feeds | grep links > New Copyright for Chile, Microsoft for HMTL5, AT&T’s Comment to IP Czar and Rumored Patent Attack on Theora

  • Chile gets a new copyright law
    As Mike Masnick explains it at Techdirt, it doesn’t sound as radical as India’s. The new limits and exceptions are no doubt welcome but hardly sweeping. Worse, the come at the expense of stiffer penalties for infringement.
  • Microsoft speaks up for HTML5, against Flash
    Engadget has a link to comments from an IE program manager. I think this is hardly a surprise giving the drubbing IE is taking at the hands of every other browser that is already support parts of HTML5. Since this in the wakes of Jobs’ hate letter to Adobe over Flash, Microsoft touches on that too, conceding some points to Jobs but bowing to the ubiquity of Flash.
  • Surprising comments by AT&T to IP Czar
    As Nate Anderson at Ars Technica explains, AT&T isn’t against three strikes but is for a lesser obligation from 3rd parties, such as itself, and more judicial oversight. It may seem surprising until you realize the costs the carrier would have to bear to process the notices required by a three strikes proposal.
  • Apple rumored to be assembling patent pool to use against Ogg Theora
    It is a very good thing that Google announced its intent to open the VP-8 video codec that it got as part of its On2 acquisition. According to The Register, Jobs plan may have be provoked, or merely revealed, when an FSF advocate contacted him about open video in response to his Flash letter. While this is very speculative, it could slow Theora adoption so having another open codec backed by Google hedges the bets of those of us interested in open standards and open source for video on the web.

Following Up for the Week Ending 4/25/2010

High Court Clears the Way for Three Strikes in Ireland

As TorrentFreak explains, this is not a regime being legislated into existing but via the Irish trade association, IRMA, arranging a deal with the country’s largest ISP, Eircom.

In February 2009, IRMA – which controls 90% of Ireland’s recorded music and represents the labels EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner – reached a private agreement with Ireland’s largest ISP, Eircom, which would see them implement a 3 strikes-style arrangement for dealing with alleged pirates.

A private deal like this is troublesome because it bypasses any public debate or pressure for judicial oversight. It is hard to see how to stop it given that taking the parties to court has failed, at least based on arguments about the legal standing of an IP address. Perhaps further complaints will be raised based on access to the net as a basic human right.

Piracy Increases in France Despite Three Strikes

TorrentFreak has news of a report finding piracy increasing in France despite passage of Hadopi, the French three strikes and your off the internet law. The increase is modest, mind you, at 3%. As the article explains, users have shifted their piracy to services, like streaming and web-lockers, that are not covered by the law.

This is actually very consisted with some of the earliest thought on Piracy, as explained by the dark net paper. Published in 2002 by some folks at Microsoft, the hypothesis they put forward was that attempts to stop piracy of digital goods would merely encourage those exchanges to move to less regulated spaces, to dark nets.

If nothing else, Hadopi is proving to be an interesting experiment in advance of other countries looking to adopt three strikes laws. I am still skeptical that this or any other research will have more than a negligible impact on the policy making. That is the nature of panics, they defy reasoned persuasion based on substantiation, common sense and logic.

NZ Introduces Copyright Amendment, Avoids “Three Strikes”

TorrentFreak has the details. The language in the bill that will repeal the controversial section 92a and replace it actually seems pretty consistent with changes to the British Digital Economy Bill. The rhetoric has been softened, avoiding the word “disconnect” in favor of “suspend”.

Despite the more-gently named “three notice” regime (versus the more commonly used “3 strikes” term) the effects are the same. The bill will enable copyright owners to claim damages and make requests for the Internet subscriptions of infringers to be suspended.

Like yesterday’s statement from Downing Street, it isn’t clear where, if any, judicial oversight has been added to the process. Both seem like a mere softening of language but not effect. With the trend toward network access being critical to public life and access tom services, even the limited, six month suspension is still disproportionate and public interest group, InternetNZ, agrees.

I am also worried that the focus on disconnection or suspension will distract public interest groups from the other measures. Have they considered whether the new statutory damages are appropriate? It looks like it may still be possible for rights holders to exaggerate damage claims. The whole package needs to be held up for scrutiny, to determine if the rights and limits are reasonable, not just the most onerous measures from past drafts.

Is Three Strikes Being Abandoned in the UK?

Jolie O’Dell at ReadWriteWeb is one of many sources reporting that subscriber disconnection by ISPs on accusation of infringement no longer be part of the implementation of the Digital Economy Bill. The basis for thinking this is so is the response by Downing Street to a petition circulated by the ISP, TalkTalk.

The Register points out you have to read the statement on the Number10 much more closely.

The Bill would require ISPs to write to their customers whose accounts had been identified by a rights holder as having been used for illegal down loading of their material. In the cases of the most serious infringers, if a rights holder obtains a court order, the ISP would have to provide information so that the rights holder can take targeted court action.

We hope these arrangements on their own will secure our aim of a 70% reduction in illegal peer to peer file sharing. If that proves not to be the case, the Bill provides a reserve power obliging an ISP to apply ‘technical measures’ to a customer’s internet account to restrict or prevent illegal sharing. Technical measures might be a band width restriction, a daily downloading limit or, as a last resort, temporary account suspension. A proper independent appeal would be available against application of technical measures.

If I am reading this correctly, the plan is for a notice, followed up by increasingly stiffer measures. The language around those is incredibly fuzzy but I can almost guarantee the effect will be the same. I suspect if the bill is passed with language along these lines, we’ll see court cases between rights holders and ISPs trying to force the issue of “technical measures”.

There is just too little detail for me to believe this is much of an improvement. What exactly will be a “proper independent appeal”? Means for re-dressing false claims has been a sore point with precursors of the Digital Economy Bill and this doesn’t appear like it would do much better.

It is also interesting to note that the only mention of judicial interaction is for procuring subscriber data for “targeted court action”. No mention of a court order required for technical measures. It is surprising given how carefully crafted this message is to address, and potentially deflate, very specific concerns that there is nothing that would ease fears of guilt on accusation. Is it that hard to understand that we need oversight for that part of the process even more than the well trod ground of securing subscriber data?

Following Up for the Week Ending 2/7/2010

Three Strikes Agenda Laid Bare

Alex Curtis at Public Knowledge has an excellent write up of panel at the recent State of the Network event he attended. The panel discussed the policy of three strikes then disconnection that the trade associations have been flogging. Except, as Alex points out, those associations declined to attend.

Left to their own, the panelists supporting the associations’ agendas committed some pretty telling missteps.

an ISP representative asked what would happen to terminated users who use VOIP as their sole telephony service, effectively cutting off homes from 911 emergency calls? There were two fairly shocking responses: Perlmutter essentially said that ISPs have ways of making distinctions between VOIP and other Internet traffic (implying that ISPs should monitor all subscribers traffic using deep packet inspection) and MP Robertson said that if someone is breaking the law via infringement, their service has to be “withdrawn” (read: terminated or otherwise suspended).

As with the last story I mentioned, defenders of disconnection need to be held to a much higher rhetorical bar. This kind of muddled, non-answer would be enough to torpedo policy positions in any number of other debates, why not here?

IFPI Claims Three Strikes Can Be Executed Surgically

I only share this post by Mike Masnick at Techdirt because it demonstrates how dangerously disconnected from reality the trade associations are from reality. If they cannot give a feasible answer to a legitimate concern, they sure shouldn’t be making up garbage like this. The only thing that concerns me more is that many of the politicians to whom they are pressing their suit are technologically illiterate enough to believe this fantasy.

Estimating the Cost of Three Strikes

Michael Geist does a good job of scoping out some of the costs beyond those to disconnected subscribers that three-strikes policies would impose.

Much of the three-strikes debate has focused on its impact on Internet users, yet the price of establishing such systems have scarcely been discussed. That may be changing due to the UK government’s own estimates on the likely costs borne by Internet providers and taxpayers in establishing and maintaining a three-strikes system.

The British estimates are probably the most well known but not the only data point, as he explains. There may be a more drastic effect on competition amongst access providers. That is worth taking some time to consider.

One of the biggest criticisms public interest groups here in the US have leveled against the FCC’s broadband plan is the lack of positive attention for insufficient competition in that market. Now imagine coupling that with higher transaction costs that would reinforce the status quo, effectively punishing consumers repeatedly without increasing the accountability of the ISPs themselves.