Big Content's dystopian wish-list for the US gov't: spyware, censorship, physical searches and SWAT teams

The MPAA and RIAA have submitted their master plan for enforcing copyright to the new Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Richard Esguerra points out, it's a startlingly distopian work of science fiction. The entertainment industry calls for: There's a technical term for this in policy circles. I believe it's "Totally insane."
There are several technologies and methods that can be used by network administrators and providers...these include [consumer] tools for managing copyright infringement from the home (based on tools used to protect consumers from viruses and malware).

In other words, the entertainment industry thinks consumers should voluntarily install software that constantly scans our computers and identifies (and perhaps deletes) files found to be "infringing." It's hard to believe the industry thinks savvy, security-conscious consumers would voluntarily do so. But those who remember the Sony BMG rootkit debacle know that the entertainment industry is all too willing to sacrifice consumers at the altar of copyright enforcement.

The Entertainment Industry's Dystopia of the Future

(Image: duopia, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from jonny2love's photostream)


  1. holy moly – do they want me to stop consuming all media because i won’t know what’s legal and what’s not and it’s too much of a hassle?

    do they want me to carry around receipts from the cds i buy to prove that i did purchase them?

    do i have to buy a cd player cos i can’t rip cds into my mp3 player?

    how anti-consumer is the future going to get?

  2. “Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement”?
    Since when?

    With a name like that, what do you expect?
    Easy availability (without “monitoring”) and indexing (free of advertising) of the past products of human intelligence, free for all who care to look? No?

    Why not a “Library of Congress” model for all net info? Free for all citizens to access?
    Instead of using tax dollars to restrict access ot info and knowledge….I guess somebody’s got to make a buck, eh?

  3. Ah well… They are becoming more and more desperate.

    The Government Accountability Office officially rejects the industries claims over the damage caused by filesharing because they have no basis in data or research.

    It’s sad, that it took so long for officials to realize what everyone else knew for years, but it’s something at least.

  4. two thoughts:

    1. welcome to cyberpunk, where the corporations have better enforcement abilities then nations.

    2. right back to before the industrial revolution, only that now the counts have become CEOs…

    btw, do anyone have any idea how this is actually going to be payed for? with the industries going more and more automated (see robonaut R2, but as a assembly line robot, recording the actions needed to take, and having 1-2 people on call to record new ones if the old do not match the current environment) and so less and less payed workers to spend cash on these products, how is the actual economy going to work? How many burger flippers can the world sustain?

  5. I have a hard enough time with iTunes. When I backed up my (authorized) library at work and took it home to my new iMac, having already authorized the computer, iTunes deleted over 200 legally purchased and owned songs. Couldn’t get them back either. Since I tend to purchase songs separately, this was over $200 that was stolen from me. Imagine what this would do. I shudder to think. There goes ALL third party development, straight out the window.

    1. I totally agree about iTunes! I regularly get my stuff deleted from Apple that I have legitimately purchased when going between just two computers I own…’s absolutely infuriating and they make no apologies about it. I am SO DONE purchasing any music from them!!

  6. Let’s detect and delete these money grubbing fascist scum instead…
    Let’s disrupt every one of these losers’ web presence through distributed denial of service attacks by installing our own version of “spyware” that lets us give them a little taste of “international bullying”. We are consumers of Borg – resistance is futile.
    Note to content sellers – don’t treat your audience as sheep they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
    Let’s enforce OUR copyright and refuse to answer questions of any reporter, photographer or researcher in the pay of these media maggots and make THEM pay for the public information they are often given gratis. Vote to enforce that media companies must pay a premium for access to public resources.
    Also, VOTE for your public rights and any attacks upon the public domain, commons or creative commons.

  7. *reads article*

    You see all that logic and appeal to reason and stuff. Waste. Of. Time. Certainly in the UK.

    The debate over the UKs digital economy bill showed that there are a handful of people in the UK Government who know anything about the details and implications – the rest of them are all “OMG!1!!!1! People are stealing stuff and stealing is wrong so lets implement any old crap that comes along that claims to fix that”

    Big Media might be insane from the point of view of anyone who understands the internet but for lawmakers who don’t this kind of stuff seems perfectly rational. Campaigning isn’t going to make much difference – we need to be getting people who actually understand the world they live in into the governing institutions.

  8. Wonder what they’d want Linux users to do – I don’t see too many Linux vendors being happy to ship spyware with their distros.

  9. heh, the quotes are “choice”.

    i see the words “encouraged” (is that a euphemism for being whipped into obedience) and “theft” (i increasingly think that the people writing this actually believe in them dealing with actual property ,and so by extension believe it to be actual theft, rather then just a scare word used to get attention) be used.

    its interesting that they also continually talk about companies, tho increasingly its individual civilians that gets targeted. Are all people one man companies now?

  10. Wow – I never thought I would hear an argument against copyright come directly from the MPAA and RIAA! Because what they have described is a police state, and if they are saying that nothing less than that is required if copyright is to be enforced, and that is the most eloquent argument against copyright I have ever heard.

    1. sad thing is that the US leadership, no matter what party, will probably buy the message (in more ways then one), as the only real export USA have left (except dollars for the oil trade) is entertainment content.

  11. The funny thing about this is it will never work. Thats the great thing about computers is that no matter what they do, we can and will find a way to circumvent it. So good luck big bad media gouls, give this a shot and see how long it takes to get the egg off your face.

  12. My favorite line from their brief is this one: “Unauthorized worldwide dissemination of full-length copyrighted works is clearly unlawful, under U.S. law and that of most other nations; yet it is pervasive online, and this abuse seriously harms the very content that is critical to enabling the Internet of the future to deliver its full benefits to the American consumer.”

    They think that copyrighted content is the main thing that is necessary to “enable the Internet of the future to deliver its full benefits to the American consumer”. As far as they are concerned, the whole point of the internet is for them to sell their stuff to you, and if the RIAA and MPAA companies go out of business, this will obviously make the internet useless.

    We might see the internet as a tool which can revolutionize things like social interaction, community building, government interaction with citizens, and other things, but to them, those things don’t involve “content” so they are irrelevant. Really, it abundantly clear that they don’t have a clue what the internet is now and what it’s used for currently, so obviously they aren’t going to understand its potential. Still, the whole thing is impressively myopic.

  13. “tools for managing copyright infringement from the home (based on tools used to protect consumers from viruses and malware).”

    My last computer game with some anti-virus software, McAffe or Norton, I think. First time I ran it, it deleted all my files containing the word “keygen”.. Ok so that’s a little blatant but it was the last time I used AV software.

  14. Well, there’s a simple answer to everything on their wishlist.


    If you feel strongly, you can add a “Not ever” to that.

  15. …just posting from the year 2153 through a time glitch in I fail to see why you seem to be aggravated by this demands. They are rather kind compared to the compulsory lobotomy you get in my time so you’re not able to think about … can’t spell it due to said lobotomy.

    Some criminals have successfully avoided the procedure. They are even able to think meta-thoughts about it, but their publications get censored before many people read them.

    I was one of them (though I was not able to understand all of it. Must be the lobotomy). I am now a searched criminal, too. From what I understood, it all started in your time and we now need you to stop it before it starts. Must end transmission and initiate getaway procedure.

    Bye, LX

  16. The people have spoken. They make clear what they want: near-DVD quality movies proximate to theatrical release.

    The studios’ lawyers choose to fight this, but the financially successful response is to embrace it — itunes proved that.

    The entertainment providers need to realise that their lawyers are their own worst enemy. Pursuing legal fees instead of licencing fees benefits only said lawyers.

  17. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want to see an existing example of people gleefully installing monitoring malware on their systems, look no further than Warcraft.

  18. I just got this in. They’ve upgrade the audible syntax lexicography on this behavior to ‘batshit crazy.’ Supposedly ‘totally insane’ has been relegated to the previously tepid problems of abstinence education, racial profiling and campaign finance.

  19. The content is dead. Long live the content!

    These content providers have officially lost all respect for their customers. From now on, if I can’t buy from the artist, I’ll just get it elsewhere.

  20. There’s another technical term for this kind of thing. It’s called a “police state”.

  21. Perhaps it would be useful for the major platforms to introduce easy to use GUI controlled sandboxes, so that you can make all programs execute as less privileged users and make sure they won’t write into certain directories, phone home or do other dastardly things you don’t know about.

    I’m not too sure about VMware or VirtualBox but I wonder if there could be backdoors introduced into my system through apps I download and I’m not even talking about illegal things.

    The story about someone losing $200 of music due to iTunes is so scary.

    I would feel better if they could be run in a separate space that cannot wipe out my home directory or media library. Fact is, you would have to register every single instance of “fair use” in order to escape the draconian logic that would be set to be embedded in all kinds of things.

    I actually was looking up the Mac OS X sandbox command.. not sure if that is right. Maybe running apps as other users, or running another instance of the OS in a VM would be good. Don’t think I can do that even though I own VMware for the Mac.

    Remember Microsoft’s installation of Genuine Advantage as a required system update? Or the trick Sony pulled a week or two ago removing functionality from the PS3?

    We may find our computers, mobile devices, and video decks will also become (mandated by law and therefore difficult to detect) updated to the next feature set.

  22. There’s all that tecnhnology that can do amazing things on Computer and they put a restriction bar on it or destroying it. Software that’s easily accesable to burn Dvds this is what we I mean the pubic want. I thought that could it be possible to transfer Dvds on to Memory Cards before I ever knew that Software Online exist cause I wanted to save my material I’ve got that easily wears out after many years of playing the same ones constantly. That you always have to keep buying another Dvd everytime it ends up with scratches on and can’t play anymore cause of it. For that I didn’t think that would be possible to transfer to Memory Card. Thinking and having a happy for it existing and fun times is a crime. Please make it legal for us to do that before you the Government, enforcement etc destroy everything including. yourselves. Let’s see some common sense here if there’s any left of it.

  23. This isn’t going to do ANYTHING to prevent people from singing copyrighted material in the shower or turning their boomboxes up loud enough to constitute a public performance.

    A step in the right direction perhaps, but CLEARLY we have a long way to go to fully protect the intellectual property of rightsholders.

  24. Can we serve the special Kool Aid at their next gathering??

    It is incredible how far they are willing to go to prevent people from “pirating/infringing”…

  25. I’m wondering how border searches would work. I have 6GB of mp3s on my phone, and I’m going to say all of them were legitimately downloaded from Amazon or, more likely, eMusic. How are they to prove any different? That’s the only electronic device I’d carry across a border anyway.

  26. do they want me to carry around receipts from the cds i buy to prove that i did purchase them?

    No – but only because the plan would include making possession (I was going to write ‘ownership’) of a current type CD unlawful since they have no DRM enforcement. Similarly all paper books would become unlawful, pencils, pens etc would be banned since they can be used to infringe copyright – by *copying*.

  27. I have a better idea, let’s enforce accounting standards on the movie and music industries and insure that the CREATIVE TALENT gets the bulk of the profits and not the middlemen.

    And how about some criminal prosecutions for conspiracy to defraud artists.

    That should clean up the industry a bit.

  28. Smells like a really “BIG” lawsuit for invasion of privacy. Maybe we can make some money off this???

  29. While I agree with the undesirability of your first four bullet points, the last one is true of virtually ANY criminal activity. We don’t persnoally pay the police to arrest people who mug us, or even the prosecutors to prosecute them. Even though we might have to sue to get our money back. That is at the HEART of the distinction between criminal and civil law.

  30. Why would *anyone* install software that spies on them for the RIAA/MPAA? I mean, people know downloading music and such is not legal, and do it anyway, so why would they rat themselves out on purpose?
    Also, I don’t think that it’d work on my machine as it is running Ubuntu 10.04 :) (I am *not* going to use WINE for spyware, m’kay?)

  31. And the money I pay for Content Inc’s products goes to fund their side of this culture war?

    Well, then hoist the main sail, matey!

    It’s the pirate’s life for me!

  32. Look. I’m from Canada. Apparently we have a bad reputation when it comes to this because I can’t log on to ABC, CBS, or NBC (for instance) websites because of these kinds of laws.

    Content providers: here’s the answer… don’t hate the playahs… instead, start playing the game properly!

    Develop affordable, easy to use, friendly platforms and ways for us to get to your content online.

    “Lost” is FREE when I watch it on TV…because I have to sit through commercials; advertising pays for content, right. So why can’t it be FREE online, too? If I really don’t want to watch commercials, charge me a per-skip fee of a couple pennies to skip the commercials.

    Music? Well, dudes – maybe the mix tape is back? Seriously, stop it! People have been trading and copying music since there was a way to do it… and may I remind you that it was the industry that wanted to make those ways available… so it’s the industry that opened up the Pandora’s box.

    Copyright infringement is here to stay. Get used to it. I think they should bust folks who are brazen enough to set up their own pirate cottage industries but leave casual shmoes like me who like to torrent an episode of something here and there alone.

    And if it gets to the point where the computers come out of the box with this stuff installed, then I’ll go back to reading books.

    Oh, right… I’ll “license” the books if I cross the border. Please.

  33. If anything I can understand wishing to enforce copy right but the new bits that they are trying to do right now with this if I read all of this correctly and interpreted it the way it was meant to be, then it is going a bit far. Especially with “border bullying” something that I view as them taking it to far.

  34. @41 I’m pretty sure the reason you can’t log on to ABC/NBC/CBS, Hulu et al.. is because Canada is a foreign market for US TV (Not for movies though). They have sold the rights to broadcast to City/Global/CBC/CTV, and do not want to undercut the Canadian schedules.
    Many can be viewed through an anonomizer like Hotspot Shield.
    I like your idea of a skip charge,kinda reminds me of the “free internet” service I signed up for many years ago. There was a line across the screen just over halfway up, with the bottom 60% being nonstop seizure inducing ads. I couldn’t afford pennies to blank it out every day, but a piece of construction paper worked well until I got a job.

  35. I think what needs to be done is to bankrupt these industries as fast as possible. I don’t mean by any “Illegal” means and we know better than to discuss that on the net. However, lots of ‘legal’ ways to do it. Right now, they are bleeding money due to the economy alone. A few more pushes, they’ll collapse.

    My problem is not so much they want to protect their drek and crud, but that they want to do to the internet and even personal home computers what they did to Music and TV years past: Block it out so you can not “Create Content” without working for “Da Man”.

    All these measures will be used to disrupt people making their own non-royalty stuff. And later they’ll say “Photoshop is the tool of the theif!” and essentially ban personal use of all but the most lobotomized programming, graphics and other software.

    Except, they are stupid as they are tyrannical and greedy. All these “Measures” if forced in a computer will be easily “Hacked”. It’ll be so the hacker can abuse a dreaded “Lockdown” code that shreds the HDD’s, possibly even causes the motherboards to destroy themselves (another thing they want built in, the ‘bomblet’ next to the CPU!) and so one mass mail and cross-infection to webpages of a simple command (like a bunch of random ASCII ten characters long) shuts down most of the world and causes trillions in damage.

  36. When I enter my 3D artwork into animation contests, I get insulting reviews about how bad it is. I got a different review when I uploaded to’s postage stamp printing program. Although it was my own, original 3D artwork created from scratch–from primitive spheres and cylinders–I was told that screen grabs of video games were illegal. It got rejected twice before Zazzle finally let me use it.

    It appears some flunkie had been trained that a certain style of artwork couldn’t possibly come from an average human being, and so therefore must be a copyright infringement. That’s certainly acceptable collateral damage in Big Media’s view, if not part of the point.

    In the RIAA’s Distopia, I’m imagining what TSA security guards would say about all the incredibly lame home-grown animations I have on my Ipod Touch.

  37. This gives me an idea for a new kind of computer virus:

    Propagate a piece of code that identifies all user created documents, especially those using pesky open formats like ODF, lists them as copyright infringing, and deletes them.

    Then, anyone who is not already under contract to produce creative intellectual property will be Unable to produce. Nothing new will be created unless it has been contracted for.


  38. Oh yes, that is going to make me buy their mediocre products, sure…

    I have learnt to live without a TV set, without newspapers, and without a radio. I make my own music, film and animate my own movies, I make my own artwork, I write my own blog. My stuff is for free out on the web. And… well, what a surprise, so is the wonderful artwork of hundreds of thousands people who are even more talented and skilled than I am!

    If I was a big content dealer, I’d be scared, too!

  39. In January of this year I came across a certain PDF from the DHS. Totally above-board, a call for talent. To fill out their wish list. Blew my mind, how all the pieces were starting to fall into place – around us –

    A friend of mine saw the PDF and shook his head, saying, “Its always been about the same thing: Its always been about the drugs. The drugs and the downloads.” The technologies are now just about powerful enough, to let these cats out of their bag, don’t you think? When you read the following, keep an eye out for them. Five years ago, there would only have been hints, maybe one vague mention, if any. One could tell, however, that the new technologies could easily handle substitutions. One could tell – or I thought one could – where the nouveau-fasciste were going. Like one knows when they really want drugs, they talk explosives; when they want dissidents, they talk child porn; when they want file-sharers, well, they try not to say anything until the scheme is underway….

    ———from 2010 DHS Wish List, or, Watch Out by this female Faust. PDF, ACTA docs, and other links of possible interest at source

  40. “There’s a technical term for this in policy circles. I believe it’s “Totally insane.””

    There is a technical term for this, but that isn’t it. The technical term is the Overton Window.

  41. As insane as it is, I wouldn’t put it past the American government to implement it. After all, forcing a person to respect copyrights through absolutely insane and completely fascist methods is a staple of freedom. Or words to that effect.

    It’s only a matter of time before they destroy themselves with this insanity.

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