Submit brief to govt “anti-piracy czar” Victoria A. Espinel bemoaning industry losses, and outlining a plan to crackdown on online copyright infringement. Among the proposals are website filtering, search engine keyword blocking, a crackdown on domain name registrars and proxy services, monitoring of social networks for promotion of infringing websites, bandwidth throttling, and “consumer tools” installed on home PCs that detect and delete illegally obtained copyrighted material.
Despite the Government Accountability Office already questioning the entertainment industry’s piracy claims, it submitted a brief to the govt’s new Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Victoria A. Espinel, bemoaning the industry’s losses and outlining a plan to tackle the problem.
Dubbed the “anti-piracy czar,” Espinel’s post was created towards the end of 2008 as part of the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act (PRO-IP Act) which increased penalties for intellectual-property infringement, and provided the Justice Department with more resources to coordinate federal and state efforts against counterfeiting and piracy.
She requested comments on the forthcoming “Joint Strategic Plan” for intellectual property enforcement and a group of copyright holders that includes both the MPAA and RIAA were all too happy to oblige.
Its outline for tackling the problem is truly frightening, and includes all of the very worst possible solutions. Among the proposals are website filtering, search engine keyword blocking, a crackdown on domain name registrars and proxy services, monitoring of social networks for promotion of infringing websites, bandwidth throttling, and “consumer tools” installed on home PCs that detect and delete illegally obtained copyrighted material.
It’s hard to think of a list of options that could do worse damage to the Internet than this.
Search engine filtering sounds eerily reminiscent of China and its much publicized filtering of the Internet to stifle political dissent.
From the brief:
Search engines: Popular web search engines are often the primary resource for Internet users to locate links, websites and software that allow users to download and view illegal content. In most cases, typing the name of a movie title with generic
qualifiers such as “watch online free” will return numerous web search results for links and resources to illegally download and view that title.
The entertainment industry apparently wants the likes of Google and Yahoo to somehow rid search results of any keywords that would aid and abet the practice of downloading or streaming copyrighted material without their permission. Good luck with that one.
Also of concern is its desire to monitor social networks for any discussion of infringing websites or links to infringing content.
Social Networking: Social networks are increasingly being used by the operators of infringing websites to promote illegal websites, communicate with large “fan” bases and spam links to infringing content. Social networks are now important tools in the promotion and optimization of illegal websites.
So coming soon to Facebook and MySpace pages everywhere may very well be govt agents on the lookout for illegal file-sharers and links to file-sharing sites.
The last one, the use of “consumer tools,” as though they’re being helped by allowing businesses to scan and monitor their PCs for signs of acquiring content that hasn’t been paid for, is probably the most galling of all.
There are several technologies and methods that can be used by network administrators and providers, including many that are already used for spam and virus protection.
- Consumer tools for managing copyright infringement from the home (based on tools used to protect consumers from viruses and malware).
I can’t imagine any person in their right mind would install this on their PC, but if packaged properly – as perhaps a “malware” removal and protection program – some may just fall for it.
Moreover, as usual the entertainment industry likes to focus on solutions that ignore the real problem – it’s lack of concern for what consumers really want. The solution to piracy always has and always will be providing consumers what they want, where they want it, and all at a reasonable price. It’s Business 101.
“These tools, it must be emphasized, are critical, but they are means to an end,” reads the briefs closing remarks. “That end is a dynamic, content-rich, readily accessible, and hassle-free marketplace that excites and engages
consumers, while it also compensates those who, for almost a century, have made it possible for American movies, music and other media to entertain and educate audiences around the world.”
With DRM like the Content Scramble System (CSS) on DVDs, copyright holders have gone out of their way to hassle consumers crazy enough to think they actually owned a product after purchasing it, even warning them that making one backup copy of a DVD is illegal.
In the end the entertainment industry is playing a dangerous game against technology and consumers where everyone loses.