America's six-strikes copyright system is a nightmare

A post on Slashdot by Dangerous_Minds links to a parade of horrors with the new "Copyright Alert System" -- the voluntary six-strikes-and-you're-out copyright enforcement system that America's major ISPs have chosen to enact on behalf of the MPAA and the RIAA. It's trivial to hijack, clobbers small business owners who let people use their Internet access.

Most immediately, it also requires its victims to complete an online copyright re-education camp designed by the major record labels and studios, and as EFF's Corynne McSherry points out, this is a total clusterpoop, a way of ramming inaccurate copyright information into the nation's eyeballs. Unsurprisingly, the gross errors in the mandatory copyright reeducation materials would all improve the profitability of the entertainment industry if they were taken to heart by the public.

"Whenever you create something like a poem, a story or a song, you own it – and no one else can use it without your permission."

Not so: thanks to the fair use doctrine, others can in fact use the works you create in a variety of ways. That’s how we help ensure copyright fosters, rather than hinders, new creativity and innovation.

Equally worrisome: the CCI site directs users to the Copyright Alliance to learn more about the history of copyright. The Copyright Alliance is hardly a neutral “resource”—it was a leader in the battle to pass SOPA and remains a staunch advocate of copyright maximalism.

Finally, CCI is promising to partner with iKeepSafe to develop a copyright curriculum for California public schools. It will be called: "Be a Creator: the Value of Copyright." Based on what we’ve seen so far, that curriculum will do little to help kids understand the copyright balance. Instead, it is going to teach kids that creative works are “stuff” that can be owned and that that you must always check before using that “stuff.”

Even better: the same people who've developed these "educational" materials are cued up to become part of the curriculum in California public schools. Better they should use EFF's much more balanced material.

The Copyright Propaganda Machine Gets a New Agent: Your ISP | Electronic Frontier Foundation


      1. This isn’t the first time the California-centric mantra ‘use’ has been used in six strike discussions. There is a USA outside of California, not everyone has the flexibility in life to just ‘move to san francisco’ and is currently only available in California. Though to be fair, I did recently fly to oakland for a job interview in the attempt.

        1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s noticed the growing trend of “move to SF!” as a solution to every ill. The expense of living in SF and the employment situation there make this a pretty elitist sentiment.

          1.  I do live in San Francisco and use Monkey Brains a wireless ISP. They have wireless access points on several hills and high-points and put a long distance directional antenna on my roof.

            The service is $35 flat and awesome.

            Moving to SF to get this is not a realistic solution… my question is, with the cost of entry relatively low for this setup… no need to bury cable or run wire to each home…

            why aren’t there more businesses setting up these ISP’s?

             I’m considering trying to cobble together a business like this in Valencia, Spain, where I live part of the year. Spain has the highest internet access costs in Europe, because theirs no real competition.

    1. Get your State AG to start asking uncomfortable questions about antitrust and why the public needs to subsidize them with state funds and cheap access.

        1. Then aim lower, ask your Mayor why the city is giving up revenue that could fix all of the problems in the town.  If the providers paid their fair share, the roads could be fixed, the would be enough cops and firemen.

          Imagine what would happen if the city let other providers in, what might the new kid on the block be willing to provide the city…

          1. Its more common than you think, they bought entire states off to block muni internet access for places they wouldn’t wire.  They claimed unfair competition, got the law, and then never rolled out anything.

  1. It is time that the internet was regulated as a utility just like mail, phone, power, water, heat, etc. You can’t get a job without the internet. People can’t do business without the internet. The internet is not this luxury thing, it is a utility we now need to exist in this world.

    It is completely wrong that the only thing standing between somebody’s equal access to the internet is some corporate committee and their arbitration policy.

    Right now I could commit all sorts of crimes over the telephone or snail mail. The government does not have the right to open my mail or listen to my phone calls without a judge’s approval. They can’t just read every piece of mail and listen to every phone call waiting to catch me doing something illegal. Now if they do figure out I’m breaking the law, sure I might go to jail. But I don’t lose my right to make phone calls. I don’t lose my right to mail people letters.

    It’s time we go on the offensive to protect our privacy on the internet and our right to access and bandwidth.

    1. hear!hear!  and i’d quickly add that there is precedent in the states in the form of the (now enfeebled) FCC.  when that department was established (c1934) it was understood that the “airways” belonged to the people and should be administered by their officials.   it would be such a sensible ((therefore unlikely?)) extension of their mandate to the Internet to keep it available, affordable, and free (not as in beer) for the (“well informed electorate”) communications of all the people.

      1. Except that, in the US, every one of those “public utilities” has been under constant attack by privatizers for 30 years.  The very idea of a public utility seems as quaint as labor unions, or a middle class.

    2. Just wait until the ISP who announced they were going to “turn off” (because saying disconnect read wrong in the focus group) people who keep infringing for 24 hours unless they call in.
      Sure hope none of them rely on Voip.  It would be a shame to see the size of the lawsuit because someone who needed to call 911 was unable to because they had to many strikes.

      1. Nah, they’ll never disable 911, but the results of 911 being the *only* number that a lot of people can dial could be interesting and dangerous.

        1. Copyright is now more important than due process, you think cutting peoples connections off to the world even registers with them?

      2. You may be reading too much into what “turn off” means. Maybe it just means they redirect all HTTP requests to a web page saying, “Call us now,” disable all non-HTTP, non-VoIP traffic, and allow all VoIP traffic.

        1. Well as they aren’t being forthcoming with the details of their system, what are we supposed to do?  This open transparent education system and they can’t provide their customers any details about how it all works.

          And if they use a Voip client that uses a different set of ports or isn’t provided by the ISP? 

  2. So can we get a system where if a company (or anyone acting on it’s behalf, to keep themm from using a constant string of shells) that issues six DMCA requests that turn out to be wrong loses their DMCA privileges?   

    1. All monitoring is done by Dtecnet acquired by MarkMonitor acquired by Thompson Reuters (or Reuters Thompson I blame the dyslexia).
      Dtecnet on behalf of HBO demanded Google delist pages on HBO.COM as having pirated material.
      Dtecnet created filesharing in Australia see AFACT vs iiNET.
      Dtecnet send out a take down for a game mod claiming it was an NBC show….

      And this is the company who gets to make accusations you can’t challenge unless you pay $35 and pick 1 of the “approved” responses.

      1.  When I saw that it was going to cost $35 to “appeal” having your bandwidth turned down I just laughed and laughed. How long before AT&T or Comcast or Verizon realizes their numbers for the quarter are going to come up short….but a hundred thousand “appeals” would pop them back over the top?

        1. Oh no the $35 goes to the Arbitration company.
          The costs of this are fully carried 50/50 by the ISPs and the Cartels.
          Which means one wonders if there were deals cut for content to be sold for VOD, lowering costs for some channels, and other cute little cushy side deals so everyone gets what they want.
          Notice Dish got jammed up over their DVR, but no ones sued AT&T or the other participants yet.
          Maybe they agreed to not let people stream, so they captured the market a little bit more and are trying to kill off “competition” that isn’t their partners.

  3. OK so corporations truly own the world.  This fucking sucks, people.  It’s been rising and rising, and now, they’ve successfully extended their grip beyond simple marketing tomfoolery, into actually (and obviously, given the logical deductions of marketing people in the face of regulation begging to be pimped/bribed, into actually controlling the mass of docile minds amongst us.

    They’re pimping the model, and that ain’t cool, brother.

  4. I poked around a bit, seeking MPAA/RIAA-related political contributions. Usually (for, say, defense contractors) hitting Open Secrets or similar sites will turn up a big chunk of information, including donations split out by party. But all I’ve got is 55 individual donors for RIAA and 33 for the MPAA (that’s the $5K limit stuff). In contrast, a company like Honeywell will come up with hundreds of organizations and thousands of individual donors.

    Turns out my search criteria weren’t quite right. The music industry’s top 10 contributors to federal candidates were 100% Democrat. Companies like Warner Music clock in at 91% Democrat, Columbia at 100% Democrat, Sony Music at 89% Democrat.

    But RIAA swung to the Republicans, 54% to 46%. ASCAP is the reverse, 46% Republican to 54% Democrat. 

    So, following the music money: the individuals and top level music-peddling corporations lean overwhelmingly Democrat. But the organizations charged with actually enforcing copyright are much closer to an even split.

    Which is what you’d expect, if you’re assuming purchased influence: the public faces and shiny corporate towers overwhelmingly support those in the executive power position (if you’re cynical) or those who share creative industry “values” (if you’re even more cynical). The donations of those charged with doing the scutwork of influencing policy are more evenly split among those Congresscritters who have to do the actual legislative committee work. This is particularly true of RIAA…you can almost tell who had the majority in Congress in any given election cycle by tracking the party splits of their donations.

    NOTE: The conclusions in this comment are based on a cursory examination of hastily-gathered data and may have no basis in reality. Your mileage may vary. Offer not valid in Nebraska or West Virginia. Contains small facts not suitable for children under the age of 134 months. Banana.

    1.  All you have to do to see political debt payoff is take a look at Obama’s appointments to intellectual-property-related posts, including the copyright czar. All of them are former movie- & recording-industry execs.

      1. I had this big ol’ tangential comment about influence peddling going on, but then…what?

        Are you talking about Victoria Espinel, the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator? She’s been in academia, law, and government her entire career.

          1. OK…citation? Also, you moved the goalpost… “in the pocket” ≠ “former movie- & recording-industry exec.”

            I don’t know one way or the other, but I haven’t found anything about pocketses. So I’m asking.

          2. Her position exists to shove forward the wishes of the **AA Cartels at the expense of some piece of paper with some rights listed on it…

    2. This is the one area where the Republicans are actually the cleaner of the two parties.  But it’s only because Hollywood hates Republicans.  They haven’t forgiven McCarthy yet.

  5. Silly nerds.   Did you really think our corporate masters were going to let you have everything for free?  What matters the opinions of liberal long hairs like the EFF when there’s lots of money to be had as long as we protect the stream.

    Never mind that the “stream” in question is the piss that is raining down on our heads from the tall buildings that lawyers, executives and other filth tell is actually rain.

  6. Imagine if someone started looking at the antitrust implications like they went after Manning or Aaron Swartz.
    A division makes content, another division provides net access, and now the content division gets to decide if you can have internet access based on the claims of a 3rd party using magically perfect technology that can’t seem to exist.
    Oh and tax payers are handing them money to give everyone broadband and allow them rights of way to hang wires.

    Seems like a monopoly that should be broken up.

    And let us not forget the program is only open to **AA members content, all you other copyright holders (they think there are none) can cook up your own secret system of demerits and punishments and try to get the ISPs to play along.

    1. I thought about this a bit more…
      Is this just a membership drive for the **AAs?
      You’ll have to try and protect your property the old fashioned way, unless you pay us to join the club.
      So extorting consumers, extorting companies… its win win for them

      1. You’ll have to try and protect your property the old fashioned way, unless you pay us to join the club.

        You’ll have to try and monetize your property in newfangled ways unless you join the club. (then you can protect it the old-fashioned way, i.e. using coercive laws, and running your own enforcement cartel.)

        1. Except 6 Strikes isn’t law, and actually tries to void the idea of due process and evidence. 
          This is corporations making their own laws with the blessing of the Government.
          Forget High Court/Low Court this is Corporate Court where your always guilty… because they said so.

  7. I really don’t understand what they’re trying to achieve with this scheme. So everyone that knows what they’re doing and has been paying attention gets some sort of proxy service and they ding some computer neophytes that then become non-customers to the ISPs. WTF? What does that do?

    [edit] Hey assholes, make your shit available online conveniently, put ads in it or make it easy for me to pay a reasonable amount for the specific content I want, and I will gladly get my media that way. Comedy Central puts the Daily Show up nightly on the web, adds ads, and I feel absolutely no need to go torrent that shit. On the other hand, I’m not paying for TV cable plus HBO subscription just to watch one show.

    1. As someone who has been in the trenches in the copyright troll wars I have a “unique” viewpoint.
      They are trying to get the general public to accept corporate law.
      They want people to fall into line and accept that someone who gets one of these alerts is a criminal.
      They want to punish cord cutters, and force them back into the fold of paying for 500 channels no one gives a shit about, and then paying for premium channels.
      They want to end people not seeing commercials.
      They want to find the people who get 6 strikes and most likely engage in at least 1 or 2 show trials, and then offer others a “settlement” agreement to avoid the huge fines.

      A large portion of the country has no real choice in provider, or could leave 1 in this plan for another 1 in this plan.  They have to accept this or do without.  Some cities have given monopolies to some of these providers.

      While they are pursing people who dared to share a free to view over the air show, they can demand $150K.  How does this make sense?

      But then they claim to add billions to the economy, yet if this is true why do we have to hand them $150 Million?  Why was that $150 Million from taxpayers as important as keeping the country running…

      1. I’m part of that country that has no real choice in provider. I do, on the other hand, have a reasonable choice in proxy services, as does almost everyone else on the web, if I’m not mistaken. If I had investment dollars to invest, I would be putting them into proxy services at the moment. 

        1. I’m saving up to bet on the first lawsuit.

          Dtecnet had made a series of huge public blunders in their other operations, if they can’t be bothered to check their work before doing DMCA notices why are they allowed to send out strikes.

          They are unable to tell legit from “pirated”.
          They claimed HBO was posting pirated material on

          The funniest thing in all of this is… they are paying snake oil salesmen who sold them crap.  They have wasted time, effort, cash creating their new savior from piracy and the only people seeing a good result are the ones getting paid. 
          The program is horribly flawed. 
          They ruined any chance of looking impartial by stacking the deck with an “expert”.
          Somehow Chris Dodd has his membership thinking that this time this is going to work, that the last 100 stupid ideas they tried and failed were just flukes.

          This one is going to blow up too, and one can only hope that it manages to sink a board member of CCI.

      2. I’m tempted to switch to the local telco over this.

        So, I’m paying $45/mo, and no taxes, for 15/1 for Earthlink via Time Warner (Earthlink’s not on the 6 strikes list, Time Warner is, though).

        It would cost $50/mo, PLUS taxes, for 12/.75 for Windstream, and their reliability is awful, so I’d also need to get a VPS for some stuff that I currently have on my home network.

        Still might be worth it.

        Of course, that doesn’t solve the cell phone problem – Verizon and AT&T are both on the list, I want to switch to a Nexus 4, which won’t work on Sprint (although I’ve considered using it as an Android PDA, and tethering to a dumbphone), which leaves T-Mobile, which in my area is so bad that I might as well just run it as a wifi PDA and not even have a cell phone.

        1. Isn’t the billions we handed them to roll out broadband paying off nicely?

    1. The entire compulsory school system in the US was originally designed in the 1800s to churn out compliant factory workers and consumers for Rockefeller and the like.

  8. I’m going to test the system a bit by downloading open source software via torrent. Let’s see if I’m hit with any strikes…

  9. While I am completely in agreement, “online copyright re-education camp” sounds a little… inflammatory & inaccurate?  It isn’t a “re-education camp,” it is an online course.  & while it may be (accurately) painted as propaganda & even brainwashing, “re-education camp” brings up historical horrors & tragedy that an offensive copy-wrong policy doesn’t really compare to.

    1. You have a group of people who are blaming every bad thing that befalls them on a group.  They pass laws and private agreements meant to punish those people.  They claim nothing created after 1923 can be in the public domain, they are rewriting history to paint themselves in a better way.  They are pushing for the right of Government agents to take your property and search it and demand you prove you own the content contained on it.

      It is easy to see what playbook they are using, and given that they have taken to adding false information to the education system to alter peoples perceptions of them and what the law actually says re-education camps might be offensive but it is fairly accurate for how they wish to change the world.

      They could never do that is what people will tell you… no one believed the ‘Patriot Act’ would lead to the horrorshow we currently have.  If we do not motivate people to stop this now, it will only become worse.  It is one thing for the Government to destroy our rights, it is another to allow corporations to do it.

  10. There’s nothing normal, inevitable, or particularly desirable about the existence of corporate mass media. It’s a 20th century historical contingency built of equal parts industrialism, propaganda theory, and the rise of one-to-many broadcasting technologies.

    The flaw in the RIAA/MPAA current legal strategy is the assumption that if we stop illegally downloading their product, we’ll be so bereft of entertainment that we will gladly purchase/lease it legally.

    There currently exists, on the Internet-as-we-know-it, sufficient high-quality public-domain/CC-licensed/open-access/advertiser-supported/user-financed/free-as-in-free entertainment that no one should have to ever have to resort to purchasing mass-media entertainment product again.

    I think we should let the corporate lawmakers get what they want, and then go ahead and get our entertainment elsewhere. And if we get bored of that, we can enjoy watching the media oligopoly slowly twist in the wind.

    1. Its a shame it hasn’t been a kick in the ass of the Government to stop corporations abusing the public.

  11. “Whenever you create something like a poem, a story or a song, you own it”*

    *Well, we ,The Company, actually own it now, but you’ll get a piece of the profits at a later date. And you don’t actually control what happens to it from here on out, but good job on creating it for us!

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