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Ambiguity will lead to the innocent suffering alongside the guilty, argues report

TIME magazine's Matt Peckham has offered up a compelling argument on why the upcoming "six strikes" plan is fundamentally flawed.  "Six Strikes" is the term bandied about for the voluntary collaboration by internet service providers (ISPs) and big media groups like the Motion Picture Association of America to "educate" users on the "dangers" of piracy.

The proposal -- unlike past efforts like the failed SOPA -- does not involve the government.  And it does not involve internet "capital punishment" -- termination of paying customers.  But if customers are found pirating by MarkMonitor -- the group contracted by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) to filter ISP traffic looking for P2P streams with infringed IP -- ISPs will be liable to either slow users connections or force them to take "classes" to regain access to the connection.

The move is a win for ISPs; they'll likely be able to provide a lesser degree of service to many of their customers while claiming it's in the noble name of "intellectual property protection".  Reduced service means less bandwidth and data consumed, which in turn means cost savings, which in turn means more profit.

And big media is clinging to the notion that if it can just get some habitual pirates to abandon their foul ways, they'll instead turn to legally buying all sorts of content, triggering a golden age of media profits.

Of course there's little signs of that being the case -- pirates actually tend to already be the biggest buyers of legal content, so it seems relatively unlikely they'll buy more if forced to forgo their pirating.

Piracy Warning
Piracy warnings might sound good on paper, but a major issue is how to track the true offenders and who should be forced to pay for that tracking.

What's more, Mr. Peckham poses an intriguing scenario of why the current IPv4 based plan in simply too dumb to work.  He comments:

My condo complex (I'm an owner) has 48 units. It was built in 2003, so it's relatively new. At the time, the builders had the foresight to wire each unit with Ethernet — a drop in each room, everything connected back to aggregate wire closets. Near my front door (and all the front doors of all the units) is a mini-wire closet with a switch/hub that connects my unit to a central switch/hub in a locked room on the property.

That, in turn, plugs into a high-speed cable modem — a cable modem that's shared across all 48 units. We're technically shielded from each other using a special box that "firewalls" each private IP and can control how much bandwidth it's allocated, etc. Whether we elect to use it or pay for our own service instead, all 48 units have access to this shared Internet.

He argues that for business owners or owners of residential units (like himself), the plan will create a nightmarish scenario of new costs and enforcement responsibilities, in which ultimately the innocent may suffer along with the guilty.  He writes:
You can probably see where I'm headed. With "six strikes," any of the residents in the complex who — knowingly or unknowingly — engage in an act of copyright violation, could incur an alert. Who's going to see that alert? Probably me, as the technical contact for the ISP (that or our property management company, at which point it'll route back to me).

At this point I'm not sure what happens. The IP address MarkMonitor's software is going to see, presumably, is our public one, not the private address of the device that's been singled out on our condo complex's network. How do we identify the perpetrator? Should we identify the perpetrator? If our ISP says we're in violation, is it incumbent on us to run our own tracking software, somehow, to identify the person(s) involved? Are we supposed to somehow issue these warnings ourselves, since the ISP won't technically be able to?

See the problem? Who's responsible for each infraction? Who should be punished? The entire complex, by throttling or at some point terminating our Internet service? Each unit in the complex pays for shared Internet equally as part of our monthly association fees. We're not a business — there's no CEO. The few of us who manage the Internet on behalf of the rest can't act unilaterally to preempt potential infractions by blocking aspects of the service by introducing content filters the way a private company might.

He also takes the ISP/media union to task for failing to transparently disclose full details of the plan and how it will work.  He says the collaborators decision to force consumers to "reverse-engineer" their rights is a big "transparency issue".

The plan, as he points out, has been temporarily delayed by the CCI as the power outages from Hurricane Sandy set back the MarkMonitor's testing of the scheme on trial partner networks.

You're out
Hurricane Sandy temporarily delayed the "six-strikes" plan. [Image Source: Ed Zurga/AP]

But as the delayed system moves forward to rolling out in weeks to come, one has to wonder how many scenarios like the one Mr. Peckham laid out might occur.  If they do, the wrath will likely largely be shouldered by the ISP, and they may find themselves losing paying customers.

And when things reach that point one has to wonder whether the fragile union between the content hording big media and the service providers will be capable of surviving the financial friction.

Source: CNN

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Devil's in the details
By ritualm on 12/4/2012 6:05:31 PM , Rating: 2
The copypolice loves big ideas like these. Sounds wonderful in theory. Just wait until they actually put it into practice.

RE: Devil's in the details
By MadMan007 on 12/4/2012 7:35:10 PM , Rating: 2
Hackers who dislike it will just have to figure out a way to make some high profile people, whether public figures or those in either the ISP or content industries, get some warnings. Once a content company exec is singled out or there's a 'Mel Gibson can't pass on his iTunes' moment there will be backlash.

RE: Devil's in the details
By othercents on 12/5/2012 8:20:56 AM , Rating: 3
There are already ways around this monitoring and I suspect many knowledgeable people who care about staying hidden are already using those tools, so the only people who are going to get in trouble are the uninformed occasional downloaders.

It is possible that because the knowledgeable will be able to hide their tracks the bandwidth used across an ISP will still be the same. As occasional downloaders are caught they will move to other means of watching what they want like Hulu or Netflix.

RE: Devil's in the details
By Jeffk464 on 12/4/2012 7:52:33 PM , Rating: 3
It seems to me a lot of people who pirate don't have much money, so how will stopping piracacy trigger a golden age of media profits? Its not like the would be pirates will then spend thousands of dollars building a movie collection.

RE: Devil's in the details
By lagomorpha on 12/4/2012 10:55:54 PM , Rating: 5
It's not piracy itself that media companies fear, that's just the excuse they use to shut down file sharing networks. The real fear is that these networks will eventually grow enough to provide independent artists exposure and a way to distribute their work without the need to sign contracts with media companies. In another generation if left unchecked, this could make record companies obsolete.

By inperfectdarkness on 12/5/2012 3:15:44 AM , Rating: 2
This deserves a 6.

This is the same trend for all companies since the invention of the corporation. Companies would rather fight to remain status-quo, rather than re-invent themselves. Adapt or Die. There's a reason I shop almost exclusively at Amazon or Ebay these days--and it's because these sites are like a digital flea-market. There is much more selection and varity than any "conventional" big-box department store.

Music/movies are no different. "Conventional" outlets (chain cinemas, big-box retailers) provide limited varity. RIAA/MPAA is essentially a "big-box" retailer. They are fighting to remain relevant--even in the face obscurity via unwillingness to change.

I could also make correlaries about fruit computers fighting for relevance via litigation (which isn't far removed from the RIAA/MPAA fighting via legislation).

It should be fairly obvious that capitalism works best by focusing on what is best for the consumer. Legislation which limits selection, stifles innovation, or grants de-facto monopolies (ISPs, RIAA, etc), is bad ju-ju. Only by protecting consumer CHOICE, can the market truly follow consumer trends.

RE: Devil's in the details
By mmarianbv on 12/5/2012 3:45:19 AM , Rating: 3
allow me to fetch a statistic to a succesfull game raising fund.
game which is not even released, and it will take 2 years to make. (rsi space industry on google)

Campaign Tally: $6,238,563
Goal: $2,000,000
Raised: $6,965,339
RSI: $4,830,965 Kickstarter: $2,134,374
Space Sim Fans: 99,935
RSI: 65,538 Kickstarter: 34,397

a lot of those backers are from a forum which support iso demoing games. a lot of them have/play hundreds of pirated games. still, they trowed $ for this man and his dream. he asked for 2 milion, he got 7.

RE: Devil's in the details
By TSS on 12/5/2012 1:03:55 PM , Rating: 2
Last time i checked this has already happened. I've already spent a month watching all the who's line episodes on youtube. The TV hasen't been on since juli other then when my dad comes around, most new content i get is from youtube channels.

I find it sad everytime i watch a TV show on youtube or another website that i'm not watching it on the producer's own website. Apearantly, it's still not profitable enough for them to host the content themselves, put 3 or 4 15 second ads in there, and get the money they aren't getting now. They do realise that everytime i go and watch a episode of the walking dead i'm clicking through 4-5 ad screens before i even get to the damn movie?

Beats having to wait 3 years for a show that might not even be bought by the TV stations in my country, which will only air 1 season per year then repeat it ad nauseam with 3 10 minute commercial blocks in it.

As far as i'm concirned it's a good shift, left them suffer as long as they don't wise up. The new business models that will arise from this will be better for both consumers and for the companies.

Just look at free to play games. Now we have games like league of legends, world of tanks, planetside 2, games that do the free to play model proper. When piracy was still a small issue and games sold traditionally, the only "free to play" games where only based around selling power, and because of it avoided as the plague by any self respecting gamer.

From that culture combined with piracy came the progression based free to play games. Players got games they could play for free and officially, while developers get more money they would otherwise, as it's a continual income system rather then a sell and forget system. A win-win. Because of it it's been a looooong while since i pirated a game, while i used to download atleast 50gb's worth of games a month just a couple of years ago.

Same could happen with TV shows. Put them up on your own website, run 15 second ads per 15 minutes of show MAX, and throw up a pay wall with subscribers getting everything a week (basically a episode ahead) of everybody else, but everybody else does get it for free after a week. No need to go through 3rd parties so all the profits go to the producer, while those who cannot afford to get free content, while those who pay still have exclusivity. A win-win-win situation.

The only reason it hasn't happened yet is because not enough people pirate yet. They can still drain too much money from our pockets in the traditional manners.

RE: Devil's in the details
By semo on 12/6/2012 7:17:35 AM , Rating: 2
Six him!

If these fat cats get their way, we'll soon be demonized for installing adblock and skipping adverts after recording TV shows.

RE: Devil's in the details
By gorehound on 12/5/12, Rating: 0
RE: Devil's in the details
By Gudzenheit on 12/10/2012 1:36:44 PM , Rating: 2
The funny part is, the copypolice won't be able identify the major 'pirates'. Foreign seedboxes, private trackers and encrypted downloads (tools of any decent copyright infringement) make sniffing customer's traffic for P2P activity useless.

We'll see how "voluntary" it is
By superstition on 12/4/2012 8:50:46 PM , Rating: 1
Ask anyone who supports Wikileaks about the "voluntary" nature of Joe Lieberman's campaign to get corporations (PayPal, Amazon, et cetera) to cut of its funding and operating channels.

100% compliance within the US, as far as I know. Now, you may not like Wikileaks for whatever reason, but it was never found guilty of any crime — so be careful about promoting the Lieberman method. Causes you care about in a positive way may be affected.

"Voluntary" regulation, such as pollution controls, rarely accomplishes anything for the public. However, when it comes to "voluntary" compliance with the security state, the results tend to be different:
Whatever one thinks of WikiLeaks, it is an indisputable fact that the group has never been charged by any government with any crime, let alone convicted of one. Despite that crucial fact, WikiLeaks has been crippled by a staggering array of extra-judicial punishment imposed either directly by the US and allied governments or with their clear acquiescence.

In December 2010, after WikiLeaks began publishing US diplomatic cables, it was hit with cyber-attacks so massive that the group was "forced to change its web address after the company providing its domain name cut off service". After public demands and private pressure from US Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman, Amazon then cut off all hosting services to WikiLeaks. Sophisticated cyber-attacks shortly thereafter forced the group entirely off all US website services when its California-based internet hosting provider, Everydns, terminated service, "saying it did so to prevent its other 500,000 customers of being affected by the intense cyber-attacks targeted at WikiLeaks".

Meanwhile, Chairman Lieberman's public pressure, by design, also led to the destruction of WikiLeaks' ability to collect funds from supporters. Master Card and Visa both announced they would refuse to process payments to the group, as did America's largest financial institution, Bank of America. Paypal not only did the same but froze all funds already in WikiLeaks' accounts (almost two years later, a court in Iceland ruled that a Visa payment processor violated contract law by cutting of those services). On several occasions in both 2011 and 2012, WikiLeaks was prevented from remaining online by cyber-attacks.

Over the past two years, then, this group - convicted of no crime but engaged in pathbreaking journalism that produced more scoops than all other media outlets combined and received numerous journalism awards - has been effectively prevented from functioning, receiving funds, or even maintaining a presence on US internet servers.

While it's unproven what direct role the US government played in these actions, it is unquestionably clear that a top US Senator successfully pressured private corporations to cut off its finances, and more important, neither the US nor its allies have taken any steps to discover and apprehend the perpetrators of the cyber-attacks that repeatedly targeted WikiLeaks, nor did it even investigate those attacks.

The ominous implications of all this have never been fully appreciated. Recall that all the way back in 2008, the Pentagon prepared a secret report (ultimately leaked to WikiLeaks) that decreed WikiLeaks to be a "threat to the US Army" and an enemy of the US. That report plotted tactics that "would damage and potentially destroy" its ability to function. That is exactly what came to pass.

So this was a case where the US government - through affirmative steps and/or approving acquiescence to criminal, sophisticated cyber-attacks - all but destroyed the ability of an adversarial group, convicted of no crime, to function on the internet.

RE: We'll see how "voluntary" it is
By OutOfTouch on 12/5/2012 11:54:22 PM , Rating: 3
Wikileaks is useless now. What happened with that hard drive from a Bank of America Exec. that had proof of BOA ripping people off? That information didn't get released because it didn't make the American government look foolish.

I don't agree with a lot of the things our government is doing, ok most of it, but Wikileaks lost all credibility when Assange turned it into an Anti-US Government publishing agency. That's all he wants to publish, forget about any other matters of importance.

By superstition on 12/6/2012 2:28:14 AM , Rating: 2
Wikileaks is useless now.

That was my point. Remember? I wrote about how successful Lieberman was (and the government he represents) in getting 100% compliance with a "voluntary" chilling campaign.
What happened with that hard drive from a Bank of America Exec. that had proof of BOA ripping people off?

That's an interesting question, one that's irrelevant to my point and quite a tangent from this article, but it is still interesting.

My understanding is that a right-winger infiltrated Wikileaks and got access to the BOA file. As far as I know it was in PDF form. He deleted it and then published a book in which he bragged about that.
That information didn't get released because it didn't make the American government look foolish.

That seems like wild ad hominem speculation because it contradicts my understanding of the situation, which I believe is rooted in fact. It also fits with the general ad hominem character of your post.
I don't agree with a lot of the things our government is doing, ok most of it,

And based on this disagreement, you'll take what stance toward whistleblowing and leaking?

Ah... here it comes.
Wikileaks lost all credibility when Assange turned it into an Anti-US Government publishing agency.

That only makes sense for someone who is a blind nationalist.
That's all he wants to publish, forget about any other matters of importance.

That's a pretty silly criticism. It's like saying "That guy has no credibility because he keeps trying to hold my friend accountable for murdering his wife." So, we're supposed to not be bothered by the fact that the guy is a murderer who is free because he's your friend?

That is what we call rote blind nationalism at its worst. Even if it were true, that Wikileaks has a grudge against the US, the US government clearly has a grudge against Wikileaks. Ask yourself who wins when Wikileaks is silenced. Ask yourself who wins when Joe Lieberman establishes such a chilling precedent against an organization and process that is not illegal.

Or, you can resort to ad hominem and similarly ineffectual complaints.

Landlords can just block illegal filesharing
By ethicalfan on 12/5/2012 9:37:44 AM , Rating: 2
"sharing" copyrighted content violated US Federal law 17 USC 106 and more than 200,000 people have been sued for doing that since 2010. If the landlord is providing the internet service used for illegal filesharing, that landlord has clear third-party liability under fonovisa vs. cherry auction and can be sued. All the landlord has to do is have a technician block BitTorrent packets on their router like thousands of other businesses do today and Mr. Peckham's "concerns" evaporate. The landlord is not an ISP. ISPs can't block BitTorrent because they are legally required to facilitate "free speech". The landlord has no such obligation.

By Nutzo on 12/5/2012 11:28:03 AM , Rating: 2
Except it's not that simple.

You can't just block some ports, as it's simple to change the ports on the BitTorrent client. Many routers do not have the ability to inspect each packet to determine the type of traffic.

Also, you would also be blocking peoples legal usage of BitTorrent to download non-copyrighted files.

Finally, what about the other ways of downloading such as news groups, ftp, file hosting sites? Are you going to block all that too?

By westrock2000 on 12/15/2012 10:10:32 AM , Rating: 2
How can an ISP be "legally required" to protect free speech, but not the landlord? They are both private entities providing a service.

There is only government and private when it comes to our protected rights. I would venture to say that no private entity is required to protect our rights. Those rights are there to protect us from the government.

So hopefully the argument should be that the landlord has the right to block certain ports by his own accord, but the government may not force him to do so.

Not completely true
By Xplorer4x4 on 12/4/2012 11:21:55 PM , Rating: 2
The move is a win for ISPs; they'll likely be able to provide a lesser degree of service to many of their customers while claiming it's in the noble name of "intellectual property protection". Reduced service means less bandwidth and data consumed, which in turn means cost savings, which in turn means more profit.

Even if more pirates went legit, this just means more bandwidth to services like Amazon, Hulu, etc. So I don't see this statement being rational, unless cable companies can get a major influx of customers to use there VOD services, if they have one.

RE: Not completely true
By tamalero on 12/5/2012 10:29:19 AM , Rating: 3
let's not forget about other studies.. like the ones that proved how "pirates" buy even more content than normal users.

Pirates usually just test if they like the product.. then buy.
there are so much overhyped junk in the industry that its not even funny.

Also, so many movies bombed on a lot of causes...mostly awful quality; but no sire.. they have to blame the "filthy pirates" for losing money.

McDonalds, Starbucks...
By Performance Fanboi on 12/5/2012 12:51:09 AM , Rating: 4
...and any other public WIFI will be throttled on day 1. This plan is ridiculous but you have to give them credit for finding a way to get the ISPs on board. "So we can provide less service and still charge full price and you guys will take the blame?"

Are pirates media's best customers
By ethicalfan on 12/5/2012 9:49:43 AM , Rating: 1
The "study" cited based on data provided from people who are breaking the law found that people who say they pirate also say they go to a lot of movies in the theater. Piracy is killing the after market, not box office. The after market is where most of the actual profit is made and where a lot of salaries get paid and how most indie films actually break even. If piracy is so great for the creative industry, why is it shrinking across the board after decades of growth prior to p2p.

By BrotherPointy on 12/5/2012 4:57:51 PM , Rating: 3
Shrinking? That's a weird way of spelling "expanding".

The MAFIAA-controlled creative industry may be shrinking although if that I'm not sure, but the independent creative industry is certainly growing and it's fueled by modern technology.

By rudolphna on 12/4/2012 7:31:44 PM , Rating: 3
I am pretty sure that none of the ISPs, TWC, Comcast, Verizon, really want to have anything to do with this. Reason? Because they don't want to piss off customers. They don't want to alienate customers or potential customers. What does that do? Customers don't sign up, or disconnect service, and what does that mean? Less revenue = less profit. It's not really a winning formula. The major telecoms really are going along with this rather reluctantly, as they've seen the backlash that associates with what customers perceive as limiting their service or something similar.

And keep in mind, this would affect me too, as an employee at one of these companies.

By hood6558 on 12/5/2012 2:18:51 AM , Rating: 2
Just as the black market drives the "real" economy, file sharers increasingly drive the entertainment industry. Who else is going to watch the thousands of crappy movies that Hollywood puts out every year? You can't go see a movie for a nickel any more, can you? (more like $15, isn't it now?) Who can afford to pay $29.99 for a movie disc that's going in the $5 bin next week? And you'll probably never watch again. Times are tough, money is tight, and Hollywood makes plenty of money off the few blockbusters they manage to produce each year. So why should they care if a few thousand people download their movies, it creates a lot more "buzz" for that majority of movies that slip through the cracks. You can't stop progress, and computer technology has opened Pandora's Box, for better or worse. They just need a new business model, like maybe taking a cut of the huge profits the ISP's make by hosting all that content.

By p05esto on 12/5/2012 8:46:01 AM , Rating: 2
The real pirates will always have other ways and stay one step ahead. This will catch and help with the everyday downloaders for sure. Probably a good thing if you think about it. Although with 90% of movies being garbage I doubt it will help sales at all. People are not going to take chances buying movies unless they KNOW it's going to be good.

By kingmotley on 12/4/12, Rating: -1
By FaaR on 12/4/2012 10:32:59 PM , Rating: 5
Nonsense! This guy's BUYING internet service, he's not providing it any more than any person who puts a router on their incoming cable or DSL line, and how can he have agreed already to something which hasn't even gone to trial yet?

This stuff is just another example of how corporate fascism is strengthening its grip on the land of the free, happily clapped and cheered on by puppets like you.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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