RIAA prez twirls mustache in anticipation of taking on his role of Internet Witchfinder General

Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, has reminded the nation that at his instigation, the largest ISPs in the USA are set to disconnect their customers, and their customers' families, if the companies that Sherman represents makes a series of unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement against them. The ISPs came to the agreement after pressure from the Obama administration. This "five strikes" rule is the same system that has been decried around the world -- including in the EC and the UN -- as being a gross violation of human rights.

Sherman's role as Witchfinder General for the nation's Internet access kicks off on July 12. After that, if you get on his bad side, he can cost your children their ability to complete their education, he can cost you your job (if you are part of the growing proportion of people whose livelihood depends on the Internet), cut you off from civic and political engagement, lock you away from online access to your bank account and information about consumer rights, and, if you live remotely from your family, he can cost you your ability to stay in touch with them.

Oh, and if you have VOIP for your home phone service, Sherman will take away your 911 access too. Because burning to death is only too good a fate for people accused, without proof, of copyright infringement.

But of course, Sherman represents a sober-sided and cautious industry, the sort of people who claim that the Internet has cost them more jobs than they ever created and that an iPod's worth of songs is worth $8 billion, so they'll never abuse this power.

Thanks, ISPs, for capitulating to some of the worst companies in the world. Thanks, Obama administration, for turning America's attorney general's office into a revolving door career opportunity for entertainment industry lawyers. And thanks, RIAA, for making the case that your companies are too dangerous to peacefully co-exist with the Internet. SOPA was just the beginning, suckers.

Here's Greg Sandoval on CNet:

"Each ISP has to develop their infrastructure for automating the system," Sherman said. They need this "for establishing the database so they can keep track of repeat infringers, so they know that this is the first notice or the third notice. Every ISP has to do it differently depending on the architecture of its particular network. Some are nearing completion and others are a little further from completion."

The program, commonly referred to as "graduated response," requires that ISPs send out one or two educational notices to those customers who are accused of downloading copyrighted content illegally. If the customer doesn't stop, the ISP is then asked to send out "confirmation notices" asking that they confirm they have received notice.

At that time, the accused customers will also be informed of the risks they incur if they don't stop pirating material. If the customer is flagged for pirating again, the ISP can then ratchet up the pressure. Participating ISPs can choose from a list of penalties, or what the RIAA calls "mitigation measures," which include throttling down the customer's connection speed and suspending Web access until the subscriber agrees to stop pirating.

RIAA chief: ISPs to start policing copyright by July 12 (via /.)


    1. While i can’t claim some kind of sainthood in all this, i do wonder about the mental process that leads to paying for a VPN service just so one can keep on downloading content. I wonder what the tipping point will be regarding paying more for VPN and similar services than just paying for the content itself.

      1. The tipping point will be once all the content is available at a reasonable price in a convenient manner. Currently most of the content is not available, let alone provided by a service that is convenient and priced competitively.

        1. This is exactly right. People are happy to pay a reasonable price for data, especially if it is available in an easy to access platform. Netflix is a perfect example of a company that finally got it.
          Selling ‘data’ of any kind is tricky, since data is so easily copied and shared….the key is to make it convenient and reasonably priced.

      2.  Freedom has a price. And the cost is set by the RIAA. Kind of like paying the TSA to get on the plane without them groping you or irradiating your children. Mob tactics are in place here. And you thought the government was on your side. Bwahahahahahahahahah!

        1. btguard account for all computers in the house- 8 dollars.  netflix account for all devices in the house- another 8 dollars.   total savings over cable bill-  about 80 dollars (monthly)  for more programming, whenever, wherever, and however i want it.   Yarrr.

      3. You can’t actually buy the media you can pirate. It’s in horrible, DRMed formats.


      4. I don’t (knowingly) download any illegal content – but I might fire up the ol’ VPN because I don’t want an ISP  feeling free to inspect/judge my traffic and these folks keep pushing their agenda in ways that affect my privacy in my own speech. There is a fundamental expectation of privacy being eroded here, all out of proportion to the harm done by the (claimed) underlying crime.

  1. People keep buying media from them. Those that don’t want to buy, pirate the movies. They make billions, and yet it still costs me 50 bucks or more to go out to a movie with my wife. So I say, they can’t have my money anymore. And I’m in the tiny minority and it will never change.

  2. Cory:

    Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, has reminded the nation that at his instigation, the largest ISPs in the USA are set to disconnect their customers, and their customers’ families, if the companies that Sherman represents makes a series of unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement against them.


    Participating ISPs can choose from a list of penalties […] which include throttling down the customer’s connection speed and suspending Web access until the subscriber agrees to stop pirating. The ISPs can waive the mitigation measure if they choose and not one of the service providers has agreed to permanently terminate service.

    Using the RIAA’s tactic of unsupported hyperbole, aren’t we?

    1. No. You’re splitting hairs. Cory outlined a very real possibility under this deal.  Sure, ISPs can also use alleged copyright infringement to throttle service. And think about what a win-win that is for them! The ISP doesn’t want you clogging their tubes with all that video watching or p2p sharing, so when they get that IP complaint, it’s a dream come true. No worries about the government sanctioning them, they can throttle traffic for any IP complaint.  Is this more crazy hyperbole? Ah, let’s just trust ’em, cuz ya know, they can waive mitigating measures, etc (seriously, what’s wrong with those of you liking this misguided comment?).

  3. I’d say this will change when a Senator’s house gets disconnected, but instead they’ll just change the law to make Senators immune.

      1.  the home acct probably won’t be linked to his status as a senator, and if the ISP that does the blocking they wouldn’t have that info anyway.

        1. I know someone who works at an ISP and he says that the meta data they collect on subs would include info like holding an elected office or another position of influence (like newspaper editor, reporter, high govt bureaucrat) or of no influence at all.

          1. Smart businesses always sort their customers by value (and that’s more than just direct profitability).

            Tthere’s no point risking the larger business over what amounts to petty cash.

    1. There is already a precedent where lawyers, representing a porn company, dropped their john doe lawsuits when the IP addresses they where based on ended up pointing to law-enforcement or politicians…

    2. It isn’t a law so there is no obligation to apply penalties with any pretence of egalitarianism. Sigh. So dreamy.

      1. Not that they would follow such an obligation if it were a law. I mean, the whole point of law these days seems to be to create a barrier between those above it and those below it.

        1. Agreed. Maybe I’m just a tool of the old nostalgic fallacy but it seems to me that this kind of corruption used to happen within the boundaries of some (admittedly vague) notions of propriety back in the 70s and 80s. We seem in so many ways to be rehashing the corporate outrages of the Gilded Age.

    3.  We need someone to develop an easy-to-use bit of software that spoofs only politician/RIAA IP addresses.

  4. So who do I vote for to keep these things from happening? oh, right. I can’t. No matter what party you vote for, the interests of the Corporations are preserved.

    Our only choice is to keep our heads down and our mouths shut. Since the people are too busy watching TV to revolt.

    1. I assume you’re American. I agree that you can’t currently vote for any Congressional or Senatorial candidate based on his position on this sort of topic; BUT you *can* vote locally, where smaller swings can easily determine the outcome of an election. Once low-level rank-and-file individuals from the mainstream parties start losing their seats, they’re going to pester their bosses to have a decent position.

      That’s how “green” policies paved their way into the mainstream; it took a generation, but they got there. Politics is a very slow game, unfortunately.

  5. I propose we start a BSA-style watchdog group to keep an eye on client addresses using bittorrent, and submitting warnings when RIAA-affiliated companies are found to be downloading copyrighted material.

    Hope  being, this initiative will die a swift death when the people who implemented it are hurt by it.

  6. I’m a bit lost. I have read several stories on this.

    Who is doing the monitoring? The implication is the ISPs, no? Obviously they will be looking at the customers who are the heaviest users of bandwidth, determine origin points of the incoming packets and if suspicious, maybe do packet inspection.

    That’s the gist I got. The burden has been shifted from the RIAA and now the ISPs have to flag pirates. Otherwise what is the point of this exercise?

    At any rate, I’d like to see a more detailed analysis of what this “agreement” entails.

  7. Welp. Time to fire up ye olden BBS’s and get everyone back to FIDOnet.

    Also Usenet is still alive and well.

      1. This is something i clearly didn’t take into account. Need to figure out a better plan. Especially for those that are rural.

  8. The kids over on TechDirt thought I said something worthwhile, that I will share here too…

    Actually its time to sue the telcos.

    If they want to take actions based on mere accusations while taking peoples money, then they obviously do not need rights of way or easements. I think its time they start paying for every pole, and returning all public funds they used to expand their networks.

    They are there to provide a service to the people paying them, not some lobbyist group with no actual legal standing in the contract between the customers or the municipalities.

    As has been shown time and time again, this process of detecting infringement is flawed on a serious level. To take away a service that has been paid for without any legal basis seems like a slam dunk class action lawsuit against every ISP taking part in this. This would be akin to Ford/GM/Chrysler coming and taking away your car based on a neighbor calling in they saw a blue car speeding and you own a blue car.

    The process which makes every attempt to look fair, limits the responses to these letters to a very select few choices, all of them leaving out the defenses offered legally and ignoring the best answer of misidentification. It is more of the corporations are always right and you must give into them.

    I could see a court ending someones “right” to internet service, but this avoids the pesky hassle of the law being involved at all. This will lead to more things happening at the ISP level that the end customer will end up subsidizing to make work to keep the **AA’s from suing, despite not having the standing to do so.

    I look forward to the FCC explaining how this is all legal and correct, with much spin and feigning ignorance of what is happening.

    IP Rights and Corporate Rights keep trumping the rights of the people. Its time to vote with our wallets, and with lawsuits. There needs to be a clear loud response like the antiSOPA/PIPA campaign that the balance has shifted to far and we are unwilling to accept it any more.

    1. “Its time to vote with our wallets, and with lawsuits.”

      This won’t work, because:

      “IP Rights and Corporate Rights keep trumping the rights of the people.”

      1. They still do not have a right to force you to keep paying for a service that is no longer as advertised.

        They can try to buy off politicians, but all one needs to do is say Obama is behind cutting off your access to Fox News and you have a couple million rabid people, incapable of fact checking, demanding this be stopped.
        The **AA’s lie on a regular basis and I think its time we stop expecting that “behaving” and “play by the rules (that are stacked against us)” and begin to use their own tools against them.

        There is a system for complaints, they can ignore them… it’ll take longer to ignore a few million.

        This is a lobbyist group creating an “Education Program” that is mandatory, your telling me that public outcry can’t beat money? 
        What sorts of groups historically have mandatory “public education” that give a one sided view of the great leader??  November is coming, leverage it.

        This program more than likely will start, they have been working quietly for over a year, but we can make it completely not worth their time.  We can bleed them over and over, a death of 1000 cuts will kill this beast.

        If you can only give reasons to not try, the battle is already lost.  SOPA should have passed, but because people were unwilling to just give up before trying it was stopped. 
        It is better try rather than sit on the couch and complain how this sucks and it sucks that no one is coming to stop it for you.

    2. In the uk at least it’s a human rights violation to remove someone’s Access to information such as the Internet.

      In the UK at least these cases will be going to the European court of human rights. And shouldn’t last long.

      (sorry for terrible repeating sentence structure, the iPhone version of disqualified is horribly bug ridden and so I can’t edit it) *disqus

      1. Human rights are a myth in America.
        Occupy should have made that clear.

        Today it is a system to force “Copyright ReEducation” on customers, what will be next?  Forwarding on messages reminding us it is unpatriotic to not agree with our great leader?
        Some people will scoff at that, I’ll just remind them we have “Free Speech Zones” where our leaders can’t hear or see citizens who disagree with them.

  9. The US already imprisons millions people for trivial drug offenses, locking them up and destroying their lives.  I hardly think anyone will blink because people are being disconnected from the internet.

    1. This line of thought only works if you assume that all men are valued equally. They aren’t.

      Some wield power, some do not – the presence of a tiered ‘justice’ system in America is proof enough of that.

  10. Comcast, Verizon and TimeWarner are all companies that didn’t object to SOPA.  I wonder how long until we can buy Internet service from Google.  I’d pay extra.  I don’t download content from grey sources, for personal, ethical reasons.  But it is pretty clear that the RIAA and MPAA are massive criminal conspiracies.  So it’s hard to blame anyone who doesn’t respect them.

  11. Blah blah blah. Are there any ISPs that DIDN’T agree to this nonsense? I’m ready to change providers.

    1. Unless Ben lomand buys their lines and whatnot from somebody else (and i don’t know how DSL companies work) then mine doens’t, but they’re a localish outfit.

      Needing to do more digging. However i know they don’t throttle torrenting (talked to a real nice tech guy who helped me figure out why my linux box wasn’t talking to their router) and the guy sounded more than a bit disgusted with the idea. ‘We don’t throttle we don’t moniter.’

      If the guy’s right then I lucked out and got a classy ISP I’ll be happy to give business to.

  12. Maybe it’s just me, but here’s a thought.

    Remember when the RIAA was suing people for downloading music? Remember how their lawsuits cast a wide (and in some cases, thoroughly inaccurate) net? Remember how that grandma who didn’t own a computer got sued for piracy?

    There’s absolutely no way this could go wrong like that. Nope. No way, no how. I’m sure of it. :P


  13. Once the ISPs start disconnecting people from the internet, they are going to discover (rapidly) that their billions of dollars of infrastructure is lying around in plain sight. A ladder + a pair of loppers + one disgruntled end user + brownian walk = massive damage to an ISP infrastructure.

    We collectively tolerate Comcasts miles and miles of fiber/coax lines and aggregation points. I wonder where the tipping point would be for the end of that collective toleration.

  14. From the sounds of it, it will be up to individual ISPs to decide how to enforce their “piracy policy” and they don’t have to disconnect people if they choose not to.

    So, basically, the first fool ISP to start disconnecting customers over this is going to find itself out of business while everyone abandons it and flocks to ISPs that aren’t a bunch of RIAA-loving shills. And my money is on absolutely no ISPs dropping people and potentially losing all their customers.

    However, it’s not to say there isn’t danger. ISPs are essentially being made to create a database of your activities on the Internet, and there’s no doubt this information will someday be used against you in a court of law, or as a commdity among advertisers, or as a tool among identity thieves.

    1. That pressure isn’t going to come first from their customer base. The content industry can’t wait to drag rogue ISPs into court. Not enforcing their ‘recommended’ countermeasures equivocates profiteering / encouraging their customers piracy – obviously! Due process be damned!

      iinet is an Australian ISP that refused to forward their users the “infringement notices” it received from the content industry and was already dragged into one such case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roadshow_Films_v_iiNet

  15.  The public needs to wake up and realize this is a war.  The lines have been drawn and war has been declared, one side just doesn’t realize it yet. It isn’t about good use of copyright and bad use of copyright.  It’s about limitless rent extraction versus freedom.  Once the RIAA, the MPAA and the rest of their ilk are dead and burned, then we can talk once again about the rational benefits of IP.

  16. Well not that I would ever illegally download for I’m as pure as the driven snow, but with encryption turned on and with these magnet torrents how would they know what I was downloading…? Tech help here?

    1.  They still know what port your packet is traveling on and where it is going. They can know you ARE downloading, and that may be enough.

      1. With an SSL VPN all packets are traveling to and from your computer over the specified port normally 443. The only thing the ISP could possibly see is jumbled up 1’s and 0’s going to and from your VPN server over 443. They would literally have NO way of knowing what you are downloading unless they cracked the encryption (near impossible) or got access to the VPN Server logs, which is why you get a VPN in a privacy friendly country like Sweden. 

        1. You mean, like people who are arrested for having a glass pipe on their person. No drugs, mind you, just a plain piece of hollow glass. Encryption will quickly become de facto proof of a crime. “If you aren’t infringing. why are you hiding what you are doing?”  GUILTY!!

  17. I guess RIAA’s pants are going to have to be pulled down while the whole world watches in horrified curiosity.

  18. What’s the easiest way to pirate stuff without your isp’s knowledge? Is there a really simple solution?

      1.  Too bad there is no free market in most american cities, only monopolies.

        America, Fuck yeah!

        1.  I almost feel sorry for you city slickers.  I live in rural IL and have 4 available ISPs, not counting a coupla satellite providers.  My ISP has a fine fiber optic network.

    1. I’m assuming the ‘unspoken’ method is fine, as all they can see is the use of said method, rather than the content you’re accessing, unless I misunderstand the technology.

      I’m not sure why we’re not allowed to talk about the ‘unspoken’ method of downloading, but I understand this is the case.

    2. Rent an SSL VPN service from overseas. The red tape they would have to go through to get your logs would be tremendous and not worth a potential copyright infringment. All the ISP could see is encrypted data moving over port 443 between you and your VPN Server. They can be found from 5 – 20/month.

  19. “throttling down the customer’s connection speed and suspending Web access until the
    subscriber agrees to stop pirating.”

    Yes mom…  I’ll stop pirating.. (snicker) Can i have my internets back?

  20. There seems to be some confusion.
    The ISP’s are NOT providing the tracking.
    An “outside” company using super secret tech methods will detect you doing wrong, and send a notice to the participating ISP owning the ip address in question.
    The system will then take various steps all of which assume the report is 100% factually correct and can not be wrong.
    The system is as clear as mud.

    ” There are no new laws or regulations established as a part of this voluntary agreement.”
    But they reserve the right to limit your access speed down to 1 step above DIAL UP if you get bunches of these notices.  So while still collecting payment for your service they will ACTIVELY degrade it based on claims made by unlicensed “investigators”.

    is the outdated press release, and funny they hide their WHOIS behind a proxy registrar.

    ISPs: AT&T, Cablevision Systems Corp., Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.

    Everyone point at the monopoly level players…

    The website repeats the untrue claims that more jobs than were ever in the industry are lost every year, and they are loosing billions of dollars… and yet they are still not out of business…

    Here is what the signed up to do…

    Public Domain answer only works for pre-1923 materials… funny there is a buncha Public Domain since then.
    This also shows the limited responses to the accusations, none of which are useful.
    This is a private system, stacked against consumers.
    Its time to contact those bodies in your areas that control these sorts of companies.
    Get them informed about this “private” agreement to play copyright cop.

    “its JUST education” but they force you to play their game to keep your service from being hampered using various methods.  Anyone willing to let the electric company brown out your house because someone claimed you left a light on while no one was home?

    Want to prove the notice was bogus?  You have to pay THEM $35 to get them to consider it…
    “To request an independent review and avoid spurious claims, there is a
    $35 filing fee, which is waivable by the independent reviewer. ”

    Time to learn about the enemy and prepare a good debunking, then make noise.
    Do not go softly into that good night, kick, scream, and cause them pain for even THINKING they should do this.  Remind local government this is why allowing a provider monopoly access to an area is a bad idea, and they should void those agreements and bring back competition.  Make the ISPs bleed.


  21. It seems that there’s a problem here.  The origninal Safe Harbor laws REQUIRE ISPs to NOT monitor traffic in order to qualify.  Now add a law saying they MUST monitor and it becomes impossible to qualify for Safe Harbor.

    1.  1 – Not a law.
      2 – Not ISP’s monitoring but a private company half funded by the ISPs.

  22. Now that illegal drugs are no longer the focus of enormously expensive police and judicial actions, its time to focus our national efforts and secret service on the public who may have access to copyright-infringing materials and software to strictly enforce movie and music monguls’ stream of profits so that they may continue to occupy village-sized mansions, own luxurious yaughts and throw romanesque parties for the rich and famous on the french rivera. Am I missing something?

    1. That illegal drugs are still the focus of [some of the] enormously expensive police and judicial actions, as well as the enormously expensive [for everyone] and profitable [for the profiteers] prison industry?

  23. Mr. Doctorow, the introduction of this article left me with the impression that the nefarious Cary Sherman has a moustache. However, a quick Google search of his name results in images of a clean-shaven upper lip (along with a calculating smile and cold eyes). 

    As a Moustached American, I realize that the association of ‘villain’ with ‘moustache’ is an on-going problem which we must continually address. However, in the unfolding drama between the Internet and the RIAA, Moustached Americans are clearly on the side of the internet. Rather than providing you with a litany of non-villainous moustache examples, I simply would direct you to one ‘Sparrow, Captain Jack’ as an example of our position on the issue.

    Thank you.

    1. As a Moustachio-American, I oppose both battleborn’s opposition of stereotyping the moustachioed as villains (it helps our street cred) and also his use of the term “Moustached American.”

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