Filesharers petition Downing Street on 'three strikes'
BPI, government and ISPA should be first to sign
Comment A petition urging the Prime Minister not to introduce "three strikes" legislation against illegal filesharing has made its debut on the 10 Downing Street website.
In their campaign for digital freedoms, peer to peer users are demanding that the government doesn't force the issue. But ironically, they are inadvertently wishing themselves a world where their online activities are governed by an opaque industry settlement, negotiated in secret.
The e-petition asserts: "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to not force internet service providers to act as legal representatives for the RIAA and be treated like a common courier."
Both the BPI and ISPA would likely support the statement. Neither wants legislation - it's clumsy, slow and expensive. As we've reported over recent months, the ISPs are already resigned to implementing disconnection procedures against persistent illegal filesharers, and the remaining battles are over money.
Indeed, since an enforcement system is now inevitable, net users should consider whether it might be better if the government did have to go through with threats to write new laws. It would at least mean the carve-up would take place as part of a more public process, with parliamentary scrutiny of the final procedures.
The e-petition at least gets its facts rights on what role the ISPs are being told they must play. "Under these sanctions, the industry tells your ISP they suspect illegal behaviour. Then your ISP writes to you," the petitioners correctly state in the accompanying details.
Their clarity is admirable in the current environment. Since the plans made a splash in the mainstream two weeks ago, the public debate has been awash with technological tosh. Tinfoil hat fantasies about ISPs being forced to inspect every packet have been bounced around with little regard for the truth. Meanwhile journalists have struggled to get to grips with the issues at play, driving them to the classic cop-out of reporting the controversy, rather than helping the millions of ordinary UK citizens affected to understand the implications of the facts.
So let's all run through the notes together once more, this time with feeling:
- The rights holder body (BPI/MPAA/whoever) will act as the "policeman". Its job is to catch you.
- It will provide your ISP with easily-obtained (see video here) screenshot evidence showing your IP address participating in a copyright infringing BitTorrent swarm.
- The ISP will act as the "magistrate". Its job is to punish you.
- It will issue warnings to you to stop illegally filesharing, effectively putting you on probation.
- After an agreed number of warnings - probably two, maybe more - if the rights holder supplies further evidence you are still involved in infringement, you will be disconnected.
- Consider yourself digitally ASBO'd. We don't know yet whether you'll appear on a shared naughty list.
It's really that simple. For the technically astute, such a system will be easy to circumvent from the get-go. Four out of 21 people accused under the procedure at Tiscali last year ended up booted off the internet, mind you. Joe Bloggs neither knows nor cares what an anonymous proxy is, but he loves his free music.
Next page: Money talks
OK, forget the money aspect
For a minute let us all stop arguing about whether record labels make too much money, or whether artists should be able to afford solid gold toilets or whether CD prices are reasonable and talk about basic right or wrong.
OK, people have always copied music, but was it ever considered right?
OK, you may not have paid for X album anyway, but how does that make downloading it for free right?
OK, Maybe Amy Winehouse (say) already has plenty of money and any more she gets would just be snorted up her nose anyway, but how does that make it right to take something she has created and not pay the expected fee for it?
OK, maybe copying an album doesn't in itself deprive the artists etc. of anything (it doesn't directly cost them anything for you to copy an album) in the way that stealing a CD from a shop deprives them of the CD, but how dos that make taking something that has a value and not paying the value?
Look, everyone who "pirates" music knows that it is wrong to do so. They may convince themselves that they have a "right" to do so, or that they are "sticking it to the man" or saving a drug-addled star from themselves, or just "trying before they buy" or that they are actually only using P2P to download 30GB of linux distros every month, but they know it is wrong.
Also I feel I must address the car analogy here. The anti-copying brigade say copying music is like stealing a car. Which it patently isn't. However the freetards say there is absolutely no comparison because a car physicaly exists but music doesn't. Which is blatantly rubbish.
A better example is that you take the car from the manufacturer but leave enough money to cover only the direct material costs of the car and the labour to build it. Would this be acceptable? The manufacturer doesn't actually lose anything for the physical goods but there would be no profit and no return on non-direct production costs.
Big question to all the freetards:
If there is nothing wrong with copying music then why don't you write to the appropriate RIAA / BPI etc. and tell them exactly what you are doing?
Cost cost cost
>>I wouldn't be so sure of this. Are you really implying most people would be happy to see films go away? I don't think so. And as for recorded music, there seems no real evidence that a majority of the population is keen to go through life with no way to have music playing at home, in the car, or when walking around with an iPod.
As I said they either don't care enough about it to pay the price being asked or they don't think about the consequences of mass-piracy. How does the 3-strikes policy address either of these issues?
>>Instead, each individual filesharer seems to assume that they alone won't make the difference between content going away of not, as long as enough unspecified other people pay. The problem is the denial of the logical conclusion that if *everyone* does this, there will be nobody left to pay. And that removing copyright would make this much more likely.
I agree, how does the 3-strikes policy or any legislation fix this problem? It doesn't; what is needed is a cultural change which is something that neither the government nor the record companies can do.
>>Somebody who didn't value recorded music might, instead, be expected to limit themselves to family members playing a piano at home and/or reading books.
Why would they restrict themselves when both are free (once you buy the equipment)? All I'm suggesting is that many freeloaders do want to listen to recorded music if its free but don't care enough about it to pay for it.
But again I make the point that if too few people care enough about recorded music to pay for it then it is inevitable that the music industry will shrink and may dissappear. It doesn't matter whether you think this is good or bad.
The music indusry seems to be slowly changing, removing drm and lowering prices, but it is so far behind its consumer base that it may be too late. If they had been on top of the internet market from the beginning with good, fairly priced services then they would have been fine. What is happening to the music industry is simply a result of their lack of vision and the monopolistic way in which they operate. No amount of laws is going to change that either.
@Richard Read again
>> clearly a large proportion of society does not value recorded entertainment as much as you or they don't realise what effect their actions will have.
I wouldn't be so sure of this. Are you really implying most people would be happy to see films go away? I don't think so. And as for recorded music, there seems no real evidence that a majority of the population is keen to go through life with no way to have music playing at home, in the car, or when walking around with an iPod.
Quite the reverse in fact, especially for the "freetards", based on the large scale illicit P2P activity. Somebody who didn't value recorded music might, instead, be expected to limit themselves to family members playing a piano at home and/or reading books. If *this* was why recorded music declined then there would be no complaint. But it's not.
Instead, each individual filesharer seems to assume that they alone won't make the difference between content going away of not, as long as enough unspecified other people pay. The problem is the denial of the logical conclusion that if *everyone* does this, there will be nobody left to pay. And that removing copyright would make this much more likely.
As at least one previous poster said, there would be more respect for arguments in favour of any one of:
1. Going through life without recorded entertainment. I.e. no iPod, car CD player, HiFi, etc.
2. Limiting yourself 100% to free content such as YouTube or the radio.
3. The people complaining about high prices or the low fraction of revenue going to musicians are also free, of course, to start your own record company and pay artists more. Of course, you might not succeed. But note that this is how prices have been driven down in other industries such as computers, not by heckling from the sidelines.
Note that none of the above involve copying existing copyrighted material that you don't have permission to copy.