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Do We Want ISPs Penalizing Music Fans? 263

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the rhetorical-questions dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Noted singer songwriter Billy Bragg has written an excellent column in The Guardian, coming out against the pro-RIAA '3-strikes' legislation the big 4 record labels are trying to push through. In the article, entitled 'Do we want ISPs penalizing our fans?', Bragg writes: 'Having failed miserably in previous attempts to stamp out illicit filesharing, the record industry has now joined forces with other entertainment lobby groups to demand that the government takes action to protect their business model.' He goes on: 'Fearful of the prospect of dragging their customers though the courts, with all the attendant costs and bad publicity, members of the record industry have come up with a simple, cost-free solution to their problem: get the ISPs to do their dirty work for them. They are asking the government to force the ISPs to cut off the broadband connection of customers who persistently download unauthorized material, without any recourse to appeal in the courts.'"
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Do We Want ISPs Penalizing Music Fans?

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  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:45PM (#27999887) Homepage

    Don't cut the broadband for any crime until it's proven in court.

    It's not the role of the ISP to act as a police for a third party.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      And watch as the ISP's pass the cost of enforcement on to the customer. Huzzah, we're screwed all around!
    • by seanpark (690789) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:52PM (#28000043)
      At least one ISP has responded to these sort of requests with a "so where's your billing address, RIAA?" I think they were in New Orleans, and they certainly have a point. Why should ISPs police their networks and eliminate revenue without compensation?
      • by Hatta (162192) on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:10PM (#28000365) Journal

        If the ISPs won't play along, the content industry will have legislation passed to make them play along.

        • by rhyder128k (1051042) on Monday May 18, 2009 @03:25PM (#28001635) Homepage
          People who do a substantial amount of media downloading are amongst the least profitable customers for an ISP. An old granny who just checks her email from time to time is an ideal customer for the ISP.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Nursie (632944)

            I'm not convinced any more.

            Granny is probably on the cheapest 0.5-2Mbps package, whereas the downloader is paying more for the premium, faster packages.

            Add to that the whole new class of broadband media consumers using iTunes and YouTube and Hulu... well, I think the early part of this decade where the downloader was the biggest hog and only paid the minimum is over.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by rhyder128k (1051042)
              They are two classes of user but there are more than two classes. Add into the mix the guy who's machine is downloading all day. There ought to be a limit to how much a person can consume but he's the guy who barely even looks at most of the stuff he collects. A generation earlier, he would have had drawer fulls of never looked at disks for his Amiga.
    • by KillerCow (213458) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:58PM (#28000153)

      No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law

      • Is the Internet life, liberty or property? While clearly lacking due process, I don't think this is depriving you of any of those three.

        • by deraj123 (1225722) on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:45PM (#28000999)
          I would say that my right to enter into and maintain a voluntary, contractual agreement with an ISP falls under "liberty". Proposed law (as it has been presented in the summary) would remove that right from both me and the ISP, without due process.
        • by Archfeld (6757) * <treboreel@live.com> on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:52PM (#28001097) Journal

          I depend TOTALLY on the internet for my employment and the maintenance of my way of life.
          My house, family, food, and their healthcare are ALL genereated from the work I do on/through the net.
          If my ISP, I do use a business connection, decided to drop my T1 for some not payment related failure, I would be VERY SCREWED, and would likely seek/need legal recourse.

              Note : I don't download music I don't already own a physical copy of, but some of that material is on 8 or 4 track tape that I bought in 1974, I've format switched it via the internet. The music industry insists on a license to listen, not ownership model so be it. If you own ANY physical copy of the material the you are entitled to the material in different formats. If they want to change their policy to ownership of the single copy then I will change my behavior to reflect that.

    • by Meshach (578918) on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:57PM (#28001177)
      Why is is the ISP's job to police their users for the RIAA? If I own a building do I have to arrest drug dealers who congregate on my property? All I have to do is call the police. It is not my job to monitor their conversations and present a report on their "illegal activities" so that they can be persecuted.
  • Billy Bragg has fans?



    (I keed! I keed!)
    • by owlnation (858981)
      I'm more curious to understand why Bragg's considered "noted". Didn't he have a one hit wonder sometime back in the early 80's? I assume than no-one in the UK over the age of 20, and no-one in any other country, has ever heard of him.

      Unless of course you mean noted as a sock-puppet of the Labour Regime. That, he most certainly is.
      • Re:Wait a second... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Nick Ives (317) on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:15PM (#28000469)

        Your post makes no sense. Nobody in the UK over the age of 20? So you think he makes music for teenagers and little kiddies?

        The funny thing about Bragg is that whilst he's always willing to give uncritical support to the Labour regime of the day, his songs are actually quite critical of them and their policies. The track "O Freedom" from his latest album is about Labour's policy of locking up terrorist suspects without a proper trial or letting them know the evidence against them. That system has been taken apart (I think...) but it was actually worse than gitmo because these people were arrested in this country.

        I'm not a fan of Bragg, mainly because I'm not a fan of folk-rock, but I know lots of people who are. Most of them are in their 20s but I'd expect that's because most of my friends are in their 20s. They're all active socialists and trade-unionists so it's to be expected that Bragg would speak to them.

        If you venture outside of the mainstream, you're sure to find plenty of Bragg fans here in the UK.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by palindrome (34830)

        "Unless of course you mean noted as a sock-puppet of the Labour Regime. That, he most certainly is."

        I thought you said no one had heard of him? If you don't like the guy then fair enough but he's hardly a sock-puppet of Labour. I can't imagine Labour saying "Pssst, Billy, go and have a go at the RIAA."

        He says what he thinks and points out what he sees as unfair. I, personally, respect him for that.

        (also I think you meant under 20, not over)

      • Billy Bragg and the neo-Thatcherites who usurped the Labour name have very little in common.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by stuntpope (19736)

        I'm a big fan of his, and I live in the United States. I haven't seen him in a long time, but I did see him several times in the late 1980s and the 1990s and got the chance to speak with him for awhile. (I think you must have meant no one UNDER 20 has heard of him).

        The only downside was having to see Michelle Shocked.

  • ... the faster you idiots make yourself irrelevant, the sooner I can load up Slashdot without seeing articles like this.

    • ... the faster you idiots make yourself irrelevant, the sooner I can load up Slashdot without seeing articles like this.

      Translation: Get off my lawn!

      • Yeah, well I really *do* care about bogus laws being passed, but I've already written my lawmakers & all of them informed me that they already had the RIAA firmly implanted up their ass & really don't care about my thoughts, so I just don't buy their shit or listen to the radio anymore. Haven't in 9 years or so.

        Thank $DEITY for RIAARadar

        • Yeah, well I really *do* care about bogus laws being passed, but I've already written my lawmakers & all of them informed me that they already had the RIAA firmly implanted up their ass & really don't care about my thoughts, so I just don't buy their shit or listen to the radio anymore. Haven't in 9 years or so.

          Thank $DEITY for RIAARadar

          It's a shame you got modded flamebait, I was making a wisecrack but I do see where you're coming from. I'd just disable YRO on your main page so you don't see any of these articles. If you know how to code, you can always make a greasemonkey script to cut out certain keywords.

          • by Jaysyn (203771)

            Let them waste their mod points. Karma is for pussies :D

            Really, I like most of the YRO articles. I'm really just sick of whiny artists & media execs abusing the legal system, but can't really do anything about it except for not buying their crap.

            So I don't. And really, I don't feel like I've missed a thing.

        • by funkatron (912521)
          Have you tried electing different lawmakers?
          • by Jaysyn (203771)

            Yes, but the other ones (Democrats) that are running are, for all intents & purposes, *even farther* in the RIAA's pocket then the current Republican overlords.

        • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday May 18, 2009 @04:13PM (#28002329)

          Unfortunately, the RIAA interprets your "not buying their music" as being the same as "another Internet pirate illegally downloading/sharing their music." After all, they reason, their music is vital to everyone's life and anyone who doesn't buy the minimum that the RIAA deems necessary must be pirating the rest. (This comment would be going for the Funny tag if it weren't true.)

          • Unfortunately, the RIAA interprets your "not buying their music" as being the same as "another Internet pirate illegally downloading/sharing their music." After all, they reason, their music is vital to everyone's life and anyone who doesn't buy the minimum that the RIAA deems necessary must be pirating the rest. (This comment would be going for the Funny tag if it weren't true.)

            Yes it is true. But I think it's really just a handful of executives. The same ones who never figured out how to make money on the internet. So to make themselves look better, they are trying to scapegoat copyright infringement. The record companies' real enemy is obsolescence.

  • More importantly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:49PM (#27999973) Journal
    Do we want "justice" meted out without even the pretense of due process, with accusation equaling guilt, and control in the hands of an unaccountable mess of corporate pressure groups?

    The chap from TFA seems nice enough, and it is good that he is thinking about the question; but, thing is, it isn't his call. Allowing penalties to be assessed for private gain, without any sort of judicial process, is a grotesque parody of justice. It should not be countenanced anywhere. I'm glad that there are some on the music side that are uncomfortable with the idea; but that isn't the point. The point is that "3 strikes" and its ilk are wholly unacceptable. If they agree, great, if they don't, tough.
    • Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:05PM (#28000277)
      ... and not only that, but there is no practical way for ISPs to know what traffic is passing under your name, without intrusively inspecting the packets. That is without precedent; it is akin to asking telephone companies to listen in on your calls to determine if you are a using the telephone "improperly".
      • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BobMcD (601576) on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:37PM (#28000899)

        Furthermore, if the DMCA-takedown notices and John Doe suits are to be taken into consideration, there is ZERO accountability for these corporate police.

        If the ISP's are going to have to count off these 'strikes' merely on RIAA say-so, then a great many will be falsely impugned. If for no other reason, these sleaze balls have demonstrated that being lazy is far easier than putting forth any actual effort in an investigation.

        "We couldn't tell who was doing the actual file sharing, so we instructed the ISP to mark a strike against the entire block of addresses..." This doesn't seem out of character for this group. Giving them more power HAS to be a bad idea.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bzipitidoo (647217)

          I think the RIAA's efforts are "cut from whole cloth". They don't care about 3 strikes or doing an upstanding investigation, that's all window dressing to them, hoops to be endured, wide spots on the road to their real destination.

          The real object is to kill the Internet. Kicking everyone off is one way to do it. They'd absolutely love a mistake that chopped thousands of people's access over one alleged infraction, as long as it didn't start a successful revolt. If they thought it could be done, they w

  • by seanpark (690789)
    More and more of the music I get into is independent. Much of it is self-released (The Turn-Ons are a good recent example). Side note: Radiohead "self-releasing" is a joke, as they were propped up by major labels for years beforehand and had a well-established fan base. Any kind of offensive in this climate by the RIAA is just silly. They are so irrelevant. If they shut down Another Greast Music Tracker, I'm going to law school.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spazztastic (814296)

      If they shut down Another Great Music Tracker, I'm going to law school.

      If they shut down Another Great Music Tracker, it will be replaced by Two Lesser Music Trackers. Stamping out the "problem" is the worst thing they could do. As long as there is a demand, the community will supply it.

  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:51PM (#28000023) Homepage Journal

    If the ISPs are to be considered a 'common carrier', then this is not their duty.

    Other points, if the ISPs are going to be doing this:
      - How are they to decide when something is fair use, when even the big media companies get it wrong so often?
      - Who is going to pay them to do the dirty work of the media industry?
      - This is like getting Walmart to ban you because something you are doing is not kosher in HMV.

    There are certainly other problems with this whole 'getting the ISPs' to do the dirty work, but I have a 'failure of imagination' when it comes to the other issues.

    • How about this: the only one who can make a judgement about a civil case is a court of law?
      • How about this: the only one who can make a judgement about a civil case is a court of law?

        That won't work. As long as there is a mob mentality with the media and the groups going after individuals it won't change. Don Imus [wikipedia.org] had his livelihood threatened when he made an offhand comment because of the mob mentality, yet he didn't violate any laws.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sexconker (1179573)

      ISPs do not have common carrier status.
      Shocking I know, but the internet may have mislead you!

      • ISPs do not have common carrier status.

        Fair enough, but what is their status with regards to the data that passes through their networks?

    • by Nick Ives (317)

      Your post is yet another instance of someone thinking US law extends around the world...

      We don't have common carriers here in the UK. If we did then we wouldn't have had Godfrey v Demon Internet Service.

      To save you from a Google: Mr Godfrey sued Demon Internet because someone posted something libellous about him in a Usenet group. The court found that, by hosting Usenet servers, Demon Internet had republished the libel and were therefore liable. This is why, AFAIK, no ISPs in the UK host their own Usenet se

      • The court found that, by hosting Usenet servers, Demon Internet had republished the libel and were therefore liable.

        I wasn't aware of that case, but at the same time it is yet another example of the legal system being far behind on how the internet works. What the legal system doesn't grasp is that the internet is copy by default and where the distinction should be made is in what form that copy is and for what period. In many ways usenet could be considered a global caching system of news content.

      • The parent completely glosses over the fact that in Godfrey vs. Demon, the ISP had been told about the offending content and declined to act. It also completely fails to mention the provisions under section 1 of the Defamation Act 1996, relating to the defence of innocent dissemination. These were pretty important factors in the case in question, particularly in that one was used to negate the other in the reasoning. The legal position reached was somewhat analogous to the "safe harbor" provisions under the

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Nick Ives (317)

          That's a very fair point and it's taken.

          Godfrey v Demon, however, did have a chilling effect on Usenet provision in the UK because no ISP wants to have to police their Usenet service in such a fashion. Hosting a full Usenet service is (or at least was in those days) expensive just in hardware terms, adding people to police take-down notices is a burden too far.

  • why ISPs might agree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bugi (8479) on Monday May 18, 2009 @01:57PM (#28000141)

    Clearly this is against an ISP's best interest, but here's a few reasons they might go along with it anyway.

    (1) Some ISPs (like AOL) are owned by the media bullies.

    (2) Larger ISPs have legal departments to handle the lawsuits sure to ensue. Smaller ISPs don't. Bye bye competition.

    • by Datasage (214357)

      With the exception of number 1, I can't imagine any ISP's going along with this. A large number of people download music and movies, many of them unlicensed. The file distribution networks gave users what the RI/MPAA wouldn't and has cemented itself into internet culture. People don't think twice about downloading a movie or song off of pirate bay anymore.

      A company may be ok shutting down a small handful of customers, but the practice of file sharing is pretty ingrained into an entire generation. Would an I

      • RI/MPAA

        I think the clearest way to abbreviate this combination would be [RI|MP]AA, although one could argue for ??AA or **AA as well.

  • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Monday May 18, 2009 @02:01PM (#28000205)

    Here we have two [slashdot.org] adjacent [slashdot.org] /. stories: one about ISPs being responsible for users' behavior, the other about ISPs not being responsible for users' behavior.

    What is needed is a clarification, likely from SCOTUS, on whether ISPs are "common carriers" or not. If they are, then ISPs have to monitor postings and downloads (punishing people according to ... uh ... well they're not police or courts so it's really unclear how they're supposed to detect & respond re: users' behavior). If they are not, then ISPs can finally tell everyone else to take it up with the actual legally-identifiable offender.

    • I think you have it backwards, don't you? Common carriers, IIRC, need not and in fact can not monitor communications. If they were to, they'd lose their CC status.
    • Also, it would help if Slashdot posters realised that the US can't dictate the law to the rest of the world, much as it often tries to, and that neither the US Constitution nor the SCOTUS are the defining authority for what copyright is, why it exists, or what it may or may not do. The other 95% of the world's population are getting a bit bored with this now.

  • that since there were losing the war on customers they should recruit allies and open another front. I really don't see that it matters what they do, the will never win the war against their customers.
  • Don't they realize such a system won't work, at least not for the artist.

    OK, lets say such a thing is adopted by the masses and people happily fork over $25 a month for unlimited P2P downloads (not counting that $25-$45 you already pay for broadband). OK, the *IAAs get their $25 and they are once again allowed to print their money. Well they already have the old infrastructure for getting cash so part of the $25 goes to funding that. Another part will go to setting up and maintaining infrastructure on the n

  • Now that the RIAA is putting the ISPs in charge of policing the net, how am I supposed to have any recourse when I am downloading Nine Inch Nails' work WITH PERMISSION [stereogum.com]? But not just in Australia! I've seen him domestically in the US, and he has repeated the statement many times, from Philadelphia, to Red Rocks (that I personally know of)

    How do we expect:

    1. that we have proper recourse
    2. that the ISPs are up2date with every musicians' sharing policies?

    I blame (and commend Trent) for making the RIAA look like buf

  • We also.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by SlashDev (627697)
    .. don't want people submitting articles with spelling mistakes. This 's is really getting on my nerves.
  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Monday May 18, 2009 @05:07PM (#28003155) Journal

    Your "appeal" is to sue your ISP.

    This is effectively a law that defines a punishment, enforced by a private business. First off, private businesses are not police. Second, this law sentences you (disconnection from ISP service, DICTATED BY LAW) without fair hearing; that is unconstitutional.

    Come on, aren't any of you lawyers?

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday May 18, 2009 @05:31PM (#28003467) Homepage

    We need to automate the generation and production of music, and crush the music industry like a bug.

    Listen to this sample. [vocaloid.com] That was created with Yamaha Vocaloid. [vocaloid.com] The product sells for $179.95. [soundsonline.com] It's better than many singers. We're getting close.

    This technology is like MIDI players, a generation later. You need the composition and instrument models. Then the player puts it all together. You can mix and match; choose a different singer or instruments. (Question: is there enough compute power in an iPhone to run this?)

    If this catches on, the music industry will be crushed.

    There's still a need for composers. Easy Music Composer [softpedia.com] isn't quite good enough. Yet.

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