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It shouldn't even be controversial. If you're lying about holding a copyright monopoly to something, you're infringing on that work's distribution, and should suffer the same penalties as any other infringer does today. Last week there was a story on TorrentFreak about a copyright monopolist who had gone absolutely insane and sent so-called â€œtakedown noticesâ€ to everybody and their brother, from EFF to TOR â€“ basically anybody with a download page. Itâ€™s a complete mystery why this isnâ€™t a criminal behavior. The fact that it isnâ€™t is why it continues and harms innovation, creativity, free speech, and the Internet. The Swedish Pirate Party had a very clear policy on crimes like this: if you lied about holding an exclusive right to something, the same penalty that would have applied to an infringer of that exclusive right would instead apply to you. This is only fair, after all: you are infringing on the distribution of a creative work by dishonest means. For repeat offenders, or organizations that committed this crime on a commercial basis or commercial gain, like that idiot record label in the TorrentFreak story â€“ they would be declared criminal organizations and have all their assets seized. The individuals doing so for commercial gain would go to jail for a couple of years. The thing is, this should not even be contentious. This is how we deal with this kind of criminal act in every â€“ every â€“ other aspect of society. If you lie as part of commercial operations and hurt somebody elseâ€™s rights or business, you are a criminal. If you do so repeatedly or for commercial gain, direct or indirect, youâ€™re having your ill-gotten gains seized. This isnâ€™t rocket science. This is standard bloody operating procedure. The copyright industry goes ballistic at this proposal, of course, and try to portray themselves as rightsless victims â€“ when the reality is that they have been victimizing everybody else after making the entire planet rightsless before their intellectual deforestation. The irony is that at the same time as the copyright industry opposes such penalties vehemently, arguing that they can make â€œinnocent mistakesâ€ in sending out nastygrams, threats, and lawsuits to single mothers, they are also arguing that the situation with distribution monopolies is always crystal clear and unmistakable to everybody else who deserve nothing but the worst. They canâ€™t have it both ways here. Itâ€™s a matter of incentives, at the end of the day. If thereâ€™s no risk at all in lying and causing pain to other people, along with a very small reward, then sociopaths â€“ like those in the copyright industry â€“ will do so at an industrial scale, accompanied by the most Stalinesque of laughters. This is also the behavior we observe now. There must to be a risk associated with willfully lying and causing injury or damage. Today, there isnâ€™t. And because there isnâ€™t, Google alone receives on the order of thirty millionnastygrams per month. Most or all of them automated at the senderâ€™s end. Thereâ€™s no cost or risk in sending them, after all, and that has to change. The U.S. DMCA â€“ what a horrible mistake that was â€“ does state that somebody sending a takedown notice does so under penalty of perjury. However, that only applies to the claim of representing the person believing to hold the copyright monopoly to the work; not to the claim of actually holding the exclusive right you claim to hold. A bare legislative minimum would be to extend the penalty of perjury to include the actual â€“ not believed, but actual â€“ holding of the copyright monopoly somebody claims to hold. The very least you can ask is that committing a crime such as fraudulent exclusive rights carries a risk with it. Itâ€™s not rocket science. Torrentfreak
In a submission to the Australian Government on the issue of online piracy, the BBC indicates that ISPs should be obliged to monitor their customers' activities. Service providers should become suspicious that customers could be pirating if they use VPN-style services and consume a lot of bandwidth, the BBC says. After cutting its teeth as a domestic broadcaster, the BBC is spreading its products all around the globe. Shows like Top Gear have done extremely well overseas and the trend of exploiting other shows in multiple territories is set to continue. As a result the BBC is now getting involved in the copyright debates of other countries, notably Australia, where it operates four subscription channels. Following submissions from Hollywood interests and local ISPs, BBC Worldwide has now presented its own to the Federal Government. Its text shows that the corporation wants new anti-piracy measures to go further than ever before. The BBC begins by indicating a preference for a co-operative scheme, one in which content owners and ISPs share responsibility to â€œreduce and eliminateâ€ online copyright infringement. Educating consumers on both the impact of piracy and where content can be obtained legally online would be supported by improved availability of official offerings. After providing general piracy statistics, the BBC turn to the recent leaking of the new series of Doctor Who to file-sharing networks which acted â€œas a spoilerâ€ to the official global TV premiere. â€œDespite the BBC dedicating considerable resources to taking down and blocking access to these Doctor Who materials, there were almost 13,000 download attempts of these materials from Australian IP addresses in the period between their unauthorized access and the expiration of the usual catch-up windows,â€ the BBC write. So what can be done? In common with all rightsholder submissions so far, the BBC wants to put pressure on ISPs to deal with their errant subscribers via a graduated response scheme of educational messages backed up by punitive measures for the most persistent of infringers. â€œISPs should warn any alleged copyright infringers through a graduated notification system that what they are doing is illegal and, at the same time, educate them about the law, the importance of copyright to funding content and services they enjoy and where they can access the material they want legally. However. if the consumers do not abide by the notifications then more serious action may need to be taken,â€ the BBC note. Those sanctions could lead to a throttling of a usersâ€™ Internet connection but should not normally lead to a complete disconnection. However, the BBC doesnâ€™t rule that out, adding that such measures could be employed â€œin the most serious and egregious circumstances, as is the case in the United States.â€ While little in the foregoing presents much of a surprise, the BBC goes further than any other rightsholder submission thus far in suggesting that ISPs should not only forward notices, but also spy on their customersâ€™ Internet usage habits. VPNs are pirate tools â€œSince the evolution of peer-to-peer software protocols to incorporate decentralized architectures, which has allowed users to download content from numerous host computers, the detection and prosecution of copyright violations has become a complex task. This situation is further amplified by the adoption of virtual private networks (VPNs) and proxy servers by some users, allowing them to circumvent geo-blocking technologies and further evade detection,â€ the BBC explain. â€œIt is reasonable for ISPs to be placed under an obligation to identify user behavior that is â€˜suspiciousâ€™ and indicative of a user engaging in conduct that infringes copyright. Such behavior may include the illegitimate use by Internet users of IP obfuscation tools in combination with high download volumes.â€ While the BBC goes on to state that â€œfalse positivesâ€ would need to be avoided in order to â€œsafeguard the fundamental rights of consumersâ€, none of this will sit well with Internet service providers or the public. Throwing around accusations of illegal activity based on the existence of an encrypted tunnel and high bandwidth consumption is several steps beyond anything suggested before. Site blocking The BBC says it supports the blocking of overseas infringing sites at the ISP level after obtaining a court injunction. Of interest is a proposal to use a system which allows for injunctions to be modified after being issued in order to deal with sites finding ways to circumvent bans. â€œIt is important to have the ability to get existing injunctions varied by the court when defendants reappear in different guises, a useful tool in the United Kingdom,â€ the BBC writes. Who foots the bill? Who pays for all of the above has been the major sticking point in all Australian negotiations thus far. The ISPs largely believe they shouldnâ€™t have to pay for anything, but most rightsholders â€“ the BBC included â€“ think that the costs need to be shared. â€œIn light of the fact that a large inducement for internet users to become customers of ISPs is to gain access to content (whether legally or illegally), it is paramount that ISPs are required to take an active role in preventing and fighting online copyright infringement by establishing and contributing meaningfully to the cost of administering some form of graduated response scheme,â€ the BBC concludes.