Three false copyright accusations and we'll cut off your Internet access

My latest Guardian column is up: "Warning to copyright enforcers: Three strikes and you're out" argues that if the entertainment industry wants the right to disconnect accused infringers after three accusations, then they should be prepared to have their corporate Internet access terminated if they make three false accusations. Thanks to Kevin Marks for the idea!
The internet is only that wire that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press in a single connection. It's only vital to the livelihood, social lives, health, civic engagement, education and leisure of hundreds of millions of people (and growing every day).

This trivial bit of kit is so unimportant that it's only natural that we equip the companies that brought us Police Academy 11, Windows Vista, Milli Vanilli and Celebrity Dancing With the Stars with wire-cutters that allow them to disconnect anyone in the country on their own say-so, without proving a solitary act of wrongdoing.

But if that magic wire is indeed so trivial, they won't mind if we hold them to the same standard, right?



  1. Fantastic idea.
    If they’re not on board with it then I have a more “project mayhem” type idea, along the same lines, that would work for sure.

    Keep up the good work folks.

  2. No need to even go that far, Cory. Given that various recording companies have often been accused of copyright infringement (sampling, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, etc.), I figure that their proposed laws are as likely to bite a record company as they are to bite a consumer.

  3. #4’s suggestion reminds me of all the talk about patent holdings being used for MAD by computer companies against other companies with strategic patents. I wonder if we can draw up a strategic “portfolio” of copyrights…?

    A quick boo at Isohunt turns up five copies of GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars, of which I’m a co-author. Another search turns up a copy of GT: Sword Worlds, same deal.

    If anyone can figure out a way to turn that into a strategic complaint against a large media corporation if/when this law is passed, I’m in!

    I’m serious…a quick google will turn up contact into for me, and I’ll do it if the plan seems at all worthy.

    Any other copyright holders care to chip in?

  4. If it were to go through, just accuse the corporations of copyright infringement.

    Heck, if they were to make it retroactive, I think most of the companies are already screwed.

  5. Cut off internet access for corporations? Interesting, but why create new punishments when the existing ones have never been enforced? The DMCA actually envisioned something harsher: Infringement complaints are required to be signed under penalty of perjury. Perjury carries a five year prison term and a fine. So the next time you get the ear of McCain or Obama, ask them whether they will instruct their Justice Department to enforce perjury law evenhandedly, even if it means putting some of Viacom’s lawyers in prison.

  6. I think horrifically cute legislative ideas like this are borne of the minds of those who still have their assistants print out all their e-mail, get most of their web research done by assistants, and manage most transactions and purchases through assistants.

    To them, the internet is removed by a layer. They interact with humans who interact with the outside world on their behalf. To these who rarely interact with the internet personally, the internet is as important as cable TV, an extra, a throwaway, something for idle entertainment rather than a critical utility.

    Although come to think of it, I’d imagine they’d be just as fine with cutting off the water and electricity from accused copyright violators, too.

  7. This is a great idea, but why stop there ? I mean, isn’t making false claims about someone being a criminal an offense ?
    I say that, for every unbacked claim of “piracy”, they should be tried and condemned for slander. THAT’d show’em !

  8. I remember someone (it may have been Hamilton Jordan) that “if a hundred businesses do it, it’s legal”

  9. Here’s another “counter-strike” that can rack up even more “strikes” against these “I own your ass!” Master of the Universe thugs.

    Why not start a “wiki” blog of all the “intellectual property” infringements perpetrated by the movie and music industries, where all violations listed can only be removed with legal proof of payment for the right to profit from the “intellectual property” thereof from the owner/creator of said item? Given all the things that can now have inherent “intellectual property” rights, the blog should be explosive to say the least, especially for the movie industry.

    Music lovers can report all the sampling “violations” that musicians perpetrate, even just reference, and profit by, without ever paying the initial artist. The blog can track how original and/or derivative artists really are.

    And how many movies use brand name clothing for their actors without appropriate acknowledgment or payment to the creators? And given the recent ruling against Ebay, are all the clothes they use legit or ripoffs? Or does the movie industry support fashion piracy?

    Do movies pay rights fees to manufacturers and designers for the use of furniture and household goods and appliances? Aren’t props and furniture rental houses infringing on copyright by not paying royalty fees on their rental profits? Don’t car manufacturers have “intellectual property” rights on cars that appear in movies? Don’t cities own “intellectual property” rights on their existence – i.e. aren’t cities pretending to be NYC violating the “intellectual property” behind the idea of NYC?

    Given how many “artists” are involved in making movies, are producers and studios paying them all appropriately for their “intellectual property” rights, or just the select acting, writing, and directing community, i.e. the only “real” artists in movies. Do production and costume designers hold “intellectual property” rights? What about sound designers, animators, and SPFX artists?

    Movies also have set sales after production to help re-coup their costs. If consumers are wrong to re-distribute what they own, aren’t movies that re-sell their goods equally in violation? Or is recouping costs a valid excuse for unlawful re-distribution?

    When filmmakers quote other artists like Scorsese did recently with Hitchcock, is it really just an “homage”, or are they in fact “pirating” Hitchcock’s “intellectual property” for profit?

    The blog can rank violators by the number of violations posted, listed by artist, producer, and studio. It could serve as a guidepost for manufacturers and other artists to sue music and movie studios for “intellectual property” rights violations, as well as for fans and consumers of which studios and artists are the biggest phonies when it comes to “piracy” moral superiority.

    It’s high time netizens began exposing all the wanton “sharing” and “piracy” perpetrated by the music and movie industry to reap their profits. The “intellectual property” rights boomerang has yet to be played for all it’s worth.

  10. Btw, proof of violation should not required to assert guilt of infringement on the wiki-blog of music and movie industry violations.

  11. In the past year or two I’ve received (as a network manager) over THREE HUNDRED of those damned DMCA takedown notices, and NOT ONE of them has been for an address that’s actually in use. They’re all invalid: all were for unrouted, unavailable addresses. No response from the sending organization, of course.

    Do these folks get paid piecework for the count of violation notices issued?

  12. I know some internet trolls that operate this way too, particularly when people post information exposing their activities.

  13. #9: “Isn’t making false claims about someone being a criminal an offense? I say that, for every unbacked claim of “piracy”, they should be tried and condemned for slander. THAT’d show’em!”

    Or attempting to pervert the course of justice. Or wasting police time.

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