Obeying the laws of the land is not difficult. Most are dumbed down to the lowest common denominator so that doing what the law requires is pretty effortless. The fear of jail or taking money away from you (in the form of fines) is typically sufficient in garnering compliance. Most habitual offenders count on “the odds” for motivation, they have to get from point A to B, speeding gives them extra time (the reward) and the odds of getting caught (the hammer) are slim. When a speeder or reckless driver blows by me, I don’t get indignant, I just get out of their way, knowing that habitual offenders always get theirs in the end.
The same dynamic works for internet thieves. Pirating tunes or movies is theft, no rationalizing or equivocating, it is stealing plain and simple. The excuse that everyone does it, which is wrong, or that those big rich music companies expect us small timers to skim off the top, that is why they charge so much for CD’s, is mere conscious massaging to mitigate culpability. But soon, more eyes may be watching your internet activities:
Internet users who share pirated movies and music online may soon be getting an unpleasant surprise: Warnings from their cable and phone providers that detail alleged copyright infringement and threaten to slow their Web connections if they don’t stop.
The new so-called Copyright Alert System was created by a coalition of major film studios, record labels and Internet-service providers, who agreed to guidelines for identifying and notifying Web users who violate copyrights.
Among the ISPs that have pledged to implement the new policy are Comcast Corp., AT&T Inc., Time Warner Cable Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc.
The cooperation between media and technology companies represents a shift in a relationship that had been a contentious one. Media companies have accused ISPs and computer makers of turning a blind eye when people used technology to make illegal copies of songs and movies. But as illegal movie downloaders started to strain their networks ISPs grew more willing to clamp down.
Figures, ISP’s only care about legalities when their business is being effected. Of course, if the did away with the “all you can eat” concept and went to metered plans like what most phone companies do, then even downloading stolen goods would not be bothersome to them.
On it’s face, this does not appear all the odious to me, and a possible revenue stream for the government (more on that later), but as usual, the devil is in the details. First off, nobody likes being spied on, I like to watch naked midget wrestling but do not care to have that in the public purview. Although if I understand the procedure correctly my proclivities for sans clothed diminutive sized grabbing should still be safe:
Contractors working for the RIAA and its film-industry counterpart, the Motion Picture Association of America, will use software to monitor file-sharing services like BitTorrent. When they find a user offering a copyrighted movie or song for others to download, they will send the user’s ISP a notice that includes the person’s Internet address and other details, including information about the file that’s being offered.
Each time a user is caught offering copyrighted material, that user will get an increasingly strident warning from his ISP. After four such written warnings, the user’s Internet connection might be slowed. Suspected repeat offenders might also be redirected to an educational webpage about copyrights.
Gee, rap my knuckles with a ruler, these guys mean business. For all the moralizing about fighting thievery, this new policy does nothing really to any habitual offender, it offers no real stick, no disruption of service, no reporting to authorities, just a threat of being redirected to an educational web page.
The problem is that casual offenders see nothing happening to habitual offenders so there is no incentive to do the right thing. Having the big media companies suing the offenders is also nuts, too costly, and very rarely would they recoup their legal fees for the process. Since ISP’s will now have a list of those offenders and all the details (dates, times, titles of pirated movies, and bandwidth usage) how about some regulatory arm of whatever government agency that monitors this stuff sending the offenders a ticket in the mail, say for a hundred bucks, for theft of proprietary property. That would get people’s attention. Much like what cities do in installing red light cameras at busy intersections in an attempt to generate revenue (not that I’m for this practice, mind you, but it does happen). All this talk about the deficit and the need to bring in more money, fine those people. They know they should not be doing it, let’s bring some consequences into the mix.
So, is this more government intrusion that everyone rails about? Is this Copyright Alert System a good or bad idea? What about bringing some justice to those that thieve proprietary property over the internet, should anything happen to them? I know less about the intricacies of the internet and how it works then most but clearly understand that just because you can do something does mean that you should or that there are not legal ramifications for that act.