Monday, 9 November 2009

3 Strike Madness

I'm sure if you keep up with the news in any way you're heard of the new three strikes copyright law. This is where if you are caught filesharing (or rather if an IP address linked to you is accused of filesharing) you are given three two chances, then your bandwidth is capped, essentially cutting you off from any bandwidth intensive activities.
The first thing that springs to mind from that, assuming that it is in any way possible, is that this will not stop people file-sharing, as it will just take longer to download stuff. What it will hurt is streaming, video and audio on demand. That is the stuff that is generally legal, it's going to mean that if you get caught downloading music or TV, you then can't move to a legal alternative such as Spotify or SkyPlayer. This isn't just a problem for the ex-filesharers, its a problem for the companies trying to forge new business models, and as an extension, its bad for you, the people who want to use these new legal alternatives.
I shan't talk too much about how impossible it is to track down and prove that you have accurately tracked down someone who is in breach of copyright, because there are a million and one people better mentally equipped to talk about that, but I will talk about what really makes me angry which is a sentence completely ridiculous compared to the crime being committed.
Cutting off someone's internet because they download content illegally over the internet is like cutting off someone's electricity for the same reason. This becomes even more relevant when you consider that the Constitutional Council of France has recently referred to the internet as a fundamental human right.
To remove someone from the rest of the world for committing a crime is a bizarre punishment, The reason I suspect France considers the internet such an important utility in the modern world, is that it is difficult to do business without it these days. And is alienating people from the job market a good way to ensure that they pay for media?
Never mind all the evidence which shows that file-sharers are the entertainment industry's best customers. Or the fact that that the film industry had a record breaking year last year. Or the fact that an awful lot of filesharing happens because things are not available, not because the filesharers refuse to pay for them. Lets just scare everyone into behaving. They'll like that. That'll make them want to fork over your ridiculous prices. Fuck you Peter Mandelson. If there's a party with the balls to oppose this, I'll vote for them at the next election. Yes even if that party is the Conservatives.


  1. The point about the film industry is a good one. I mean I download a hell of a lot of stuff but that doesn't mean that I didn't go and see the Dark Knight at the cinema, it doesn't mean I wont buy an album that I really like and I'll always buy a game I really like.

    Thing is though, is that ultimately by downloading you are committing a crime, I respect musicians, film makers and game designers because what they can create deserves to be bought, and by downloading illegally you are stealing somebody's intellectual product, something they have worked on for a great amount of time and cared about, so at least on a human level I care about downloading some things illegally. Illegal downloads do deserve a punishment, as hypocritical as that sounds from a guy that last night downloaded the first episode of the new series of V. But, and I hate to sound like one of those horrible piracy ads, think of the alternatives. If you steal a car you'd get put in prison, if I download thousands of pounds worth of movies, games and music illegally then what's the difference? It'll take time to see how much of an effect file sharing has on legal alternatives, and how much effect this policy, if it happens and is workable, has on file sharing.

    It's a tough one, by devising this kind of punishment they are removing internet crime from other crimes. If we divide the world up into "internet" and "reality" spheres then cutting off someone from the internet for stealing is the same as putting somebody in prison for it. But it hardly matters, by putting a time scale on when this will come into place (I think it was 2010 or 11?) it just gives programmers a time scale to design things to block/change/hide your IP while file sharing.

    I'm not entirely sure what my point was. But yeah. There's my input...

  2. I never really thought of it like prison. The problem with that argument is that all report that I've read don't mention any time limit for how long you'll be capped, if it's indefinate then to carry that analagy on, it would be like being jailed for life for stealing.
    The problem I hae with the theft argument is that you're not taking anything away from anyone. If you steal a car, someone is missing a car. If you download an identical copy of a film that you probably wouldn't have watched if you had to pay for it, and that you might still pay for potentially, who's worse off there?

  3. But the percentage of people who download something then pay for it afterwards can't be that high. It's something that somebody has created; if their earnings are linked to the amount of products sold or box office figures then you are affecting the livelihood of somebody which ultimately does deserve some kind of punishment. If all systems for downloading did provide say a 48 hour free license on music, or a single play for movies that then forced people to purchase then people would use the service because they could buy what they knew they liked. Digital distribution like this could ultimately take over from illegal downloads, but it's going to need something to slow down file sharing, whether this is legislation or just a new fantastic service that renders illegal downloads more useless I don't know.

    They haven't been very clear on the punishment at all, I think the statement was to scare casual downloaders in to thinking that they would be punished, whereas anybody who downloads a lot or knows anything about the process probably isn't too worried about it. It's another one of these things that the government picks up on, goes "oh, that's a hot topic, we should think of something to make it look like we know what we're doing," without taking enough time to analyse, get advice and then devise something. Ultimately it will be a failure, but it depends on your perspective; if the legislation or something like it fails then it is a blow to the entertainment industry.