Entertainment industry to Japanese ISPs: we'll hand you a secret list of copyrighted works, and you have to block them

As part of Japan's batshit new 10-years-in-jail-for-uploading copyright law, the Recording Industry Ass. of Japan is demanding that ISPs install network filters that spy on all user activity and attempt to detect copyright infringements by comparing every user upload to a massive, secret database of "fingerprints" of copyrighted music, created by Gracenote. Those uploads would be shut off, without review, trial, or notice. One proposal would even require ISPs to send three-strikes-style notices to customers whose connections had been censored, warning them of impending disconnection from the Internet if they continue to trigger positives on the secret, proprietary system. They want ISPs to pay for a monthly software licensing fee for the privilege of running this surveillance/censorship technology.

Torrentfreak reports:

Several music rights groups including the Recording Industry Association of Japan say they have developed a system capable of automatically detecting unauthorized music uploads before they even hit the Internet. In order to do that though, Internet service providers are being asked to integrate the system into their networks.

The system works by spying on the connections of users and comparing data being uploaded to the Internet with digital fingerprints held in an external database. As can be seen from the diagram, the fingerprinting technology employed is from GraceNote, with intermediate systems provided by Copyright Data Clearinghouse (CDC).

Jail For File-Sharing Not Enough, Labels Want ISP-Level Spying Regime


  1. Imagine a world where all the effort, money, time, human resources and technology putt into tyring criminalize people for breaking copyright was instead putt into making quality content that people were willing to pay for…

    1. The irony is that the big name companies do not produce anything. They act as distribution middle men between the market and smaller labels. Take a look at a back cover (if at all possible these days) and you will see that the actual work was maybe 2 or 3 levels removed from the big logo on the front.

      Never mind hollywood, and their accounting practices…

    2. So I guess people just rip the low-quality stuff from pirate sites … umm, not.

      Imagine if all the effort, time, money, and human resources put into violating copyright were directed to artists and creators — we’d be living in a new Renaissance.

      1. Bittorrent could be the next delivery mechanism for content. In some ways, it already is, see Skype and Spotify, who both employ some kind of distributed content delivery, arguably(?) based on the idea of torrents.

        The entertainment industry could use bittorrent technology to deliver content. This makes bittorrent a useful technology, so the effort, time and money that went into “violating copyright” is at least partially being used to create useful technology. Useful even to the copyright owners.

        On the other hand, the big labels are creating nothing of worth. What’s more, they are destroying value for artists and consumers alike by virtue of them being a huge middle man where we can get away with a thin service layer nowadays.

        Technology went ahead and created the future. Big content is holding on to the past. Who do you think is going to win?

      2. Imagine if all the effort, time, money, and human resources put into violating copyright were directed to artists and creators — we’d be living in a new Renaissance.

        Imagine if all the effort, time, money, and human resources that goes to industry bigwigs and lobbying groups went to artists and creators; that would give artists and creators far more money than draconian copyright laws.  And FYI – there’s far more creativity going on now than there was in the Renaissance.

  2. How nice. I wonder how long before someone comes up with a ripping app that changes the “fingerprint” so it gets past the scanner. Days? Hours?

      1. Flip a single bit anywhere in the file and you’ll get a completely different hash.

        It’s utterly trivial — create a site or program that automatically adds a random string of characters to an MP3’s metadata, and hashes become totally useless as a way of identifying a file.

      1. You can but it will be very inconvenient for the end-users. It’s easier for them to setup an encrypted connection.

        1.  Most Windows operating systems handle zip files without much difficulty to the end-user.

        2. How long until we have to hand our private keys over to our ISPs? Governments? How long until encryption will be outlawed? Marked as a terrorist device?

  3. So, when’s anybody gonna believe me that:
    1) the current copyright system will autodefaultdestruct itself because
    2) it gets into direct conflict of us leading our ordinary everyday lives and threatens to massively disrupt/destroy them

    Appeasing some sort of copyright compromise is going nowhere while the MAFIAA lunatics systematically destroy any chance of that.

    1. It’s not like no one believes you but it’s just empty talk. People should suggest some improvement ideas and promote them actively if they want situation to change.

      1. Here’s a practical idea: Stop buying ANYTHING from the content mafia. Starve them of the only power source they really have: money. Once their warchests are depleted they won’t have the strength to lobby corrupt and ignorant politicians anymore.
        I’m sure that if every “pirate” in the world actually stopped buying content, going to cinema etc (as the mafiaa claim they already do) I guarantee you that in 6 months all this ridiculous abuse of customers would become history. Starve the serpent enough and it’ll die on its own.
        After all those years of clever solutions and “improvement ideas” we get this kind of sadistic, arrogant BS. It is quite obvious that they won’t see sense and are unable to change. It’s not like they hadn’t had plenty of chances to play nice. Imo it’s time to show them its the customers who have the power of $$ and not them so they better start behaving… or else.

        1. If you don’t buy their product, they’ll just charge ISPs to find out about it, then charge you for downloading it. This solves the problem in their eyes.

          1.  Until they realize that’s not an effective solution either, and then they’re onto the next, even greater overreach.

            Actually, for my money apportioning a percentage of people’s Internet fee to go to the copyright holders of the files they download would be a fine solution.  Beats the hell out of lawsuits and the threat of disconnection.

            Course, then the problem becomes monitoring people’s downloads without making a tremendous piracy overreach, and verifying that those numbers are legit and not somebody attempting to game the system.

            But still and all, those would be better problems than the current lawsuit/censorship regime.

        2. Idea to kick rich people’s asses is not so fresh. They tired to do so in USSR (former Russia) with no visible results. Also boycotting is not valid method because content mafia depends on those who actually *need* a content and don’t bother how they getting it (while being in socially acceptable frame). As most people do. You should get real on that.

      2. There are no “improvements”, it’s broke. Kaputt. does. not. work.

        If somebody threatens you with a gun, and the gun is loaded with fragmenting bullets, you can’t really improve the situation much by offering him a magazine of non fragmenting rounds, you’ll still end up dead. You improve the situation by seeing to it you don’t get threatened with a gun.

        Copyright is being massively missued as ammunition in a war waged by the guys holding the gun. There is only one solution, you take away their ammunition completely, because any ammunition, will still kill you. And while you’re at it, you also take away their gun if you can.

        And if you don’t disarm serial wrongdoers and deprive them of the capacity to harm you, they will all by themselves drive us all against a wall in their lunatic quest.

        Either you abolish copyright, entirely, with prejudice, or the bad guys will hurt all of us with it a lot more before copyright becomes untenable all by itself. The outcome is the same, abolishment of copyright, but you get to choose how much pain this process will involve.

        1. One can improve a system performance by recreating it using new insights. If it’s realistic that is.

          But you certainly can’t just *abolish* copyright without giving something in its place because creators need security. A new kind of society needed to actually implement that. And also it’s just too naïve to think that crushing some corrupt ideology will automatically generate a bright future. Communists in Russia thought in a similar way and you can see what they’ve got. It is easier to destroy than to create.

          People who created copyright were worried about their own well being when replication of things wasn’t as free. And they were right in it. It’s in one’s best interests to have system that protects you while stimulating to create. But in modern world this system misused because it wasn’t about culture. It was purely technological/industrial thing. They weren’t thinking about the future where culture will be golden goose and almost merged with technology (informational kind) sometimes. So from this point of view system _is_ broken. But not in a way that can’t be fixed. Some new approach will certainly be able to protect creators while stopping them or their distributors from abusing the whole thing. It’s just not voiced clearly yet.

          1.  Two thoughts to fix copyright. First copyright should only be granted to the original creator and cannot be signed away, though the right could be leased for a distributor to use for a period of time. Second, reduce the copyright term to 14 years as originally intended with a second 14 year term  if there are monetary gains to be made.

            As I see it, there is a copyright war going on with each side escalating. The music industry could have solved the problem early on by working with Napster instead of suing it out of existence. They had a second chance with Grokster and sued it, and a few others out of existence. All of that led to the emergence of bittorrent and decentralization of file sharing. It seems that the music industry hasn’t learned. Escalation is not the answer. They can force ISPs to search for a signature, but the battle will escalate through the use of scrambling, encryption and compression.

            I see encypted proxies in Japan’s future.

          2. “creators need security”

            Where can I sign up for this security? I want some of that in my line of work. Who do I bribe?

            If creators want security, they should do work. House painters want security as well, so they have to keep painting houses. Garbagemen keep collecting garbage. Programmers keep programming. This is the only security they can get. Somehow, because music/film has emotional value – mostly marketing: rock star status! – we give them a lot of breaks. They can get away with a monopoly. They get the police to protect their work. And now you’re claiming they need this security?

            Copyright has gone from stimulating creators to create to stimulating suits to grab. Terms are ridiculous: decades after the creator has died, his children are still collecting royalties. How is the original creator supposed to create anything after he’s dead?

          3. @google-0d6cbe498b1d29132fd2cde4167c4dfc:disqus    

            I like to think that having royalties be inherited by the children of the original artist means that the media companies are less likely to arrange accidents in order to save themselves some payments.

    2. Simple, just persist in disrupting and destroying “ordinary everyday lives” until you have redefined the “ordinary” to accommodate constant disruption.

      1. Yeah, because “redefining the ordinary” has worked so well historically, like in any dictatorship ever, that it’s such a splendidly stable and satisfactory idea that we should emulate it.

        1. I believe passports were a temporary measure, as was federal income tax, because no free people would ever put up with such a tyrannical imposition except in wartime.

          A free man used to be  able to cross any national boundary of his own free will, and should he commit no crime, nothing would happen to him.

          The US federal government used to be prevented from taxing private income. That revenue stream was restricted to the states, on the assumption that citizens should have a strong local voice in taxation in a free nation.

          I think most people now believe passports and income tax are “ordinary”, don’t you?

          1. You know, the difference between an income tax or passport and oppressive government is that:

            People like their roads to be maintained, their schools funded, their social institutions working, and so on. Nobody likes paying income tax, and we may not like some of the things it pays for. But you like a whole lot of what it pays for.

            Passports serve as an identification at state borders, and they are directly related to the idea of borders. When things go well between states (such as is the case between US states, EU states etc.) borders are not necessairy, and people find identification and control a hindrance. But when things don’t go well, people tend to find the idea comforting that there is some control over who gets to cross the border. It’s again something people depending on the circumstance support.

            An oppressive government however does not deliver any tangible or perceived benefit.

          2. Mr. Bosch, your post (in reply to mine, below) supports my argument rather well.  You hold that things you personally have been conditioned to believe are “normal” are “not oppressive”. I disagree.

            Any restriction by government of the travel of a person who is harming nobody is oppression.  I have a natural right to wander where I please – so long as I harm no one – and other people’s ugly cowardice and xenophobia are not valid reasons to impede me in any way.

            Less than one hundred years ago, the majority of people in the United States felt exactly as I do about this.  Yet today, passports are taken for granted…  no slave may leave the latifundia until their hereditary masters have approved a formal plea, as shown by the award of a “passport” certificate by said masters.

    3. Not going to happen until everything is a stream. This because most still turn on their tv or radio and shut down their brain. So far the only ones affected are the techies, keeping up with the latest the net has to offer.

      And until the age of cassette and VCR, copyright was something between creator and distributor, not joe on the street and distributor. Hell, when when those products came into being the courts and governments provided private copying loopholes as in their view the issue was too esoteric, and the resources required to enforcement too great, to bother.

      But the net has made both distribution and enforcement temptingly easy. And online copyright is starting to look like a way to end run freedom of speech issues.

      This is likely to not be settled until we have had at least a couple of generations in higher office that grew up with the tech around them, and the time until then will be interesting in the chinese sense…

  4. And the rat keeps hitting the cocaine button: copyright interests are only interested in private control based on secret criteria (formerly known as “impenetrable compensation structures”).

  5. Isn’t Gracenote based on massively co-operatively supplied data voluntarily provided by people willing to go to the bother of writing down and sharing details of CDs and CD tracks so that people playing their legally bought CDs on their home computers could benefit from information the CD companies never thought of providing in electronic form in the first place?

    1. Gracenote started life by taking the user-built CDDB private, yes, but that was at least 10 years ago. Likely their business model includes a desire to be included in any asset-registry the labels might allow to foster more-open music services (or otherwise, perhaps SoundExchange integration as well), but the labels don’t appear to be fostering technologies anywhere near anything like that. Central registries have been proposed for a long time, but the labels and PROs have terminal NIH Syndrome.

  6. The system will be compromised and the privacy of the people who use it will be violated.  It’s inevitable.

  7. Unfortunately, these fingerprinting systems often make false positives. YouTube’s Content ID has been very regularly falsely identifying uploads of the Open Goldberg Variations as copyrighted material: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115449126642487751112/posts/82t9m6mxC3k
    The ironic part of that, of course, is that the Open Goldberg Variations were created exactly to give people a version of the Goldberg Variations that has no copyright. The idiotic (or nefarious) rights holders get to review the claim, and sometimes (like in the link I provided), they insist that the Open Goldberg Variations is their copyright. So Japan’s new law will succeed in blocking public domain uploads as well, not just legitimate copyrighted works.

    1. And they are also slow as hell so connection speed will go down while Internet access prices will skyrocket.

    1. Not him, actually. He’s just the villain. It is not his job to uphold other people’s interests, his job is to squeeze maximum profit out of the public. If it was legal to kidnap kids and sell them for organs, nothing would stop a good businessman without morality other than profit from doing it.

      The issue is with the lawmakers, who supposedly protect the public interest. Suddenly, the public servants are serving the morality-free businessman-villain, while still having all the power given to them by the public trust. It’s like your children’s babysitter giving your children heroin and then pimping them out because her gang-boss pays more than you do. 

      Public servants who have proven corrupted need to be replaced with ones deserving of the tremendous trust given to them. Jail would be nice, too.

  8. Just wanted to point out that, as I recall, the jail term for first-degree murder is seven years.  

    So uploading a file, which is ten years, is 43% worse than murder?

    I would come up with some sort of joke about murdering the people responsible for this craptastic legislation, instead of emailing a friend an mp3, but it’s all so horrific that I can’t bring myself to do it.

  9. The Entertainment Industry: Copyright Fundementalists waging a war on the unbelievers.

  10. wonder how long before police at the insistence of the  japanese entertainment industry storm comiket.
    for some time i have always lauded the japanese copyright system growing up, it was generally permissive (the copyright holder had to chose to press charges and generally wouldn’t) that’s why japan has such a strong doujinshi market which has had the effect of getting more people into creating anime/manga/video game content but generally involved copyright infringement at least at first. when getting started what do people want to make, they wanna make something from something that inspires them and as they get making these they eventually start making NEW things and the industry as a whole gets better. this sort of thing should not only be allowed but ENCOURAGED. i worry that newer prohibitive copyright laws will bring that influx of new creative talent to an end and could spell the end of an industry.

    1. The whole copyright thing is Western ideology. Eastern communities were historically more inclined to collaboration and sharing. It’s negative aspects of globalisation as I see it. Western culture subjugates Eastern. And it actually *can* break uniqueness to create global cultural uniformity. It’s in any society’s interest to share but western societies give individual gains a lot of priority so you can’t resolve copyright issues in Western modality without altering thinking process of entire nations. I believe the best solution is to increase cultural independence while retaining humanistic views. But it’s pretty much impossible for current homo sapiens species.

    2.  Actually the new law that was passed regarding the 10 and 2 year sentences IS permissive. The copyright holder has to specifically press charges for the law to apply (and even then, it’s a “maximum” sentence). This is rarely mentioned for some reason, but tracing the links back to the original article that sourced all the secondary and third articles it was right there plain as day.

  11. When I lived in Japan I used to go to this cute little shop and rent music CD’s for a week for ¥300 (about 3 bucks).

    My itunes got a real workout.

    If the anti-piracy system ever gets good enough to make a difference (which I actually doubt it will) people will just move their sharing offline where these assholes have no way of knowing how much stuff is being copied.

    Good work record industry… You’ve proven yet again why I am happy to pirate your shit til the end of time, guilt-free.

  12. I can’t even fathom the chutzpah required for the RIAJ to not only to force ISPs to harass and kick out their own customers on unsubstantiated evidence, but also to pay the RIAJ for the privilege of doing so. It has to come from balls at least the size Voltron’s truck nuts. Minimum.

  13. Japan is one of the last countries on earth where people still pay for entertainment media including DVDs of shitty Holywood movies and crappy K-pop McGroups. Band needs a paycheck? Release something in Japan… 

    Piracy here is still widely shunned even by young Japanese and I’m sure world’s recording industry robber-barons see it as their last stand. 

    The insipid appeals they print on the bottom of music promo posters is disheartening. Lightly translated, “Think about it! If you download a song, the cycle will be broken and artists will never make music again!”

    Yes, as much as it pains me to say, in a largely rule driven society, people are going to accept such claims at face value.

  14. How will Gracenote know the difference between a promotionally-released single (since most currently-marketed songs are released, legitimately, to music websites as 128kbps mp3s to spur sales) and one that is the same song, but not authorized? 

  15. Doesn’t Gracenote use the precise length of a recording to identify it? It is not a big secret. Never was intended for this sort of use. Would be very easy to defeat.

    But the intentions are good, right? What could go wrong?

  16. We are all just that close from “VPN for everybody” (good-bye fingerprinting) and/or TOR, and/or all torrent and other streams being encrypted.

    The legislation to take away encryption will be a bit of a challenge to pass.

    1. We all know that only terrorists use encryption. Your terrorist activity may make the government suspicious… suspicious beyond reasonable doubt. And you know what that means, right?

  17. A simple math question…
    How much does the RIAAJ pay in taxes?
    How much do their membership pay?
    Is that enough to justify invading the privacy of every other citizen of your country?

    They go on and on about how important they are, and yet themselves pay as little as possible to the Governments they want to “save” them.

    Every new idea they have to “protect” their business model depends on 1 things.
    Imposing it as a cost to the users.
    They want everyone else to protect their copyrights, claiming they are losing kajillions. 
    Compared to kajillions wouldn’t the cost of offering this service seem like a savings?

    This is about them trying to keep their business model the same as it always was and it really is time people start pointing out how much money is being spent on behalf of an industry they doesn’t even pay that much in taxes to enjoy such a favored position.

    1. Governments are rare into protecting privacy and seem to welcome the idea for censorship with minimal resistance. Which makes me think that the entertainment industry’s battle to sell imaginary property at arbitrary prices may be just an excuse.

  18. If an ISP works for the entertainment industry it would make sense to also get paid by the entertainment industry, thus providing their crippled service to end users for free.

    And, of course, ISPs which provide paid service to end users would have no say whatsoever about the content of the rented “pipes” and no job censoring their paying users’ activities.

    It is my hope that the free market will not tolerate the increasingly aggressive diminishing of service quality in this area. We may be reaching a point when it may be profitable to install new infrastructure in order to sell a qualitatively better service at a premium.

    Another possibility is that we’ll see VPN services becoming more popular.

  19. Reading through the linked article, it talks about what the industry wants, but it doesn’t make any hint as to whether or not it’s going to get it. If there’s one thing that DOES get people riled up and likely to act over here it’s invasions of privacy, so I honestly don’t see this happening.

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