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Internet Police: G8 Ratifies Crackdown on Illegal Downloads

Internet Police State: G8 Ratifies Crackdown on Illegal Downloads

Charles Arthur
London Guardian
July 10, 2008

The heads of the G8 governments, meeting this week, are about to ratify the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which – it’s claimed – could let customs agents search your laptop or music player for illegally obtained content. The European Parliament is considering a law that would lead to people who illicitly download copyrighted music or video content being thrown off the internet. Virgin Media is writing to hundreds of its customers at the request of the UK record industry to warn them that their connections seem to have been used for illegal downloading. Viacom gets access to all of the usernames and IP addresses of anyone who has ever used YouTube as part of its billion-dollar lawsuit in which it claims the site has been party to “massive intentional copyright infringement”.

It seems that 20th-century ideas of ownership and control – especially of intellectual property such as copyright and trademarks – are being reasserted, with added legal muscle, after a 10-year period when the internet sparked an explosion of business models and (if we’re honest) casual disregard, especially of copyright, when it came to music and video.

But do those separate events mark a swing of the pendulum back against the inroads that the internet has made on intellectual property?

‘A finger in the dyke’

Saul Klein, a venture capitalist with Index Ventures who has invested in the free database company MySQL, Zend (the basis of the free web-scripting language PHP) and OpenX, an open-source advertising system, is unconvinced. “In a world of abundance – which the internet is quintessentially – that drives the price of everything towards ‘free’,” he says. “People don’t pay for any content online. Not for music, not for video. They get it, either legally or illegally.”

Is that sustainable? “The model of suing your best customers and subpoenaing private information is doomed to failure,” Klein observes. “It’s putting a finger in the dyke. It won’t change the macro trend, which is that there’s an abundance of information. Copyright owners need to find new ways to generate income from their product. The fact is, the music industry is in rude health – more people than ever before are going to concerts, making it, listening to it. It’s the labels that are screwed. The artists and managers are making money. The labels aren’t.

Read Full Article Here

Europe votes on anti-piracy laws

BBC
July 7, 2008

Europeans suspected of putting movies and music on file-sharing networks could be thrown off the web under proposals before Brussels.

The powers are in a raft of laws that aim to harmonise the regulations governing Europe’s telecom markets.

Other amendments added to the packet of laws allow governments to decide which software can be used on the web.

Campaigners say the laws trample on personal privacy and turn net suppliers into copyright enforcers.

Piracy plan

MEPs are due to vote on the so-called Telecom Packet on 7 July. The core proposals in the packet were drawn up to help European telecoms firms cope with the rapid pace of change in the industry.

Technological and industry changes that did not respect borders had highlighted the limitations of Europe’s current approach which sees national governments oversee their telecoms markets.

“The current fragmentation hinders investment and is detrimental to consumers and operators,” says the EU document laying out the proposals.

But, say digital rights campaigners, anti-piracy lobbyists have hijacked the telecoms laws and tabled amendments that turn dry proposals on industry reform into an assault on the freedom of net users.

Among the amendments are calls to enact a Europe-wide “three strikes” law. This would see users banned from the web if they fail to heed three warnings that they are suspected of putting copyrighted works on file-sharing networks.

In addition it bestows powers on governments to decide which programs can be “lawfully” used on the internet.

A coalition of European digital rights groups have banded together to galvanise opposition.

“[The amendments] pave the way for the monitoring and filtering of the internet by private companies, exceptional courts and Orwellian technical measures,” said Christophe Espern, co-founder of French rights group La Quadrature du Net (Squaring the Net) in a statement.

The UK’s Open Rights Group said the laws would be “disproportionate and ineffective”.

The Foundation for a Free Internet Infrastructure (FFII) warned that if the amendments were accepted they would create a “Soviet internet” on which only software and services approved by governments would be allowed to run.

“Tomorrow, popular software applications like Skype or even Firefox might be declared illegal in Europe if they are not certified by an administrative authority,” warned Benjamin Henrion, FFII representative in Brussels, in a statement.

“This is compromising the whole open development of the internet as we know it today,” he said.

Read Full Article Here

U.S. Homeland Security Defends Laptop Searches At Border

Christian Science Monitor
July 11, 2008

Is a laptop searchable in the same way as a piece of luggage? The Department of Homeland Security believes it is.

For the past 18 months, immigration officials at border entries have been searching and seizing some citizens’ laptops, cellphones, and BlackBerry devices when they return from international trips.

In some cases, the officers go through the files while the traveler is standing there. In others, they take the device for several hours and download the hard drive’s content. After that, it’s unclear what happens to the data.

The Department of Homeland Security contends these searches and seizures of electronic files are vital to detecting terrorists and child pornographers. It also says it has the constitutional authority to do them without a warrant or probable cause.

But many people in the business community disagree, saying DHS is overstepping the Fourth Amendment bounds of permissible routine searches. Some are fighting for Congress to put limits on what can be searched and seized and what happens to the information that’s taken. The civil rights community says the laptop seizures are simply unconstitutional. They want DHS to stop the practice unless there’s at least reasonable suspicion.

Legal scholars say the issue raises the compelling and sometimes clashing interests of privacy rights and the need to protect the US from terrorists and child pornographers. The courts have long held that routine searches at the border are permissible, simply because they take place at the border. Opponents of the current policy say a laptop search is far from “routine.”

“A laptop can hold [the equivalent of] a major university’s library: It can contain your full life,” says Peter Swire, a professor of law at Ohio State University in Columbus. “The government’s never gotten to search your entire life, so this is unprecedented in scale what the government can get.”

Read Full Article Here

Digital copyright: it’s all wrong. The ACTA draft is Scary.
http://www.smh.com.au/news/pe..06/09/1212863545123.html

FCC Chairman Seeks to End Comcast’s Delay of File Sharing
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w..08/07/11/AR2008071102917.html

They’re Watching Us: U.S. Army Contract for “Internet Awareness Services”
https://www.fbo.gov/index?tab..218cda1e&cck=1&au=&ck=

Google’s spycar revs up UK privacy fears
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/07/google_spycar_slammed/

Viacom to Violate YouTube User’s Privacy
http://noworldsystem.com/2008/07/10/..-user%e2%80%99s-privacy/

 


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