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Posts Tagged ‘3 Strikes Rule’

Beware, the Tides of Octember (sic).

October 2, 2008 Leave a comment

September was busy, with many interesting developments that provide further evidence of the never-ending struggle between: the good, the bad, and the ugly, in the ongoing transition towards a digital content economy – never mind the real ‘credit crunched’ version. The implications are manifold and open to interpretation as I’m sure you’ll find. 

Note: the verdict at the end of each story represents my take on the likely impact of that particular development. It is only an expression of my opinion, and the right to free speech, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you all that.

  1. EU says no to 3 strikes rule, but ISPs may still get to throttle your bandwidth:

    Last week the European parliament voted against implementing the “3 strikes rule” across the EU on the grounds that it restricts user’s rights and freedoms (full story can be found here). [Verdict = 1 step forward]

  2. RIAA vs. Jammie Thomas – case headed for retrial:

    A US district judge has called for the retrial of this case which, last year, ordered the defendant, Jammie Thomas, to pay a fine of $222,000 for making songs available for download. According to this digital music news article, the evidence of infringement did not really stack up given that the party downloading the tracks was working as an agent of the plaintiff (i.e. RIAA). [Verdict = 1 step forward]

  3. Punishing Innovation – the death of Muxtape.com:

    The recent demise of Muxtape, an innovative music start-up, which allowed users to upload MP3 files for streaming in a mixtape format just goes to show how tough the struggle can get be (even for those that choose to play by the rules, and provide a legal service from the very start). The full story, as told by Muxtape’s founder, is posted on the website and it paints the picture of a dysfunctional music industry with and exhausting & ultimately unworkable licensing and legal process. [Verdict = 3 steps backward]

  4. MySpace Music launched at last:

    The highly anticipated launch of MySpace music (with backing of the four major labels) was one of the highlights of the past month, and was met with a blogstorm of mixed opinions and criticisms, as perhaps could be expected for an outfit of that stature. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the music scene. [Verdict = No Movement]

  5. Return to Phorm – BT’s Webwise for targeted advertisement:

    The final trial of BT’s targeted advertising platform commenced on the 30th of September, and it is aimed at selected BT customers who can elect to have their browsing habits monitored, in order to receive better targeted ads based on their preferences. The Open Rights group has published four reasons not to participate in this trial, but given that this is not a mandatory, or hidden exercise, I think it is an interesting one to watch for all the right reasons. [Verdict = 2 step forward]

There are several other examples but I’m sure you get the picture, September was a busy month. However, it looks like October could be even more interesting with some stories already brewing as follows:

  • Pre-emptive & “Counter-emptive” lawsuits – RealNetworks RealDVD vs. MPAA: Either way the lawyers win the day in this particular battle. (For more coverage click here (Reuters) and here (Gartner)
  • Online Royalty Decision – Apple threatens to shutdown iTunes: According to this article, the Copyright Royalty Board will make a decision today that may bring about the closure of iTunes if they insist on increasing the royalty payable to song publishers (more information here)

It will be interesting to see how these stories develop over the next few weeks, but one conclusion is that there is some progress overall. However the rate of progress may have to increase quite rapidly in order to get us to the destination of an enhanced digital content experience. The one nagging question is that if nobody knows what this destination looks like, then how will we know if and when we get there?

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

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Moving from DRM to ISP-RM

August 3, 2008 Leave a comment

Last month the BBC news website reported that six major UK ISPS had reached an agreement with the music industry to tackle content piracy by monitoring and sending out warning letters to suspected illegal file sharers. Given other similar recent proposals (e.g. 3 strikes rule), and the dismal failure of media DRM, one can’t help but ask the question: is this merely a transition from DRM to “ISP-RM” and will it meet a similar fate?

This above voluntary agreement is centred around a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), drawn up by the UK Government department for Business and Enterprise Regulatory Reform (BERR), and will involve mass mailing of notification letters to suspect illegal file sharers (including download and upload), and subsequent bandwidth throttling for “hardcore” or persistent file sharers. Now this is all well and good until we start to think about the practicality and implications for various stakeholders (i.e. whose interests are best served by this initiative) based on the following top-of-head analysis of desirable outcomes:

  1. Creative Stakeholders (i.e. artistes and content creators – not necessarily rights owners. E.g. musicians, performers, producers etc.) – More economic benefits derived from their works as a result of reduced piracy directly from this initiative
  2. Technology Stakeholders (i.e. providers of content access and consumption services e.g. ISPs and device makers) – Reduced exposure to risk of legal threats / actions by content rights owners
  3. Commercial Stakeholders (i.e. content rights owners and their representative organisations e.g. BPI and MPAA) – Reduced piracy and a better return on investment from content IP
  4. Governance Stakeholders (i.e. lawmakers and enforcers e.g. the UK Government and legal practitioners) – A better more functional implementation and enforcement of digital IP / eCopyright system
  5. Consumer Stakeholders (i.e. consumers and end-users of digital content) – Assured quality of service from their Broadband provider and reduced risk of legal action by content owners for infringement

Hmmm…, everyone wins it would appear; but cynics might suggest that some stakeholders stand to win more than others (as usual) and they won’t be far wrong. However, the real question should be about which stakeholder group/s has the most power to derail the whole arrangement, and to what extent they have they been consulted / involved in this initiative.

And now a word from the Cylons:

On lighter note, I think the Cylons may have the best, albeit device oriented, philosophy and explanation / clarification of the problems with DRM and other digital content control mechanisms, as shown on the YouTube video.

I look forward to your comments on this one!

The ISP’s dilemma

February 24, 2008 Leave a comment

It seems that this year might be quite a significant one for Internet Service Providers judging from the various headlines and articles relating to their future, or lack thereof.

The recent slew of ISP related articles in the blogosphere, as well as some news headlines and TV coverage, all seem to point to the fact that something is brewing in the world of the ISP and whether good or bad, it is bound to affect us all. Particular examples include:

  • Failure of the ISP business model – ISPs are being threatened by increasing adoption of legal download services like the BBC iPlayer. According to The Register this has meant increasing demand for bandwidth without additional income for the ISPs
  • Broadband Review – Another article in The Register also describes an imminent review of broadband adoption in the UK by the new minister for business regulation.
  • 3 Strikes Rule – The Times set this one rolling and it got quite a reaction from many parties as evidenced in the last DRM blog post and comments.

The obvious common thread to all of this is the increasing penetration of broadband and demand for bandwidth. It would appear that Internet access is becoming another utility service much like our water supply or energy; however the economics of “use more, pay more” does not seem to translate well in the Information age.

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Note: This post was previously published on the BCS DRM Blog. Here is a link to the original post and reader comments.

Three Strikes Rule for Illegal Downloads

February 12, 2008 Leave a comment

An article in the The Times has reported that we may soon see the introduction of a three-strike rule, aimed at stopping the illegal download of content, to be enforced by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This may sound like an excellent idea to some, but will it really work as intended?

The proposed regime could require service providers to adopt a three step protocol to deal with downloaders of illegal content as follows:

  1. Send a warning email to the suspected user account on the first offence
  2. Suspend the users’ account if they are caught again downloading illegal content
  3. Terminate the user’s account if they offend a third time

On the surface, this makes perfect sense, in a two plus two makes four kind of way, but early reactions to this proposal identify some fairly obvious obstacles like:

  • How can ISPs prove the Internet account holder is indeed guilty of illegally downloading content, (especially in the face of things like bandwidth stealing or wi-fi piggy-backing)?
  • Implementing the three strike protocol will undoubtedly bring some cost implication for ISPs, in addition to the negative PR associated with effectively targeting their own customers (much like the music industry)
  • Finally the suspended or terminated user could easily sign up with another ISP, unless there exists some shared national register of offenders (don’t get me started on the implications for personal privacy)

Disclosure: Yours truly just spent one of his allotted fifteen minutes-of-fame talking about this to Channel Five News. Suggested alternatives to the three-strike regime may include the pre-emptive adoption of a voluntary and self-regulatory process that is defined and agreed by the ISPs; or indeed the creation of better value propositions by content owners that can effectively compete with free or illegal content downloads (the BBC iPlayer is a prime example).

Overall, the three strike proposal may be yet another ‘solution’ (similar to past experiments with draconian DRM) that needs to be tried, tested and perhaps discarded on our never-ending journey towards attaining the necessary cultural shift, required by all stakeholders, to realise the potential of our connected world. Can anyone tell me otherwise?

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Note:  This post was previously published on the BCS DRM Blog. Here is a link to the original post and reader comments.