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Copyright associations want enforcement for free

November 13, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

The internet has opened the Pandora’s Box – that everything that can be duplicated – will be. This simple truth will drive up costs for you the consumer. You will pay one of three ways: through the government and the court system (taxes);through your monthly internet access fees paid to your ISP (network operations and infrastructure); or, finally, through higher product costs. More than likely, you will pay all three.

The first generation of technology, copyright protection was easy to target and manage. Organizations such as the MPAA, RIAA, and others lobbied and won governing laws and regulations that ‘taxed’ (in some countries it is defined as a levy) blank tape cassettes and eventually blank CD and DVD products to ‘pay’ for potential infringements of copyright materials. Products that were not taxed (so far) were hard drives, memory cards and Next Gen (NG) Personal Video Recorders (PVR’s) used to record television shows. The time has probably come in which artists and vendors will have to contribute funding for enforcement through sales of their products directly in each jurisdiction they wish to have copyright protection.  That cost would then be passed onto consumers through increases in prices.

Copyright protection costs have skyrocketed. Microsoft has spent millions of dollars attempting to protect its software from illegal pirating around the world. For every dollar that Microsoft has spent, it has required multiple levels of government to assist them in investigating and prosecuting and spending the same if not more in tax dollars. Now it is reaching pandemic proportions.  Around the world, people are file sharing at an unprecedented pace. With broadband access reaching multiple megabits in speed, the time it takes to download complete software packages, video and music is minutes.

The technology exists to track and monitor every packet of internet traffic. Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) techniques are capable of determining what each packet’s payload is, from where it originated ,and what it’s destination is. Hardware is available to monitor segments of the network of upwards of 10 gigabytes per second and faster speeds are already on the drawing board. The back office management of DPI components is complex and requires significant resources to maintain the platform. The next pirate technology race will be creating new encryption methodologies enabling multiple peer to peer application packet transmission. This capability already exists to some degree and will be the next battleground of concern for artists and vendors wanting prevention. The FBI, RCMP and MI5 may not have the resources to fight such tactics and technology, let alone ISP’s and copyright groups. Streaming real time material, like video found on YouTube, would not be affected and they are very active in protecting copyright materials and deleting such materials off their servers.

But who’s going to pay for the infrastructure and monitor it? To scale DPI is an immense task. Costs to monitor, archive, and submit information required for a court of law is in the millions of dollars regionally and billions globally. There are the jurisdiction issues that will need to be determined, along with compatibility of one ISP’s DPI solution with other ISP DPI technology and are they compatible. Procedures alone to ensure integrity of the data for submission into a court of law are a monumental task. There is also the possibility that DPI technology contradicts laws regarding privacy.

New and amended copyright laws are now established in many parts of the world. In the U.K., the Computer Misuse Act is used in concert with existing criminal codes in place. In a discussion with Ruth Shulver, Senior Press Officer of the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard), the Computer Misuse Act is enforced with other international police agencies through the Mutual Legal Assistance process. Challenges such as jurisdiction, extradition and other legal processes are handled through existing protocols and treaties as required. Combined with the existing Copyright Act in the U.K. , this gives the police a variety of tools for enforcement.

In Canada, the Copyright Act (Section VIII – 80) has been updated to include protections of all materials via telecommunications of ANY kind. This provision gives enforcement agencies the tools required to enforce the act through traditional (warrants, complaints, etc.) means to prosecute. Today police don’t monitor every road and highway around the clock enforcing speed limits and charge everyone. They don’t have the resources to do so and they definitely don’t have the resources to monitor every individual with an internet connection. And this is where organizations like the RIAA, MPAA, BSA, ESA and others have washed their hands on the issue of costs except where they have gone to court on a case by case basis, usually against ISP’s and not individuals.

Training of communications engineers for ISP’s and Telecom providers will have to expand to include its data engineers in addition to their experts in Voice tapping. Most of the large telecom providers already have some engineers trained and performing these functions already. If they were required to scale and monitor every internet access they have, it would drive costs significantly higher and those costs would be passed onto the subscriber.

And then there are the reporting issues. Who’s actually going to police the network? Copyright advocates want it monitored 24/7 and have the ISP’s notify enforcement agencies in a three strikes you’re out format. That position is untenable for just about every democratic ISP on the planet. The rule of law is innocent until proven guilty. But copyright associations know they do not have the financial and human resources to combat the problem. It is impossible for any one single vendor, artist or commercial entity to enable internal resources to monitor, track, and log the entire world either.

Governments love to tout that they have the solutions to protect copyright and intellectual property and prosecute those that infringe upon it. Throughout the 1970’s and into the early 1990’s, it was reasonably accepted that a certain amount of illegal copying of materials would occur. Today the pirating and illegal copying of everything from computer programs, hardware and other materials happens in minutes and no one has global control.

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Categories: Business & Strategy
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