[pp.int.general] the copyright empire strikes back (2 articles from FT.com)

Alex Foti alex.foti at gmail.com
Mon Aug 31 16:27:39 CEST 2009

says in the subject. they come from the online version of the
financial times. pirate ciaos, lx

On Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 3:25 PM, Erika Nilsson<narnigrin at gmail.com> wrote:
> Er. Not only does the second article equal digital pirates with 18th century
> pirates, it seems to have got half of its facts wrong (eg. after the Ipred
> law was introduced in Sweden, nobody said that illegal downloading decreased
> by 40% - how would they have measured that, anyway? - but a lot of sources
> mentioned the *total internet traffic* going down by 40-70%. And as we all
> know, Piratpartiet did not win a seat in the national parliament) ...
> Where did you find these articles?
> 2009/8/31 Alex Foti <alex.foti at gmail.com>
>> Lobbying leads to harder stance on net piracy
>> By Tim Bradshaw and Salamander Davoudi
>> Published: August 26 2009 03:00 | Last updated: August 26 2009 03:00
>> Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, yesterday hardened the
>> government's attack on online piracy . The move came after lobbying by
>> the film and music industry over concerns that the digital economy
>> bill provides an in-suf-ficient deterrent.
>> The government took the unusual step of adding to an ongoing
>> consultation a proposal to suspend the broadband accounts of repeat
>> offenders.
>> The Digital Britain report , published in June when Lord Carter was
>> communications minister, had proposed that internet service providers
>> write letters to those accused of infringing copyright. Repeat
>> offenders could be taken to court.
>> If this had not reduced file-sharing by 70 per cent after a year, the
>> report proposed, Ofcom would be given "backstop" powers to compel ISPs
>> to block sites or slow down offenders' broadband connections.
>> Rights holders, who lose millions of pounds in revenues to piracy
>> every year, feared it could take at least two years before tougher
>> measures were introduced.
>> "Since the issue of the consultation, some stakeholders have argued
>> strongly that none of those technical measures is powerful enough to
>> have a significant deterrent effect on infringing behaviour," said the
>> government.
>> Under the new proposals , Ofcom could be given ex-panded powers
>> immediately. Suspension would be a "very serious sanction" that
>> "should be regarded as very much a last resort", the government said.
>> Access to online public services and other essential sites could still
>> be allowed.
>> The final decision on these "technical measures" will now rest with
>> Lord Mandelson rather than with Ofcom. Although Ofcom will advise the
>> business secretary, he would be free to "take into account other,
>> wider factors and other sources of information" before taking a
>> decision, the government said, allowing the authorities to move "much
>> quicker" than the regulator acting alone.
>> Senior film and music executives including Lucian Grainge, head of
>> Universal Music International, have met Lord Mandelson to discuss the
>> proposed filesharing legislation.
>> Tom Watson, the Labour MP who resigned in June as minister for digital
>> engagement, said the proposals were "silly". He wrote on his blog that
>> he was "disappointed" by the new plans "as it would lead to
>> accusations that the government had been captured by the big lobby
>> operations of powerful rights holders".
>> Rights holders welcomed the news. "The solution to the piracy problem
>> must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive," said the BPI, which
>> represents the music industry. But ISPs and consumer groups said
>> suspending internet accounts was "disproportionate".
>> Charles Dunstone, chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, an ISP, said:
>> "I don't think you should remove the right of people to the supply of
>> a service on the say-so of a third party."
>> Claws and effect
>> By Maija Palmer, Salamander Davoudi, Tim Bradshaw and Jim,Pickard in
>> London and Joseph Menn in San Francisco
>> Published: August 29 2009 03:00 | Last updated: August 29 2009 03:00
>> Convicted pirates in 18thcentury Britain were hanged at the edge of
>> the sea at low tide and left until three tides had washed over their
>> corpses.
>> Today's digital pirates face somewhat less draconian measures, but
>> proposals this week by the UK government to cut off internet access
>> from those suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted material
>> have created a stir. The move represents a big shift in stance,
>> sending a message that a much more punitive line is in prospect.
>> Back in June the government had outlined a more gradual plan, under
>> which internet service providers would write to those accused of
>> infringing copyright. If these measures did not work within a year,
>> Ofcom, the communications regulator, would be given powers to cut off
>> internet access. Now it appears the government is unwilling to wait to
>> see if the "softly-softly" approach works, and wants the power to
>> disconnect brought in immediately.
>> The shifting of policy is relevant to the more than 1.5bn internet
>> users worldwide, who increasingly access music and films online. The
>> legality of sharing music or video files over the internet remains a
>> grey area, where many people are deliberately, and manyothers
>> unwittingly, falling foul of the law. More than 7m people in the UK
>> alone are estimated to be using illegal filesharing sites.
>> But after 10 years of persistent lobbying, the music and film
>> industries finally appear to have won a powerful ally in government.
>> Lord Mandelson, the UK business secretary, is leading the push on
>> filesharing regulation. Senior music industry figures, such as Lucian
>> Grainge, head of Universal Music International, have been influential
>> in mobilising Westminster to act. He is one of the government's
>> creative ambassadors. He is also on the creative industries group of
>> the opposition Conservative party, which opinion polls suggest will
>> win the next general election.
>> There is a growing sense that music and film industry executives are
>> starting to attract the attention of policymakers around the world - a
>> sense reflected in the speculation over the meeting between Lord
>> Mandelson and David Geffen, the Hollywood media mogul and outspoken
>> critic of online file sharing, on holiday in Corfu this month. Lord
>> Mandelson's office says they did not discuss the subject.
>> President Nicolas Sarkozy - married to Carla Bruni, a singer - gave
>> strong personal backing to a proposed French internet copyright law
>> that would have included a "three strikes and you are out" provision
>> to cut off internet access for suspected pirates.
>> A similar law is under discussion in New Zealand. Taiwan, South Korea
>> and Italy have already brought in tough penalties for file sharing.
>> Sweden brought in a law this year allowing the disconnection of
>> persistent illegal downloaders. Early studiesindicate that the
>> practice dropped 40 per cent in the first month after the law came in.
>> The fact that the film, as well as the music industry, is losing out
>> to pirates may also be influencing government policy. The threat was
>> made clear this year, when the launch of 20th Century Fox's Wolverine
>> was sabotaged by the circulation of an illegal copy on the internet a
>> month before the film reached cinemas.
>> "The film industry has been lobbying very hard. They are much bigger
>> than the music industry and they have more to lose. It is far cheaper
>> to produce an album than to produce a film," says Gregor Pryor,
>> partner at Reed Smith, the law firm.
>> It could, however, be economic realism, as much as the charm of music
>> moguls, that has spurred politicians into action. "It may be a
>> realisation that in the UK we are a postindustrial nation and the only
>> competitive edge we have is our intellectual property," says Iain
>> Connor, partner at law firm Pinsent Masons. "UK plc is having its
>> resources drained."
>> "The UK manufacturing base is gone," agrees Cliff Fluet, partner at
>> Lewis Silkin. "Look where we make all our money. Formats are big
>> business. Look at [talent entrepreneur] Simon Cowell. If we don't have
>> protection then we have nothing left."
>> The creative industries contribute £112.5bn ($183.2bn, €127.5bn) in
>> revenue to the UK economy, equivalent to 8 per cent of gross domestic
>> product, and employ 1.9m people. Piracy costs the film industry £268m
>> a year, according to Respect for Film. It cost the music industry
>> £180m in 2008, according to the British Phonographic Industry.
>> Worldwide, the number of files downloaded illegally last year has been
>> estimated at 40bn. For every track bought online, 20 were downloaded
>> illegally last year, according to IFPI, the international music
>> industry lobby group.
>> It is unclear whether new political will can translate into effective
>> law, however. Pressure groups are already looking at how to challenge
>> the proposed UK measures. The Pirate party, which defends file sharing
>> and lobbies for less restrictive copyright law, is now established in
>> nine countries - including Sweden, where it has won a seat in
>> parliament.
>> The proposed French "three-strikes" law was thrown out by the
>> constitutional council in June, on grounds of freedom of expression
>> and the presumption of innocence.
>> Proposals to cut broadband connection may also be deemed illegal under
>> European Union law. Proposed EU telecommunications legislation
>> includes a clause stating that internet access is a fundamental human
>> right. The decision to cut off access, therefore, may not be one that
>> an ISP can take.
>> There is confusion over how much the law can require of ISPs, says
>> Innocenzo Genna, a board member of EuroIspa, the trade grouping for
>> European internet service providers. Under European law, internet
>> companies are liable only for hosting illegal content, not for
>> allowing their customers to view it. "The rights holders are confused
>> over the two liabilities, and are trying to get something more from
>> ISPs than European directives allow," Mr Genna says.
>> Charles Dunstone, chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, one of the
>> UK's biggest providers, says: "We are going to fight [being forced to
>> disconnect customers] as hard as we can. Our fundamental duty is to
>> protect the rights of our subscribers."
>> The music industry sees such arguments as shirking responsibility.
>> John Kennedy, chief executive of IFPI, the organisation representing
>> the recording industry worldwide, says: "It is not enshrined in any
>> law anywhere that one has the right to steal music, films and books.
>> There is a crisis in the economy, and as well as respecting rights we
>> have to think about the economy and jobs."
>> In fact, the Brussels telecoms proposals have yet to be adopted and
>> could still be subject to change. "We are in a state of flux over
>> where national regimes will come down and how they will chime with
>> Brussels. September and October [when MEPs return to work] will be an
>> interesting time to see how this shakes out," Mr Young says.
>> In the US the issue has a lower political profile, as the record
>> industry is focused on winning voluntary co-operation from internet
>> service providers. It stopped suing individual file-sharers in August
>> 2008 in what it said was an "act of good faith" aimed at furthering
>> talks with the ISPs.
>> The major labels have asked the big connectivity companies to impose a
>> mandatory monthly surcharge on customers for access to approved music
>> libraries and to pass along warnings to pirates before cutting off
>> repeat offenders. Neither plan has been finalised, leading some in the
>> industry to conclude they will never be put into practice. A handful
>> of ISPs, however, such as AT&T and Verizon have agreed to pass on
>> warnings.
>> But no ISP is cutting the cord. "This is not something where we're
>> turning off customers," says AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook.
>> Anumber of court cases in the pipeline may help to bring some clarity
>> to the legal posi tion on piracy in Europe. In Ireland, internet
>> companies UPC and BT Ireland have refused to comply with music
>> companies' requests to cut off suspected pirates. They maintain that
>> Irish law does not require them to do so, and it is now up to the
>> judges to decide.
>> L'Oréal's lawsuit against Ebay for not doing enough to stop
>> counterfeit beauty products being listed has been referred to the
>> European Court of Justice. Defining how much the online auction site
>> must do to fight illegal listings would have implications for
>> filesharing sites and ISPs.
>> Advances in technology mean determined pirates will always find a way
>> to avoid detection. Virtual private networks, for example, allow
>> people to mask their identity, and subscribing to these sites can
>> costs as little as €4 a month. There is also a new generation of "dark
>> nets" - private networks of computers used for file sharing.
>> Some argue that the arrival of more legal movie and music downloading
>> sites will in the long term wean people off piracy more effectively
>> than draconian laws. "Piracy is the sign of a market that isn't being
>> met but now you have plenty of legal sites to choose from, which
>> rather removes the pirates' moral argument from under their feet,"
>> says Mr Fluet.
>> The high political profile of the issue may also help. Industry
>> executives say it is becoming clear to the general public that these
>> practices are illegal. However changing behaviour may take time.
>> The golden age of maritime piracy came to an end in the early 18th
>> century after the Royal Navy strengthened its powers - but the battle
>> took several decades. Despite its powerful political allies, the media
>> industry may be in for a similarly long haul.
>> Additional reporting by Tim Bradshaw and Jim Pickard
>> Table
>> Ways for consumers to access music, films or television programmes
>> online range from the illicit to the legitimate, though clarity is
>> frequently lacking in between:
>> *BLACK (facing legal action): Pirate Bay , Mininova , Isohunt
>> *WHITE (backed by rights holders): iTunes , Hulu , Spotify , BBC iPlayer
>> *GREY (linking to both licensed and unlicensed content): Megavideo
>> (video streaming); Hype Machine (music blog aggregator); Surf the
>> Channel , Sidereel (television show search engines)
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