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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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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.


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