Influential think-tanky tells Congress: bandwidth caps fight piracy!

Ars Technica's Nate Anderson summarizes the crazy House Judiciary Committee testimony of Daniel Castro from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation DC think tank. Castro was testifying on proposals to reduce online copyright infringement, and he suggested that ISPs caps on downloads were a good way to accomplish this goal (much in the same way that you could reduce traffic fatalities by allowing auto-manufacturers to cap the number of miles you were allowed to drive each month!). It got crazier from there, and none of it would matter except that Castro has historically had the ear of lawmakers, who incorporated some of his proposals into the pending COICA web-censorship bill.
Should the US government actually fund antipiracy research? Sure. Should the US government "enlist" Internet providers to block entire websites? Sure. Should copyright holders suggest to the government which sites should go on the blocklist? Sure. Should ad networks and payment processors be forced to cut ties to such sites, even if those sites are legal in the countries where they operate? Sure.

Castro's original 2009 paper goes further, suggesting that deep packet inspection (DPI) be routinely deployed by ISPs in order to scan subscriber traffic for potential copyright infringements. Sound like wiretapping? Yes, though Castro has a solution if courts do crack down on the practice: "the law should be changed."

After all, "piracy mitigation with DPI deals with a set of issues virtually identical to the largely noncontroversial question of virus detection and mitigation."

Congress told that Internet data caps will discourage piracy

(Image: Piracy, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from toobydoo's photostream)


  1. Did anyone testify to congress that bandwidth caps will also reduce legitimate digital purchases? Seems like it is a fair point to make that they “fight” internet usage overall.

  2. And when these bandwidth caps are applied to Netflix’s 1080p streaming videos…

    What am I saying, they won’t be: Netflix is a big company so they won’t be effected by stupid things like LAWS.

    1. I don’t think a legally mandated bandwidth cap is anywhere near a good Idea, for the reasons Tim said. As it seems many ‘unlimited’ account will get capped if they pass the ‘fair use amount’, perhaps the best solution would be to kill the ‘unlimited’ notion, cling to net neutrality and let people get billed per bit, at reasonable rates that match up with current rates. And that 2% that take the pi$$? that’s fine, they can pay for it legit or not, and net neutrality is preserved, people are no longer outraged to find ‘it said unlimited until i tried to watch some net tv ..’ and everyone’s happy?

    2. If you aren’t downloading illegally I doubt normal streaming usage will hit any reasonable cap. If Netflix becomes an issue your ISP will probably exempt Netflix from the cap either for free or for a nominal fee. I see no problem with this.

      I, like Lobster above, play TONS of online games and even download games that I have purchased from Steam regularly. I doubt I could hit a 100-150GB cap or even come CLOSE to hitting it without illegally sharing files.

      Simple solution: Stop illegally sharing files. Then the cap won’t hurt you. This isn’t that hard. Just stop stealing things that aren’t yours.

      urpBurp: I’m all for illegal file sharing being a felony. The punishments obviously aren’t strong enough. People haven’t stopped doing it.

      1. Dirk, what scares me is the word “illegal”. You have a definition in your mind and you base your beliefs on that (as well you should), but are you certain your definition matches with everyone else or even the people writing the law? Life is not just black and white where more than one person is involved.

        Remember how some copyright protectors want to make it “illegal” to take pictures of anything if there happens to be a copyrighted logo or product in it – Starbucks, etc… And some people want to make it “illegal” to play your music loud because you are sharing.

        First I need to know whose definition of “illegal” we will be using. This would not be a good “pass it so we can see what’s in it” thing.

        1. Illegal is a very simple definition: against the law. If you don’t like the law lobby to change the law. Until you do that successfully it’s STILL illegal.

          If someone does something illegal they get punished based on what the law says the punishment is. If the punishment isn’t strong enough to deter people breaking the law then the punishment should be increased until it is.

          None of this is complicated.

          All of the people in power to make, influence, lobby for/against, and request these laws were put in power either directly or indirectly because of the people. Either they were elected with votes or with dollars. Their decisions can be considered representative decisions of the society that put them in that position (the same society that can easily remove them from that position).

          1. >> Illegal is a very simple definition: against the law.

            why would we need a Supreme Court then? ‘illegal’ is not always a simple judgment call.

          2. DirkSJ: This definition of

            If the punishment isn’t strong enough to deter people breaking the law then the punishment should be increased until it is.

            Except the law is not, will not be, equally enforced. It’s so tangled it’s now actually impossible to obey, even if you try. But it’s enforced only against people who don’t work for media companies, and who they feel like bothering this week. (Jack Valenti’s kids never received any pay-up-or-be-prosecuted letters; neither were Bush’s – despite very publicly admitted violations of the same copyright laws.)

            Better plan: The law should be decreased until it doesn’t criminalise the entire population. You see, without realising it, you’re advocated the incarceration of 100% of the population, including all cops, and you.

            The law is sometimes stupid or corrupt, but it’s always overbroad. You did something illegal this month. 100% certainty. (Befriend a cop, if you haven’t already, and ask him to hang around you in public for a couple of hours and then tell you what he could arrest you for, if he wanted. It’s eye-opening.)

            This is especially true of copyright law – which everyone breaks all the time, and has for decades, because it’s become so badly written that it’s no longer possible to operate in the modern world without breaking it.

            All of the people in power to make, influence, lobby for/against, and request these laws were put in power either directly or indirectly because of the people.

            No, they weren’t, except in the trivial sense that “the people” haven’t yet rioted, murdered everyone in Washington, and started again from scratch.

            The politicians cannot be voted out. (In all parties, not-being-a-DRM-puppet pretty much disqualifies you from running for office.) The public are allowed to vote only from a self-selected pool which doesn’t contain a good answer.

            And most of the lobbyists were NOT put in place by the system, but by one or two rich execs.
            They cannot even be identified; the supreme court just guaranteed that you don’t even get to know who bribed your representatives. “The people” simply don’t get a look in.

            Which is why it’s not morally wrong to ignore most modern copyright law. Mildly dangerous, but not wrong. When I get a say in those laws, then I’ll obey them – even if I disagree with them.

          3. Holy Cow… when was the last time anyone in power in DC actually represented the common citizen? Even if our votes got them there based on campaign fluff, they have no problems doing the exact opposite once elected. The career politician is in an elite club my friend. Cash fills more seats of power than honest voting, and it has for a looong time.

            Do you speed? Do you switch lanes without signaling? Do you cross the street illegally? Do you toss a bit of trash on the ground every now and then? Do you bring your own treats into the theater?

            Would you except the punishment for these if caught? And if you know they are illegal, why do you continue to do them? Would you share copyrighted material if there was no law against it?

            If you have no problems swallowing everything as “illegal” that someone in power slides through greased hands, then you honestly scare the crap out of me. This is no slippery slope. Through history many things have been illegal like women voting, mixed races in schools and many more. (And no, I am not equating file sharing as a great a tragedy as with human suffering). But if we go as simple as “if it’s against the law, that’s all that matters”. Where do we go from there?

          4. For the most part I do not do any of those things you listed, no. In the cases where I do I would absolutely accept punishment for the crime. That’s the largest problem with our society, in my opinion: failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions. If I do something society deems illegal I expect society to punish me for it.

            The concept of a copyrighted material without any law to protect it is sort of nonsensical. I’m not even sure how to answer that part.

            Where we differ here, startlingly so, is in perspective. Yes women used to not be able to vote. And at the time that was what society thought was right. Have you seen any of the old propaganda from the “other side” of that issue? There were actually WOMEN’S GROUPS that didn’t want the vote. They didn’t think they should have it. Overall, in the end, society deemed it right that they should have it. So they got it. A new right was formed.

            Morality can either be defined by a higher power or by society. There is no other source of what is “right” vs “wrong”. If, of those two, society is the one you choose then there is nothing immoral about cannibal tribes and nothing immoral about women not getting to vote 100 years ago. It was what that specific society had decided was “right” at that time or place and therefore WAS “right” for that time or place.

            You can’t retroactively apply today’s societal views of right and wrong to yesterday’s society. It’s like using today’s dictionary to read Chaucer’s old English “Canterbury Tales”. It makes no sense.

            If you are opting for a high power defining morality then there’s a whole new ball of wax…which religion is the right one? How do you determine what it wants/means/says is correct? It’s far easier to just go with society as the true source of right and wrong.

          5. I disagree with the statement that “morality can either be defined by a higher power or by society.” I feel that I have a right, if not an obligation, to define my own morality. I understand that, through laws, society is enforcing a baseline morality. In most cases, I hold myself to a higher standard. For example, I am more honest than I’m legally required to be. There are laws in my current society that I disagree with, but as a participant in this society I feel a moral obligation to follow the agreed upon laws. However, some laws strike me as so wrong that I cannot follow them (cf civil disobedience).

          6. That is a very enlightened view of morality that I can definitely get behind. I try to honor as much of societies morality as I can and hold myself to a higher standard where possible.

            I suppose I fail to see how someone making a song and wanting others to pay for that song instead of getting to listen to it for free can be morally wrong. The song was made and released with the intent to gain money for it’s use. People are spitting in the face of these artists and stealing what it is their job to produce.

            I fail to see how it is morally wrong for a company providing a service to decide to limit that service. I fail to see how the government would be acting immorally here either. They would be acting in good faith on the findings of a noted think-tank to attempt to curb lawbreaking. If anything it would be immoral to ignore these findings. At the very least, illogical.

      2. this is like that lame argument for wiretapping: “i’m not doing anything bad so it’s ok for them to wiretap! go for it!”

        so you’ll only care when they choose to limit something you actually do care about? but by that time, it may be too late.

        the internet is OURS, not theirs, don’t just hand it over to them! they don’t have our best interests in mind even if this specific limit doesn’t impact you directly. the internet works because it is a wild west of sorts, we need to do whatever it takes to maintain that sensibility – the internet would be pretty lame if what you got was arbitrarily limited or filtered through someone’s colored lens…

        if you don’t fit the model of what they consider a user to be, you’re screwed whether you’re doing something legal or not.

        1. Captain: I’m a big fan of the argument “i’m not doing anything bad so it’s ok for them to wiretap! go for it!”. I think slippery slope arguments are overused. I have no problem with the government listening in to me and my girlfriend making coo coo noises at each other on the phone.

          The internet isn’t yours or “ours” or any of that nonsense. It can and should be regulated. The Supreme Court is one of the avenues to change laws. If you don’t like a law and want it changed that’s an option for you to try. Our society presents many options.

          Steeroy: I am a very high bandwidth user of legal downloads and I seriously doubt I could hit 100-150GB. I’m sure people that do can buy the premium plan and get 250GB. But there is no reason that this 2% of the population (according to AT&T’s data, most of which is probably the illegal folks) should dictate for the whole.

          Tynam: No law is perfect. That’s why we have courts and we have sentences that have a range of possibly punishments instead of one simple one. Removing and decreasing all laws until they are toothless is about the silliest thing I have read in my life. That leads to chaos and anarchy.

          Yes politicians can be voted out. Vote for 3rd parties. What you don’t think they will win? No they probably won’t. Because people like the two parties we have enough to keep them in power. If this were really such a hot issue that was so vitally important to the U.S. public then people would force their representatives to take notice or vote for 3rd parties.

          The Tea Party is an example of this. I am not a Tea Party supporter but the story is simple to see: A bunch of very right wing people got pissed off enough to create a movement in government and have gained a lot of ground. If this copyright/illegal downloading/bandwidth limiting business was important someone would start the Net Party and get the same results. So far the results are meager at best. Ergo: not very important to the public.

          The people will effect change when that change is actually what the people really want. What we are dealing with right now is yet another vocal minority/silent majority situation.

          1. what? the Supreme Court also decides whether a law was broken or not in grey situations for future decision-making – like whether violent media should be treated like porn. the law is not always obvious especially with emerging technologies or tech that is still in it’s infancy.

            the internet is not ours? who created and popularized lolcats? you mean the ‘last mile’ of copper or fiber wasn’t in large part payed for with my taxes in my area? ecommerce wasn’t created in the same space and by the same “people” as those on 4chan or anywhere else? corps and gov’t poo-poo’d the internet until we the people made it something great, sorry, that’s reality. WE made it what it is, not corporations (or the military). just because big cable steps in and on everyone while telling you it’s their internet doesn’t make it so.

            an internet that was not created by the people wouldn’t need to be policed after the fact, a watchdog would have been there from the very beginning preventing people from trading the Anarchists Cookbook and other text files the FBI hated. we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, this stuff would have all been decided for us already.

            also it’s fine if you don’t believe the slippery slope exists but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist.

          2. “the internet is not ours? who created and popularized lolcats? you mean the ‘last mile’ of copper or fiber wasn’t in large part payed for with my taxes in my area?”
            My personal access to the internet was granted by a cable company. Without them existing I would have no internet.

            Because tax dollars went to pay for your local power plant’s operation that means the power is yours? And the water/sewer? No. Sorry. The government and various local and international corporations own the internet. They are just extremely unorganized and have no central leadership.

            “an internet that was not created by the people wouldn’t need to be policed after the fact”
            If you’d like to pull up your friendly wikipedia you will find that the internet was indeed commissioned by the US Government working with private industry in the 1960’s. The government failed to exert proper control in it’s infancy and let it get out of hand, overcommercialized, and undercontrolled. Now they are trying to reign it back in a bit.

            Reminds me of anti-trust law, honestly, or the gold rush. Corporations were allowed to go a little too far and had to be brought to heel. In the case of the internet, people are being allowed to go a bit too far and break too many laws in what is the current day’s lawless West.

            “also it’s fine if you don’t believe the slippery slope exists but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist.”
            That argument cuts both ways: it doesn’t mean it exists either.

          3. What the hell. Don’t compare bandwidth to utilities. Internet is not a utility and never has been because it is not a finite resource. The band that powers the internet can be infinitely reproduced whereas utilities like electricity require fuel to generate, much of which is non-renewable. That argument is a load of bullshit.

          4. I think slippery slope arguments are overused. I have no problem with the government listening in to me and my girlfriend making coo coo noises at each other on the phone.

            Obviously this is because you’re only part of majorities that don’t stand out, and nobody would actually bother doing anything against. Other people, who have actually dealt with the consequences of things you are flip about, know better.

      3. “If you aren’t downloading illegally I doubt normal streaming usage will hit any reasonable cap.”

        Downloading uses the same bandwidth whether it’s legal or not. If downloading files illegally hits the cap, so does downloading them legally. If bandwidth caps discourage illegal downloading, they discourage legal downloads too. I don’t know how many different ways I need to say this.

      4. People like you are annoying. Ten to fifteen years ago you would have said a download cap of 10 GB is more then enough and you even point towards yourself as the example and expect everyone else to follow it.

  3. I know this is a stupid way to approach the problem but I’m not entirely sure it’s impossible to pull off anymore. AT&T seems to be planning to cap their DSL usage to 150GB per month. I play a lot of online games and I even buy games through digital distribution pretty regularly and even then I can’t really imagine hitting 150GB unless I’m running a filesharing server. AT&T says it’ll only impact about 2% of their users and I’d believe it. I’d also believe most of that 2% are currently doing things they shouldn’t be doing (and some are doing things that are legit but probably still not really what AT&T DSL is intended for).

    I ask you, Boingers: is there any point at which a bandwidth cap is acceptable, even if it’s always distasteful and heavy-handed? What if it was 1000GB per month?

    1. No way to know. What works for you today may be untenable in a couple years. Imagine if you were limited to the bandwidth you had in the nineties.

    2. I think the bigger point is that you’re offering a service that you’re marketing as “Unlimited” and then setting a limit. Sell me a high-speed data plan with a 1gb cap at 5.95 a month and I’m not going to complain; sell me an unlimited service at $50/month and cap it and you better believe I’m going to complain.

      It’s like going to a buffet and being told you you can only get 2 plates.

      Call it bait and switch, call it false advertising, whatever you call it, it’s not right. There’s no reason that a company should put a cap on a service unless the customer knows up front there’s a cap (such as a cell plan with 300 minutes), or if it’s a legal punishment (caught and convicted for hacking or illegal file sharing).

      People say “Then find another service!” Problem is the poor regulation and lack of timely deregulation in the telecom industry limits your choices. My choices for hi-speed internet are ATT or Time Warner.

      1. “sell me an unlimited service at $50/month and cap it and you better believe I’m going to complain. ”

        Casually poking around the ATT site I see them saying “Unlimited access” a bunch of places but never “Unlimited bandwidth”. I didn’t do a deep dig on their site though. If it does say “Unlimited bandwidth” anywhere I’m sure there is a little star and a footnote.

    1. You aren’t misreading anything.

      My hope is that technology will continue to evolve beyond the comprehension of our woefully inept representatives in DC. That’s our only hope for a free internet.

  4. ISPs could, but do not, use DPI to mitigate viruses for the same reasons they should not use DPI to mitigate file sharing.

  5. the Linux crowd will love this, (NOT!)

    a simple Linux ISO typically is 680 to 700 megs

    and some of the bigger ISOs for DVD can be almost 4.5 gigs…

  6. Technology changes all the time. More and more people will be streaming 1080p videos. 150gb is really little.

  7. On the one hand, it makes sense – with a cap, you can’t freely download as many 4 GB HD movies as you like and as many 5 GB + computer games you like (though that goes for Steam too), and 700mb+ TV episodes of course (I download Top Gear and other BBC shows in 720p, those clock in at about 2 GB or more each).

    But, you can get an awful lot of those things with just 150 GB. You’d have to try to keep track and be careful, but that’s enough to satisfy my downloading habits and I think I’m fairly typical. Which is not to imply I’d accept such a cap – I’m vehemently opposed, unless the way they price service is radically changed.

    So to be effective, the cap has to be outrageously small. But then you’re blocking essentially every other legitimate internet activity besides email and light browsing, so that won’t work.

    And on the other hand if caps get in anyone’s way, they’ll find a way around it if they care enough, the easiest way being sneakernet assuming you know enough people to be interested. Even with a small group of casual copyright infringers it’d be effective, though – I can easily imagine a group of office workers arranging who’s going to download what, and everything is passed around on flash drives. For more technical types, the sky’s the limit.

    1. this exactly.

      I have time to watch N movies a month. Personally, I pay Netflix to legally stream these to me. Somebody else might pirate them. Either way, within a multiple of 2, the same amount of data gets distributed whether the movie comes legally from Netflix or illegally from Billy The Pirate. Either pirates can still access enough data to watch all the movies they want, or I as a legitimate customer no longer can.

      And as to the theory that Netflix will get an exemption: The only broadband internet available to me comes from Comcast, who could be making about $80 more a month off me if Netflix didn’t exist. You really think they’re eager to make it easy for me to get my entertainment from anybody other than them?

  8. Dirk. It is far from as simple black and white as you’re trying to put it. Also as for these politicians that get elected. They get elected under one platform, one tht will appeal to as many people as possible so they get elected, and then spin their being bankrolled and in the pockets of corporate overlords (or big pharma, or Whoever) as ‘helping’ so they can get re-elected down the line.

    Then again what am I doing. You’re trolling. Go back and look at the posts about canada’s teleco problems. That’s where we’re headed.

  9. Even though I think bandwidth = piracy is a non-sequitor, I suspect that capping bandwidth would have the exact opposite effect. It would reduce my means of acquiring media legally.

    If I can’t acquire media legally, my options are to either not want it any more or to use clandestine methods. Stealing bandwidth from the neighbors comes in at the #1 option, but from there, it just gets worse.

    As we’ve seen in the great successes of the ‘drug war,’ people get what they want, and don’t care about how.

  10. What have we learned today, kids? That’s right, only torrent what you actually need. So long as you don’t get greedy, you won’t run into trouble and the bandwidth caps will only inconvenience legitimate high-volume users.

    Of course, when another think-tank notices that bandwidth caps aren’t actually having any effect on pirates, the obvious solution will be to lower the bandwidth caps. And then lower them again. Naturally, though, you’ll be able to pay to get the cap lifted and, hallelujah, it’s a new profit center for ISPs!

  11. Welcome to sunny New Zealand where bandwidth caps have never left. There’s no such thing as ‘unlimited/unrestricted’ access here. Since moving here from the UK I’ve certainly had to reduce the amount of piracy I indulge in—so there is a legitimate point here. However I’ve also had to ration my entire family’s Internet usage in general. Poop.

  12. Again this will only hurt legitimate users.

    Pirates download once and watch it as many times as they like.

    Legal streaming means you get to download it every time you want to watch.
    So it seems to me the people who are legally streaming, are the ones consuming the most bandwidth.

    Pirates are the ones who are making the most efficient use of the

  13. How come governments try to push for the implementation of DPI to protect the profits of media companies but never push for DPI to try and curb child porn?

  14. Cable company imposed bandwidth caps are most effective in preventing consumer adoption of IP based streaming services. Not in improving network performance, and not in reducing piracy. Anti-competitive benefits to cable providers quickly become evident to any household attempting to switch from traditional cable to IP based streaming service providers such as Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow, Blockbuster, YouTube, etc…

    For example, our familiy’s monthly bandwidth immeadiately shot up from 50-80GB per month, to 220-245GB per month when we started using Netflix. As we are close to our ISP’s 250GB cap, we really have to keep close tabs on how much commercial free on demand goodness our kids consume. You would be surprised just how fast you run out of bandwidth just watching Dora the Explorer, Bob the Builder, and Jimmy Newtron…

  15. Their real goal has nothing to do with protecting them from “Piracy”. I’m sure by now they all realize it’s just advertisement for products and helps more than hurts.

    What things like this are for, IMO, is to crack down on their real threat; “Independents”

    Right now “The media” is still dominated by a handful of mega corporations that more or less excrete the same sh-t. The real “Music Piracy” was the act of recording and mass producing and distributing it itself. Ditto for art, movies, books. Once it became practical to mass-produce copies the giant companies dominated the field. No longer did an artists skill or vision matter and soon no longer the public’s real desire mattered. Only that the big companies could decide what would be in the bookstore, on the news, on the radio.

    They don’t fear pirates. They fear what they claim to champion, a “Free Market”.

  16. If I don’t have enough bandwidth left to download, say, 2 legally purchased movies, then I have no other way of getting legal digital versions of those two movies. I must buy only 1 or none.

    However, if I don’t have enough bandwidth left to illegally P2P 2 copyrighted movies, I can download 1, ask a friend to download the other, and then swap. Because a pirated movie is a superior technology to a DRMed movie.

    Hollywood’s penchant for self-crippling strikes again.

    In other words, Daniel Castro is an idiot.

  17. Dirk, what is a “reasonable cap”? I have the highest available residential cap in my country and it’s just over 30g, and that’s only after a slow increase over the last 6 months from 20g where it sat for years. My ISP, my country, believes this is a reasonable cap.
    I will regularly break this cap just buying a Steam game, watching youtube, and streaming in some US TV shows that aren’t broadcast on our shores. I do not consider this cap reasonable – maybe you don’t either – but we’re not the ones who get to make a decision on that. The people who do are the same ones being told that you will do nothing but pirate on whatever scraps of data you have.

    Incidentally, before I even had the internet I had an Amiga 500. Most of my friends did too, and I suppose somewhere in that extending network of friends someone had a connection at work or something, because none of us had more than two legitimate games in personal libraries of over 300. We traded in person and on disk, which is exactly what post-cap pirates would do – slower, yes, but no less ubiquitous.

  18. Do you know what I’d do if bandwidth caps proposed by copyright holders kept me from downloading the games I buy from Steam, the music I buy online, and the streaming videos I pay Netflix for?

    I’d find an open wifi network, and I’d start pirating the movies and music, at least.

    If they don’t want my business I’m completely happy to save money by complying.

  19. I just read this after watching a pirated copy of the Oscar® award winning film “Inside Job” and I will surely sleep better tonight safe in the assurance that President Obama has his priorities in order when it comes to the well being and prosperity of the American people…

  20. As to who owns the internet:

    First, there’s the question of whether “the internet” is a series of data connections and switches or if it is the “content” that is enabled by that infrastructure. In other words, is my personal website part of the internet? If so, then part of the internet *is* mine and I’ve asserted copyright on it and provided it to others using a creative commons license.

    If you’re talking about the gear, you have said that it’s owned by “the government.” I happen to believe that the government is an agent acting on behalf of the people, including me. I own part of the US Government. The ownership is not in the sense that I could go sell my part, although I’m occasionally tempted). But it is in the sense that I expect to be able to get my weather from NOAA, maps from the USGS, and have access to the fruits of the Advanced Research Project Administration. All these projects are funded, in part, by me (as a US taxpayer) and I own a part of them.

    1. Why, that’s like directly equating ones property with ones life, the very thing corporations exist to circumvent.

  21. The song was made and released with the intent to gain money for it’s use.

    Well, you’re obviously not an artist. Because art made for profit rather than for its own sake is generally crap.

    People are spitting in the face of these artists and stealing what it is their job to produce.

    No, people are spitting in the faces of the mega-corporations who keep most of the money that is generated by artists.

    Did you want to link to some paintings of Dickensian orphans next?

    1. Most art made for profit being “crap” doesn’t make it right to steal it.

      If those corporations were not doing a good job of creating products people wanted to buy and setting prices they were willing to spend then they wouldn’t have so much money.

      1. Most art made for profit being “crap” doesn’t make it right to steal it.

        You’re trying to paint a picture of poor, starving artists at the same time that you’re saying that the point of art is profit. You just don’t get it.

        1. When did I say they were starving? You have to be starving for it to be wrong to steal from you? It’s just as wrong to steal from the rich as the poor.

  22. Dirk, I’d be wary of arguments by popularity if I were you. Nobody here would miss you, if you get my drift.

    Luckily for you most of us have useful non-arbitrary morals instead of simply doing whatever someone tells us is allowed.

    As long as your “society” forces me into voting for someone I don’t want (or forfeit all say) it doesn’t represent me.

    Copyright (and all IP laws) are a restraint on reasonable and natural behavior – seeing something and being able to use it. You might as well mandate that toddlers not be allowed to learn language without permission. Even if you are successful you’ll merely end up with a country full of imbeciles.

    If you want to tax me heavily and pass laws that are out of touch with reality (the DMCA banning reverse engineering in most real scenarios, bandwidth caps to fight imaginary problems, etc) then you’d best ask if I agree. In this case not only do I not think it is moral, I don’t think it’s possible and I don’t feel like funding your attempts to legislate away the tide.

    1. “Copyright (and all IP laws) are a restraint on reasonable and natural behavior – seeing something and being able to use it.”

      If I see your car and I want to use it I should be able to then? Without your permission? I’m sorry I’d like my possessions to remain mine and part of protecting my possessions is protecting other people’s possessions…even IP based ones.

      If through hard work, determination, and intelligence I manage to come up with a better mousetrap I want the millions of dollars I deserve for the service I have just rendered society. I want my IP protected. If I want mine protected that means I should protect others IP as well and support a healthy and robust protection system.

  23. Following closely behind this will be thinking, talking and breathing taxes and restrictions.

  24. If I see your car and I want to use it I should be able to then?

    Since listening to a song in no way prevents anyone else from listening to it, your analogy is crude and irrelevant.

    1. “Since listening to a song in no way prevents anyone else from listening to it, your analogy is crude and irrelevant.”

      How else should I interpret his statement then? He is positing that it is reasonable and natural human behavior to see something and be able/allowed to use it. The term “something” is his. “Something” includes cars.

      Also why do you think it’s ok to steal from the rich but not the poor? The rich somehow deserve less rights?

      A rich corporation created something with intrinsic and provable value, a song, for the express purpose of selling it. They sell it to a few people. Other people take that song and use it without paying for it. How can this not be theft? Just because it happens to be easy to copy?

      1. Dirk, if anyone has to tell you how not to see the only retarded answer in everything you read you’re already a lost cause.

        If there’s “one unit” of food only one person can eat it. If there’s one car it can only go one place at once. (Ignoring sharing and car-pooling but those are probably curse words to you.)

        But if there’s an idea we can all have it. If you see me watering my garden you can water yours as well and we’ll both have more food.

        Moreover, think of the stupid system we’d need to prevent it. We’d need an enforcement arm to stop other garden-waterers, courts to judge your idea, prisons to put the scofflaws in, accountants and bureaucrats to run the system, and then the cost to society of shutting down everyone who had watered their garden but hadn’t documented it or gotten a patent and thus must now stop (or pay for the privilege.)

        If you’re borrowing a language, roads, a monetary system, peace, etc from the world you’re in it seems not just stupid but wrong to give you exclusive rights to the tiny improvements you might make.

        1. Now it’s you that is oversimplifying and using an unwieldy and inappropriate comparison. A commercially produced song is in no way analogous to watering your lawn.

          No corporation spent hundreds of man hours recruiting, developing, producing, and marketing watering your lawn. With a commercially produced song all those costs and all of that added value are there. All that effort was made to find, make, and market something valuable and each step is carefully designed to enhance that value. When someone makes something valuable it should be protected; it’s theirs. Commercially produced songs are made things.

          Switching to the more generic idea space, if you remove all protection from idea theft you will destroy (or at best severely stifle) innovation. There will never be any reason for any company to spend millions if not billions of dollars developing new ideas because every other company can just pick up that idea and run with it. And on top of that the third party will have an advantage in execution because they didn’t just waste millions of dollars on development; they have more to spend on implementation. Creating a new idea would thus be directly against the company’s best interests.

          And why should a private person ever innovate? I may have the best idea ever for a mousetrap. If I can’t patent that idea why should I bother trying to make it? I’ll make maybe 1000 of them before some huge company sees it and mass produces it driving me out of business. Even personal innovation becomes useless.

          Sure, some people may create for the sake of creating but you’re talking about a tiny percentage of the human population and thus a massive reduction in innovation. Humans are driven by self-interest. Even the ones that think they are being self-sacrificial.

          1. You’re missing the point. Whatever you WANT the world to work like is irrelevant. It doesn’t.

            A car can only be in one place at a time, an idea can be everywhere. You may manage to legally subjugate a nation, or world, and cripple their computers/photocopies/TVs/etc to enforce this, but ONE person can get past your protections once and undo the whole scheme. To base anything on this is lunacy; even if you weren’t trying to do something impossible you’re crippling yourself to do so.

            But further, you’ve just bought the pro-patent line, hook, um.. line, and sinker. You don’t KNOW ideas won’t be had, you just assume. You can’t imagine making profit without a monopoly so you assume it’s impossible. You don’t publish your creations for non-profit reasons so nobody else ever does. You assume nobody would invent without a piece of the pie, despite how our system usually pays the ‘talent’ a wage without royalties. And further, even if we did want to fund creation you can’t image doing it any other way than restrictive monopolies.

            If you really thought patents were good you’d want to pitch the corrupt nonsense we have now where a little mistake in paperwork can cost a valid inventor their patent and where cheaters ( claim trivial ideas as their own, shutting out legitimate competition. If you support the current state of patents and IP you’re a tool of big-business, and hurting everyone.

            If we really wanted to reward inventors we’d 1) guarantee it, regardless of paperwork, etc, 2) pay the inventors of what proves useful, not what looked useful at invention-time 3) let everyone use anything, as a way of determining #2.

            Until then patents are worse than useless – they kill real innovation, protecting only those megacorps you’re worries about stealing ideas from the little guy.

  25. He sounds like a brilliant man. However he is overlooking the much more effective solution of simply shutting down the internet completely, this would stop online piracy 100%. At the same time, we could also make all sales of physical object illegal to stop the street level piracy. What a wonderfull world we would have then.

    1. If we do this, we then need to fund an army of regulators.

      Much simpler, lets cancel all pertinent regulation so its not illegal. Then no more crime and no army needed.

      One legal analogy I would like to see applied is that of the “Attractive nuisance”. After all, they they do there best to tempt you yet if you don’t proceed through the proper portal, expect much harm to come to you.

  26. sorry if I’m stating the obvious but wouldn’t capping bandwitdth and over regulating the internet could also be a possible way to stop or impede innovation? I don’t know, what if someone had an idea for the next youtube or something and couldn’t come up with the next billion dollar idea because someone in power is too busy protecting the last billion dollar idea?

  27. “It’s as I always say, all really intelligent people should be cremated for reasons of public safety.”

    –Screw-on Head, America’s secret protector

  28. This simply thwarts future growth and innovation, think of 150gb just ten years ago. As a network engineer, there is no feasible reason why you could not place a metric to put the highest bandwidth users on their own vlan. This is dirty business at the expense of future innovation because a bloated, lobbyist heavy pig, wants to reshape the internet and TV (all media) into a giant commercial for corporate conglomerate. Its really sad tbh, remember when corpocracy naysayers were considered conspiracy nuts? Corporations, pushing the middle class into working poor one monthly subscription at a time.

  29. Did someone think that 150GB is bad? We get 17GB a month at 1.5mbps for like $80 before tax. This is why satellite internet needs to be fixed and I’m so tired of bandwidth caps.

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