LibDem Lords seek to ban web-lockers (YouSendIt, etc) in the UK

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37 Responses to “LibDem Lords seek to ban web-lockers (YouSendIt, etc) in the UK”

  1. Anonymous says:

    On the subject of privacy, you might be interested to know that there are search sites devoted to trawling through stuff uploaded to lockers, and they’re perfectly good at it. This wouldn’t scare me from using it for personal files, but it’s a good idea to keep track of the deletion url.

  2. blendergasket says:

    In the company I work for we use YouSendIt very frequently for sending large files to people. We deal with customers’ art files and frequently they become extremely large. We can’t email them, they clog up our servers if we send them through our website, and we are unwilling to open our FTP servers up for security reasons. This leaves YouSendIt. We are a US company but have been steadily increasing our UK customer base over the last couple years. This would make serving UK users much more difficult for us.

    Getting rid of a whole system is NOT the way to deal with people doing things on that system that you perceive as bad/illegal. It is sad that the government is funded by a corrupt, aging elite who have gotten their money through an aging, ineffectual business model that relies on artificial manufacture of scarcity to survive in a world of limitless replicability.

  3. Anonymous says:

    And such blocking will never work. Someone could easily circumvent that with an offshore VPN. And with many other foreign nations, particular the USA, requiring some businesses to use VPN for secure remote access to their networks, Britain would be cutting off their nose to spite their face if they banned or restricted VPN

  4. Summer Seale says:

    I think it’s a GREAT idea to ban web lockers!

    And, while we’re at it, we should also firewall the entire internet in our countries so that nobody can access porn sites. Also, democracy and speech rights forums are a serious threat – we should take care of those as well.

    In fact, I think that The Dear Leader would love us not to actually use the internet at all without his approval because, you see, our time belongs to him and the collective. There is no Id except for specially approved party members. So, let’s ban computers as well, except for those in the inner Core group.

    In fact, I think that the FIRST people who should give up all of these fabricated and anti-group rights should be the lords themselves. Let them show the way and the path to true happiness for the collective.

    • howaboutthisdangit says:

      Using ideas such as yours, we can help the Internet evolve into its ultimate form – a delivery system for paid streaming media. Brilliant!

  5. cymk says:

    Cory, I think your LibDem Lords are misguided; banning web locker services like rapidshare or yousendit only treats the symptom, not the cause. To truly treat the cause you have to ban the internet, nay electricity!

    And here I thought American politicians were dumb. Perhaps politicians are competing in some sort of international facepalm competition, all vying for the title of “most facepalms caused.” This can be the only logical explanation for such silliness in politics around the world.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think you’ve missed one of the major problems, Cory.

    To whit:

    “the Court shall order the service provider to pay the copyright owner’s costs”

    This is notify-and-takedown. No ISP is going to take the chance that content can lead it to bearing the cost of an expensive lawsuit, they’ll simply comply with each and every written notification they get.

    And unlike the DMCA, there isn’t even the theoretical possibility of copyright holders being taken to task for doing it in deliberate bad faith!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Just sent this to my local Lib Dem MP.

    Hope this helps.

    Dear Simon Hughes,

    These are not my words but I believe strongly in everything written (credit Cory Doctorow of the Boing Boing website). I would have hoped that the Liberal Party (who I have voted for in Bermondsey continuously) see the error of certain aspects of the Digital Economy Bill before its to late.

    Regarding the attempt to ban web-lockers:

    1. Web-lockers are useful for more than piracy. I routinely use web-lockers for my own business and personal affairs. When I need to send a large video of my daughter playing to my parents, a web-locker is the simplest way of doing this. Web-lockers are also a vital part of how I produce my audiobooks and podcasts, since they allow me to privately share large pre-release audio-files with readers, editors and publishers. Web-lockers are also how I communicate with my attorneys and accountants for transmission of sensitive documents, such as scans of my passport and bills.

    2. The reason web-lockers are useful for piracy is because they support privacy. The entertainment industry’s principle objection to web-lockers is that their contents are private, and cannot be readily survielled by copyright enforcement tools. When I send a video of my daughter in the bath to her grandparents, the only people who can download that video are the people who have access to the private URL for the locker. This is the same mechanism that infringers use to avoid detection: upload an infringing file and share the URL with friends. You can’t fix the web-locker problem without attacking the right of Internet users to privately share large files with one another.

    3. The establishment of a national blocklist is itself a bad idea. Creating a facility whereby ISPs can be compelled to block entire websites is a bad idea on its face. The security problems raised by such a facility are grave (a hijacker could use it to block the BBC, or Parliament, or Google), and the temptation to extend this facility for use in other civil actions, (say, libel) will be great. Also, as my friend Lilian Edwards has pointed out, the LibDem proposal does not stipulate how long sites must be blocked for, nor what the procedure is for unblocking them.

    4. There is no evidence that this will work. Dedicated infringers have shown a willingness and capability to use technologies such as proxies to evade firewalls. These proxies — many of them legitimate businesses at home and abroad — are cheap and easy to use, and make it trivial to evade ISP-level filtering. However, “good guys” (small traders, individuals wishing to share private material with friends and family) should not have to bear the expense and difficulty of evading the Great Firewall of Britain to do legitimate business on the net.

    5. This is bad for the nation. The only country to enact anti-web-locker legislation to date is South Korea, which brought in a similar measure to the LibDem proposal as a condition of its Free Trade Agreement with the USA, whose IP chapter focused largely on locking down the Korean Internet. In the time since the US-Korea FTA, Korea has slipped badly in the global league tables for ICT competitiveness, going from being a worldwide leader in technology to an also-ran.

    All excellent points.

    As for open Wi-Fi points to be deemed illegal and owners of said points to be held accountable for others possible infringement, being a small business dont get me started there, outrageous. This is all about big interests over everyday people.

    As a footnote I found this rather poignant to.

    According to a post on LibDem Voice, Clement-Jones draws a salary of £70,000 to serve as Co-Chairman of law firm DLA Piper’s global government relations practice. DLA Piper is “one of the largest groups of IP lawyers in the world” and has “acted for, and lobbied on behalf of, the RIAA and MPAA in the past.”

    Conflict of interest?

    Yours sincerely,

    Patrick Spring

  8. Anonymous says:

    Maybe Heather Brooke might be willing to take this on as her next major cause?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heather_Brooke

  9. silly bobs says:

    jesus, what kind of luddites are in the lords? did the libdems get a go on geffens boat last weekend or something?

    As someone who works in video im forever using rapidshare/whatever for sending big files, i got an ftp but most of the people im sending 2 cant be arsed/ dont know how to use it, so clicking on a link is easy cheesy.

    This is turning into a wholesale assault on privacy on the internet.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What’s the deal with the South Korean internet filtration? They had to censor certain websites so they could get a trade agreement with the US?

  11. cyberdoyle says:

    The whole debill is totally ridiculous. It just shows how little information parliament has, or understands. They are there to serve the country and the people, not an obsolete business model. The Dark Lord is determined to break the internet. Hopefully sites like this will inform and educate. Keep at IT.

  12. Stooge says:

    @silly bobs, just in case you didn’t know, links to files on ftp work on most browsers if in the format ftp://username:password@ftpsite/file

    • silly bobs says:

      thanks for that stooge, have used that a few times in the past but clients still dont seem to like it/understand it.
      the ftp bit freaks them out.

      • Sin Trenton says:

        Precisely my experience as well, silly bobs. Sometimes even omitting the www somewhere spooks them.

  13. Camp Freddie says:

    I can see why a Lord made this ammendment, but it implies an insane amount of naivity.

    Rapidshare already remove infringing content when notified.
    It makes no difference. In a few minutes, the content will be re-uploaded to a new Rapidshare URL and the illegal-content-sharing-guy will update the links on his blog to point to the new URL.

    Also, since most Rapidshare files are password-protected .rars, there’s no way for Rapidshare to tell if they contain illegal content. Lastly, it is trivial to alter a .rar by changing the readme before re-uploading, so a blacklist of ‘illegal files’ wouldn’t work.

    All this amendment will do is cause unintended consequences as skilled lawyers start arguing that a Library’s computer network or whatever replaced Geocities is a web-locker or some such stupidity.

    And I was going to vote Liberal too. I guess I’ll have to just spoil my ballot now. Does anyone have instructions on how to make my ballot paper into an origami Von Neuman machine?

  14. silly bobs says:

    from the lib demvoice post

    “…ooh, and surprise surprise, according to their website. Clement-Jones’ employers, DLA Piper, have:

    “one of the largest groups of IP lawyers in the world… When disputes arise, your commercial objectives are our main concern… Our IP experience includes IP litigation as well as representation in areas such as applications, prosecution, and filings for patents, trademarks, and copyrights… The ability to advise on all aspects of technology law expands the efficiencies and breadth of service for our clients – we offer advice on all related IP matters such as advertising and promotion law, data security, digital media content, e-commerce/Internet transactions, and privacy protection. We also help develop compliance programs in response to new corporate policies or national and local government regulations, including IP, privacy, or quality control audits.

    Wherever you are, and whatever your industry, you need people you can trust to meet your IP business objectives…

    Absolutely clear cut conflict of interest here. This is just so unbelievably blatant.”

  15. Anonymous says:

    if your in the UK and commenting here your doing it wrong. write a short letter to the people involved and sent it via WriteToThem. dont cut n paste make it individual.

    There is very little chance that anyone in the lords/commons will see anything here but if they recieve 50-100 diffrent letters wanting the same thing it sends a message (sure they might ignore it but its more useful than raging on a forum/blog/comment page).

    While your at it write to your local MP through the same service. stuff like this goes through because we moan online, with an election around the corner and looking close they will be clamouring for votes.

  16. remmelt says:

    Also, one of the web lockers is Google (http://docs.google.com/DocAction?action=updoc&hl=en). Google is opposing the Australian government at the moment (though not the Chinese), it’s interesting to see how this will play out. If the USA ratifies the ACTA and it is as bad as it seems, what will Google do? Move to a data haven? Oppose the US government? Implode?

    What Would Google Do?

  17. TheStateOfMe says:

    So when Amazon S3 gets blocked the I lose my CRM data from Capsule, my projects in Basecamp etc. etc.

    Way to destroy SaaS!

  18. Francesco Fondi says:

    UK 20 years ago was probably the richest country in EU and without IDs for citizens: now the country turned into a Big Brother Wonderland and the only real industry is entertainment…

    Can a country live on pop music?!

  19. kitsch says:

    I’ve never actually been quite so annoyed to write a whole letter to an MP, but this has got me *really* mad. Cory – you’ve got one more for the cause, and a couple of emails to the Lords in question.

    It’s like telling mobile phone companies that they’re now responsible for making sure people don’t talk about anything illegal on their networks – totally unenforceable (to the extent they seem to be suggesting) It also won’t work! It’s like the past 30 years of ongoing music piracy hasn’t happened, the DMCA was just a minor thing, and they’re hoping they can nip piracy in the bud before it really takes off. Arrgh.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I disagree with every aspect of this proposed law, but I have to point out that we *already* have a national blocklist, which is currently unregulated – the IWF.

    Sure, we can all agree that stopping child porn is a Good Thing, but (a) there must be better ways to tackle it than blocking entire sites; and (b) who watches the watchers?

  21. Anonymous says:

    So, if one uses Opera Unite to share movies, they’ll lock out Opera Unite too? Or will they come gunning for the individual?

    Thank God, I’m in India. So far- apart from some disputes over the IT Amendment Act-(which is a pussycat compared to the Cyber laws of ‘free’ America or UK) techies are having a free run here. We are the second fastest growing economy, yet we are not restrictive like the Chinese.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Going to have to back manicbassman up on the child protection laws thing here in the UK. If you’re sending files of your daughter in the bath you have a lot more to worry about than rapidshare being taken away from you. Despite sensible opinions and common sense, you are likely to find yourself in a whole heap of trouble with the law if caught distributing, let alone just owning, videos of this type.

  23. lasttide says:

    Wasn’t this supposed to PROTECT the digital economy? Web-lockers are constantly used by musicians to send uncompressed studio files around so they can be worked on, mixed and mastered.

    The alternative is that everyone has to set up their own ftp server, and that’s just dumb (and I’m sure once they’re done with web-lockers they’ll hit ftp servers and IRC file bots).

  24. Anonymous says:

    Unless I’ve misunderstood, this is similar to banning banks transfers, because criminals use bank transfers to transfer stolen money.

    Uttery ridiculous,
    Concerned from Cambridge.

  25. ADavies says:

    I use YouSend it to pass around business files all the time. It’s a huge convenience.

  26. MsJaye says:

    Remember: every time the government and media types push a little harder about this sort of thing, they’re pushing the world a bit closer to broad use of something like FreeNet. We can’t get there soon enough, IMHO.

  27. Brother Phil says:

    On the other hand, they have blocked the statutory instrument which would have allowed the Copyright Czar to make up his own laws.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8549112.stm

  28. steeroy says:

    Out of interest, are there any politicians who think IP holders need fewer rights, not more? Or is that just something some of us geeks believe?

  29. Psymiley says:

    The British govs answer to Islamic ‘cutting off your hands’ policy.

    On the other side of the coin:

    Pre-Internet: piracy & pornography of any description was done via the post or in person.
    Pre-broadband: piracy & pornography of any description was still done via the post or in person.
    Current day: piracy & pornography of any description can still be done via the post or in person.

    The only inconvenience to pirates and perverts is they have to wait a day or 2 for the stuff to arrive. If particularly icky stuff on disk and with decent encryption, there’s probably LESS chance of being found out, even if posty opens it!

    If you look at the system with squinted eyes, you can just make out the idea the gov has:
    Choke everything… If it survives – it’s a weed! Kill it . Job done.

  30. lomlate says:

    I hate to be the devil’s advocate. I do not support this law. However to say they’re banning web lockers is not exactly true. It will only ban web lockers who refuse to respond to take down requests for illegal content. If this law comes into effect, Everyone in the UK will still be able to use many web locker companies. This renders point 1 moot.

    Point 2 is wrong because nothing in the bill requires copyright monitoring software be used. The act only comes into force where “copyright owners … had also requested the site operator to stop providing access to the infringing material.” You talk about ‘escaping detection’ but this isn’t an issue because if you escape detection you can’t be told to take down the material. The only way this legislation can be used is a situation where a google search leads to a copyrighted movie and then a take down notice is ignored. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that when you receive a legitimate take down notice you action it.

    Point 5 uses a classic correlation=causation with regard to south Korea. I need stronger evidence and I think most BB users should demand it too.

    Point 4 assumes the aim of the legislation is to stop copyright infringement. It is not. The law would be designed to reduce copyright infringement. No law can stop the crime it is trying to stop. You could argue “why have a law for murder because people will still murder people anyway?” Well, yes, but hopefully the law will reduce the instance of murder, or make it harder to get away with. If you have to be “determined” (your words, not mine) to infringe copyright then for 95% of users the copyright cops have won. I have lots of friends who used kazaa but BT is “too complicated” so they just buy their music as anecdotal evidence supporting this theory.

    The only other argument I can think of is that this will increase the costs for legitimate web-lockers to process take down requests. However I don’t think that is any different to the work legitimate web-lockers should already be doing at the moment, as required by the law.

    That leaves points 3, which I can’t fault. And really, that’s the only argument that should have been put forward. It’s convincing enough for me.

  31. manicbassman says:

    you send videos of your daughter in the bath??? don’t you know that that’s tantamount to kiddie porn!?!?!? well, the daily fail would have it so… and there’s quite a long list of people who’ve fallen foul of over zealous photo processors in the old days of handing in the film to be processed at Boots… “just doing a quality check… ooer… don’t like this… looks like kiddie porn, better get the Police in here to arrest them when they collect it”…

  32. Psymiley says:

    To use lomlate’s point 4 out-of-context:

    Murder is illegal (piracy is illegal).
    Murder via any means is common (piracy via any means is common).
    Murder via guns is an issue (piracy via filesharing is an issue).
    Ban guns, regulate special cases (Ban filesharing, regulate special cases).
    Murder continues, sans guns. (piracy continues, sans filesharing).

    Where having a law to prevent guns is there to reduce gun related murder – it does not mean that murder will decrease.
    Anyone can still kill others with car/van/knife/pencil, as per anyone can pirate.

    Only now those who needed legit use are bound in red tape, where those who had other methods before, will continue as such.

    You can replace ‘piracy’ with ‘drugs’ and ‘filesharing’ with ‘forrin’ mules’ or
    ‘piracy’->’h/c pr0n’ and ‘filesharing’->’s/c pr0n’.
    You wait – even ‘piracy’->’extremist religion’ and ‘filesharing’->’peaceful religion’ is on the cards!

    It’s a little fill-in-the-blanks form they have – and I think I just leaked it!

  33. Anonymous says:

    It’s like dropping one bad idea for another. The drama continues…
    I know it sounds bad to say it but maybe they should just leave the internet be. People who do not have a basic understanding of how the internet works should not be entitled to legislate anything regarding it.

    In truth this idea of site blocking is even worse, censorship is arguably the reason why a lot of people like the internet more than TV simply because they get to decide what they can or cannot see. I would say that is a “right” in all aspects of the meaning. A mature and intelligent person is fully capable of deciding whether he can see something or not, so long as certain warnings are in place to tell the viewer how bad the content might be. (and as long as no-one is getting hurt by said content) With this kind of regulation it will give rise to internet watchdogs similar to that for TV channels which will only serve to ruin a browsers experience.

    I can see this blocking idea being abused also so I totally agree with point 3.
    Competing sites can use this as a means to lower traffic to each other and so on.

    The argument we should be debating is should we really be regulating the only thing that can be called a direct and honest representation of humanity?

    I kind of feel like a hippy saying that….

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