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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 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.


"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer














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