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Piracy Your Rights Online

RIAA, MPAA Recruit MasterCard As Internet Police 421

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-low-interest-sheriff-in-town dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Two weeks ago, MasterCard felt the wrath of Anonymous Operation Payback-style DDoS attacks after refusing to process payments that were intended to fund WikiLeaks, the website which began leaking confidential US diplomatic cables last month. Now, the company is preparing to head down another controversial path by pledging to deny transactions which support websites that host pirated movies, music, games, or other copyrighted content. MasterCard lobbyists have also been in talks with entertainment industry trade groups, including the RIAA and the MPAA, and have made it clear that the company will support the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), sources close to the talks have said."
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RIAA, MPAA Recruit MasterCard As Internet Police

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  • most of the PAY warez sites seems to seen scams and some even list fake games or other stuff just to make there file list seem big.

  • Welcome the accountant Overlords... verily they will be with thee always...
  • by compro01 (777531) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:47PM (#34646014)

    Ok, fine. You are now liable for any criminal transactions you don't block.

    If you don't like that, you will send my money where I tell you to.

    • Ok, fine. You are now liable for any criminal transactions you don't block.

      Just like the police are liable for any criminal activities they can't stop.

      While I agree with your sentiments, it's not exactly a fair solution.

    • by corbettw (214229)

      Um, they already are. They eat the cost of criminal transactions rather than force their customers to absorb all of those losses. Given that, it makes sense for them to block people from making payments to criminal enterprises (since their "customers" could easily turn around and say "I didn't buy those downloaded CDs, I'm not paying that money.")

    • You know what would be funny right about now? For the same silly folks that claim you can vote with your wallet when it comes to poor service and high prices for communication services to chime in about credit payment service companies...
    • Ok, fine. You are now liable for any criminal transactions you don't block.

      If you don't like that, you will send my money where I tell you to.

      Yes, but this is also similar to a Google story recently, (and a comment I made about the possible dangers of Google proactively filtering content of this nature). For whatever reason, the pressures in this respect seem to be causing a lot of big companies to bow down and make what could be really big mistakes. These mistakes invalidate parts of the DMCA protection by proving the company/companies can filter stuff - but you already allude to that.

    • by jez9999 (618189)

      There are some things MasterCard doesn't want you to buy.
      For everything else, there's MasterCard.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:48PM (#34646020)

    will Indy music sites get shut down as well?

    pioneer one donations?

    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      Of course. Indie music is destroying the industry by providing more variety, fresher ideas and comparable quality for less money (or even FREE) without paying a dime to the RIAA. How are artists supposed to express themselves artistically without the RIAA protecting them?

      • They may get caught in the crossfire. I know indy bands have had terrible problems trying to sell their music in CD form on ebay, because ebay's policy is to assume that anything on CD-R is copyright infringing, no exceptions. It would cost more to investigate a claim of legality than they'd make from the auction, so they just blanket prohibit CD-Rs.
  • by Saishuuheiki (1657565) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:48PM (#34646042)

    While I'm not against Mastercard saying "We won't allow customers to use Mastercard to buy illegal goods", I doubt they'll have a proper list of who to deny.

    It would be ironic if suddenly less people allowed Mastercard for online purchases. I gotta imagine that nowadays online transactions are a large proportion of their income.

  • then you really missed the point.
  • I did my part (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Baron_Yam (643147) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:51PM (#34646084)

    Cancelled my MasterCard, then chopped it up. Enough people do that, MasterCard will start to wise up.

    Of course, I'm probably going to replace it with some flavour of Visa, which is probably just as evil and certainly did jump on the ban-Wikileaks bandwagon.

    • by oldspewey (1303305) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:09PM (#34646392)
      I bet that if 1 million people cut up their MasterCard and switch to Visa, and another million people cut up their Visa and switch to MasterCard, those evil bastards at the credit card companies will really start to sit up and take notice!
      • I bet they would.

        Considering thats 2 million cards worth of plastic with unique numbers that have to be linked to an individual with a credit score and yadda yadda yadda.

        They wouldn't lose Revenue, but it'd decrease profits.

      • Re:I did my part (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Baron_Yam (643147) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:31PM (#34646720)

        Honestly, I haven't really missed the card since I cancelled it (shortly after the Wikileaks/MasterCard issue popped up).

        I may just not bother to replace it for some time, if ever. Debit's pretty handy, and it's the same money anyway (if you're like me and pay off your credit card right away).

        For any big purchase, I have a line of credit with much better terms than any credit card I've heard of.

        I suppose there will be an issue if I ever use PayPal again... oh, wait, they're evil too.

        • by pclminion (145572)
          It might be the same money, but the price of the money is possibly different. Do you get 1% cash back on all purchases with your debit card, like you get with some major credit cards?
        • There's one problem I have with debit cards vs. credit cards. (At least theoretically; it's never come up for me.)

          I'm supposed to get the same protections on both. I can use either in similar ways.

          However, if there is a dispute, the money's in different places. If I have a credit card dispute, I've got the money, and they have no means to get it from me for at least as long as the dispute goes long. If I have a debit card dispute, the money's out of my account until the bank puts it back, which is

        • by Abcd1234 (188840)

          Debit's pretty handy, and it's the same money anyway (if you're like me and pay off your credit card right away).

          Unless you're in a location you trust, debit is a really *really* bad idea. If a machine has been tampered with, a thief could gain access to your account. And guess what? If you lose your cash, *the bank won't help you*.

          Conversely, fraudulent transactions on a CC are trivially reversed. Given the choice, particularly when traveling, I'd use a CC over a debit card any day of the week.

    • I was actually going to do that, but then Visa came and also blocked Wikileaks. There's no one left to replace them with.

      And no Amex, Diners, etc. aren't "real" credit cards. They aren't accepted in places I want to buy from.

    • by westlake (615356)

      Cancelled my MasterCard, then chopped it up. Enough people do that, MasterCard will start to wise up.

      But if nothing comes of it, will the geek wise up?

      Soon the government check won't be in the mail
      (AP) - 1 day ago

      WASHINGTON (AP) -- Before too long, the government check will no longer be in the mail.

      Officials have settled on the dates when millions of people will no longer be able to get their Social Security and other benefit checks by mail.

      New recipients of benefits will have to accept paperless payments

  • bye bye mastercard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Coraon (1080675) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:53PM (#34646136)
    if you want me to use your service, then you need me to be able to use your service. If I can't use your service for the things I want, that what do I need you for?
  • Money = Speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bughunter (10093) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @04:54PM (#34646146) Journal

    So let me get this right, money equals speech [wikipedia.org], according to various Supreme Court Rulings [wikipedia.org]. But a major corporation whose credit and debit vehicles constitute one of the major means for tendering payment, i.e., speech, is permitted to filter your payments to whomever it likes.

    In other words, a bank gets to decide when your speech is acceptable and when it isn't.

    And, of course, if you're wealthy or powerful enough, this isn't a hindrance. But if you're a working stiff, living on a trickle of cash flow and using revolving credit to solve the logistical problems thereof, you're essentially subject to the bank's approval of your fiscal expression.

    Yet another distinction between serfs and lords in the information age.

    • Somewhat of a flaw in the US legal system. The foundational princibles were written to provide extensive protection from government oppression, but none from corporate oppression. At the time there just hadn't been any corporations with so much power that it was seen as a concern. The age of the multinational megacorp didn't come until much later.
      • by MrKaos (858439)

        Somewhat of a flaw in the US legal system. The foundational princibles were written to provide extensive protection from government oppression, but none from corporate oppression. At the time there just hadn't been any corporations with so much power that it was seen as a concern. The age of the multinational megacorp didn't come until much later.

        At the time of the founding fathers a corporate charter was granted with the express goal of doing something and was forbidden, by law, to diversify. For example a

    • I lived on revolving credit for a while. It was a horrible, horrible idea.
    • Re:Money = Speech (Score:4, Informative)

      by maztuhblastah (745586) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @07:39PM (#34647916) Journal

      > So let me get this right, money equals speech,
      > Yet another distinction between serfs and lords in the information age.

      Nope.

      Cut the hyperbolic crap. Even the Wikipedia article that you linked to refutes that (emphasis mine):

      Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States upheld a federal law which set limits on campaign contributions, but ruled that spending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech, and struck down portions of the law.

      They didn't rule that "money equals speech". They ruled that "spending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech". There's a difference, a big one in fact.

  • Is this even legal?

    I mean, since when can a credit corporation tell you what you can and can't spend your money on?

    Where exactly do they draw the line? Who makes the decision as to what is ok and what is not okay?

    I see this as a very slippery slope. Mastercard should be very careful with these heavy-handed decisions.

    • by muphin (842524)
      actually its not YOUR money, your getting credit for a purchase, which you then have to pay (if its a credit, not a debit card). so they CAN do this but legally its grey area, but does open up doors if they start selectively denying transactions, more people will move to other credit providers or be sued for denying a legitimate transaction.... we shall see
    • by spidercoz (947220)
      That's just it, it's not *your* money, it's credit.
    • by mykos (1627575)
      Actually, they already deny transactions that are illegal in countries of the card's origin (certain types offshore gambling is one example I've seen).
      But this is screwed up in that it's not illegal to give money to, say, Bit Gamer or The Pirate Bay, but they're denying it anyway.
  • I have no problem with credit card companies refusing to do business with pirate sites or any site that sponsors or encourages illegal activities. If MasterCard bases their decisions on accurate information and is conservative about how they evaluate the evidence, that's not a bad thing. I would be concerned if MasterCard approached this with the same sort of "diligence" characteristic of the MPAA and RIAA where innocent parties are falsely accused and convicted until they prove otherwise. Are they also g
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:08PM (#34646364) Homepage

    The entire music industry, worldwide, only sold $15.8 billion in product last year. For comparison, worldwide liquor sales were about $220 billion, and a single booze company, Diageo (Smirnoff Vodka, Johhny Walker, José Cuervo, Baileys, and Guinness Stout) has more revenue than the entire music industry. On a worldwide scale, the music industry is tiny.

    On the movie side, MGM just came out of bankruptcy, and Warner is close to it. Hollywood Video went bust months ago, and Blockbuster is in bankruptcy. (Many Blockbuster stores will close after the holiday season.)

    In computing, Apple's revenue for fiscal 2010 is about $63 billion. Microsoft revenue was about $60 billion. HP annual revenue is about $120 billion. Dell annual revenue is about $52 billion. Google is around $23 billion. Comcast is around $36 billion. AT&T is at $124 billion. Any of those players could buy out the entire libraries of most music and movie companies.

    I'm surprised that Apple hasn't just bought out the music industry, rather than negotiating with it.

    • Never noticed how the little dogs make the most noise?

    • In terms of social influence though, music has a huge advantage. Music, film, TV, news... it's all basically the same few companies. So the music labels can be assured of favorable coverage in the media, because they *are* the media. For example, ABC is sure to tell lots of news stories about how internet piracy is ruining the film industry, for it is owned by Disney.
      • by Mashiki (184564)

        They only have influence if you watch it. And these days of the information age, the only people who watch TV the most are in the 40-60 bracket last time I looked. They are for all things a dying breed, most of the people here span two generations of information technology. We can remember the world without information being so easy to get, and we know how awesome it was when we could get it.

        The current generation of kids(20 and under) have no idea what life was like beforehand. They'll be the ones driv

    • Maybe they're waiting for it to get even cheaper. With the MPAA's current antics, it probably will.

  • we noticed (Score:5, Funny)

    by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:08PM (#34646378) Homepage
    you recently submitted a payment to sdf.lonestar.org for your MetaARPA sustaining membership. This site has been identified as a Hacking site [sdf.org]and as such has been blacklisted from our payment processing system. Furthermore your donation to OpenBSD has also been declined for processing as the openBSD project sponsors known hacking activity [wikipedia.org] and said bad things about our unquestionably patrio-tastic freedom war against terror.

    in summation your cards with us have also been cancelled as you've been identified without a magnetic ribbon on any vehicles registered in your name, and are obviously not supporting the troops.

    please consider purchasing a copy of jeff dunhams 'achmed the terrorist' comedy DVD, as well as anything sufficiently xenophobic, bigoted and patriotic from the Country music top 10/50/100 charts. Once clad only in a sweat-stained american flag and nourished only by fast food, can we consider reactivating any of your perpetual debt engines.

    regards,
    Master of Cards.
    • by Relayman (1068986)
      (Score: 5, Funny but it could happen)
    • Achmed is funny and everyone loves him.
    • how long before they designate "linux.org" as a hacking site... or other Open Source projects? Or other competitors, for that matter...

      There is WAY too much power in hands of corporations right now. At least "big government" still nominally has the power to regulate these behemoths, even if they are paid to not use it.

  • by dogsbreath (730413) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:10PM (#34646398)

    What does this really mean? On the face of it no one should really object to Mastercard / Visa / etc denying service to criminal enterprises or criminal activities. This is to be expected both in terms of business ethics and legal liability.

    So the question is: who determines which enterprise is criminal / violating copyrights and what are the criteria and what is the process to have someone cut off? What is the appeal process?

    From TFA:
    "This move by MasterCard is just another in a recent long line of corporations and organizations that are taking it upon themselves to define the legality of situations rather than leaving it to the courts. One problem is that the US federal government is allowing the lobbyists for these organizations to dictate right and wrong. The RIAA and MPAA were the big influence behind the government’s seizure of several domains during the last week of November. "

    Worst case, this is a monetary blacklist controlled by the RIAA (eg: RIAA sends unsubstantiated note to Mastercard listing "offenders". Mastercard moves immediately to deny service.) Very nice club for the RIAA to hold.

  • http://www.slsknet.org/donate.php [slsknet.org] that are made with MC will not be honored?

  • by Chucky_M (1708842) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:13PM (#34646458)
    If the WikiLeaks "dirty" fightback taught the world anything then it was that the USA has too much control over critical worldwide infrastructure both technical and practical (Internet and Money) and it has shown that it cannot be trusted to control either. For reasons of their own most nations have been going along with the current world order as it was never openly abused and this allowed tacit approval, but as pressure grows from China, India and an emerging EU/Russia along with growing understanding from the people in these nations the world has in fact already irreparably changed. These sorts of activities will only hasten that change of power much to the detriment of the existing regimes. As the Chinese (and Mr Pratchett) say "May you live in Interesting times", it is a curse for a reason and these are interesting times.
  • I wonder how many thousands of snipped-up credit cards (along with a final payment, if necessary)it would take to persuade MasterCard that they are being stupid. I wish I could say I used them so I could be one of them.

  • While there's boatloads of free legal porn out there, some people still feel the need to pay for it. I assume that the same goes for the illegal stuff, you can get freebies if you look hard enough and some of the people producing it are amateurs but others are expecting to get paid. Certainly the FBI mail order stings we've heard about in the papers involved people sending payment in some fashion or another to obtain their illegal porn with kids or whatever. How did they do it then? How do they do it online

  • Isn't it illegal for MasterCard to knowingly take part in illegal transactions anyway?

    This is hardly "internet police", this is common sense.

    Anyway, if MasterCard is so bad you can go to the other vendor. [wikimedia.org] Although when they both block something legal [businessweek.com], this can cause problems.

    What is needed here is that they either get in big trouble for taking part in illegal transactions even if they don't know, or they have to agree to some "common carrier" like status in which they are not allowed to discriminate against

    • > What is needed here is that they either get in big trouble for taking part in illegal
      > transactions even if they don't know, or they have to agree to some "common carrier"
      > like status in which they are not allowed to discriminate against any transaction that is legal.

      This would involve the government actually doing their job and REGULATING. Neither political party will do that now... or they will do something like they did with net neutrality yesterday and only make it APPEAR like they doing re

  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:32PM (#34646726) Homepage

    If MasterCard and Visa does this for the MPAA, then anyone filing a lawsuit against any company will also name them as a Defendants so that there can be an order that will prevent MasterCard and Visa from processing payments until the Court is happy.

  • Applying this to pirate content is kind of lame, since payments aren't what drives that. BUT I've always thought the Visa+Mastercard collectively have always had the power to end 90% of all spam, and could do it in a matter of weeks.

    All it would take is:

    1) terms of service forbidding UCE for products.

    2) a few effectively placed honeypot/canary accounts

    3) a couple tiger teams to place orders for the products that get spammed, and

    4) kick the plug on the commercial accounts that

  • So I can't use a Mastercard to pay for Usenet service, then?
  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @05:46PM (#34646922) Homepage Journal

    So.. is this what the next 20 years is going to be like?

    Will it be that if you don't play by the corporation's rule they will put you on a black list and you won't even be able to live?

    Because that's the direction it looks like it is heading right now. Maybe we're already there as important as the credit reporting agencies already are...

  • by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @06:33PM (#34647390)

    If a cc company doesn't like your product, for whatever reason, they'll institute policies banning you and everyone else in your business. Is it legal to buy marijuana in your location? It doesn't matter if you live in one of the many places where it is, cc companies won't knowingly give those merchants accounts. Want to buy pictures of "child models"? Those sites can't get cc companies to work with them simply because their product is icky (not illegal in most countries, just really icky).

    Sell something, do something, say something that the cc companies think will make them look bad and they'll cut you off. This is a surprise?

    What's surprising to me is that the cc companies have decided that "pirate" sites (or however they define this subset of customers that they're going to cut off) are a sufficiently serious source of bad press that it's worthwhile to cut them off. More people every day are becoming more educated about media distribution, how evil some of the companies involved are, and how not-necessarily-immoral is the whole notion of downloading media. They might derive some public-image profit in the short term among the uneducated but I have to believe that in the long term most of their customers are going to understand this was a really dumb move.

  • by superdave80 (1226592) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @06:42PM (#34647468)
    What's in it for Mastercard? What do they gain by denying these transactions?
  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @09:16AM (#34651248) Homepage Journal

    So, let me get this straight... Mastercard won't let you buy a T-Shirt from Pirate Bay because they are evil haxors, but, I can still use my card to donate hundreds to the Klu Klux Klan? What does that say about Mastercard, or the rest of America for that matter?

    How is it that the KKK didn't get branded a terrorist organization right after 9/11 anyhow? Why is it that we support/tolerate homegrown terrorism, such as white supremacy, as long as those guys aren't muslim?

    What a fucked up country the USA is.

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