 12/1/2009 9:12:41 AM , Rating: 2
I bet most of these 'big files' are either games, movies or music - mostly pirated! The only reason they pay for the fast connections and not your standard slow connection (which is actuclly no slower for web pages), is because they 'save' money by not buying games/movies/music

So because I pay a bit more to have a 50mbit connection I must therefore pirate games/films etc?

Lets see how well i can view web pages on a 'standard slow connection' while someone is watching sky player over the internet in another room, whilst another of my housemates is streaming a HD film from the xbox live marketplace.

There are plenty of legal bandwidth intensive applications, lots in fact that use up a lot more of your bandwidth than downloading a film or an album.

Maybe your statement would have been valid ten years ago but even then i'd say that you were making a huge assumption..

RE: Value out of nothing?
By jimhsu on 11/29/2009 8:52:50 PM , Rating: 2
In the past, this was handled by patronage. When a king or church wanted a "piece of art", they would actually sponsor artists (with quite substantial amounts) to create the work, after which it can be distributed with any of this "copyright law" nonsense:

"From ancient world onward patronage of the arts was important in art history. It is known in greatest detail in reference to pre-modern medieval and Renaissance Europe, though patronage can also be traced in feudal Japan, the traditional Southeast Asian kingdoms, and elsewhere—art patronage tended to arise wherever a royal or imperial system and an aristocracy dominated a society and controlled a significant share of resources. Samuel Johnson defined a patron as "one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help".[1]"

This causes several things:
1. It encourages distribution of creative works (which directly benefits the artist in reputation), as opposed to "control" by a monolithic organization,
2. It provides at least decent pay for artists,
3. It removes the income equality we have now (95% barely make a living, the other 5% have multi-million dollar mansions,
4. It directly connects pay with merit, as opposed to the incentive of profit.

Maybe we need to revisit the assumptions of "copyright law".

RE: Value out of nothing?
By jimhsu on 11/29/2009 8:55:14 PM , Rating: 2
Correction: *without

RE: Value out of nothing?
By jimhsu on 11/29/2009 9:01:32 PM , Rating: 1
The real problem is though not copyright itself, but rather who controls it. Copyright was intended as a way for authors to protect their OWN work and ideas from being stolen. Gradually, this became not the case as organization that supposedly help artists enforce their own copyrights (e.g. RIAA) now in effect own them - the artist becomes an asset, and the record company for all financial purposes "produced" the work. Royalties are simply an admission of this; if an artist truly owned his/her copyrights, we wouldn't need royalties as they would sell their work in free markets.

RE: Value out of nothing?
By PhatoseAlpha on 11/29/2009 11:07:29 PM , Rating: 2
We've already dealt quite nicely with the question of value, something like 500 years ago with the concept of copyright and patent laws.

Faced with the reality that an unprotected idea is easily copied, society realized that protections on the use of an idea were necessary to ensure people would devote time and resources to creating new ideas - methods, technologies, as well as entertainment. Without some protection, it would always be cheaper to wait for someone else to create a new idea, then copy it. Thus, no one would spend the resources to create, and society stagnates.

So we created a system where the rights of usage of an idea were limited to it's creator, and usage by other required permission and licensing. That way, there was a good financial motivation to innovate.

The system has worked absolutely marvelously, as a quick look around the wide array of technology available to us in our everyday lives will attest.

The digital age hasn't changed the validity of the underlying concepts one bit. Allowing people to control access to their ideas lets the machinery of capitalism work on the level of ideas, and letting it do that was provided huge benefits for our civilization. Discarding that out of fear of corporate profiteering is a fool's bargain, as it's that machinery of profiteering that has gotten us this far to begin with.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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