Tuesday, October 12, 2010

UPC versus the Music Industry

While I'm no legal eagle, I have dipped in and out of Justice Charleton's ruling in the UPC vs the music industry case. A lot of it went way over my head in terms of references to specific laws, EU directives and the like. However, from reading his description of various technical matters about which I know a fair bit, I think a lot of those went way over the Judge's head.

The story of Willie Kavangh and his visit to that "well-known site for facilitating music piracy called ‘The Pirate Bay’" is quite funny. He recalled looking for the Dark Knight. I wonder if he tried looking for any Linux ISOs or other legitimate material on the site? While TPB isn't necessarily always in the right, they provide a valuable service in hosting stable, reliable trackers for any material. The Aslan story, which has already been shown to be rubbish, is treated like gospel. In all honesty, does Christy Dignam really think that 28,000 people want to steal his badly written tunes?

The round the clock nature of the internet obviously hasn't hit the Justice Charelton's radar either when he states "another careful international survey indicated that between 49% and 83% of all internet traffic, with a night time peak of 95%, is accounted for by peer-to-peer communications." Pity that legal judgement don't have references like academic papers require so we could see exactly who carried out this "careful" study and on behalf of what vested interest. Of course the experts from DtecNet could never be considered vested interests since they have absolutely no relationship to RIAA and IFPI. However it is worth remembering that these would be the same experts who tried to confuse a court in Australia on the use of bit-torrent by targeting a single ISP, the one they happened to be in court against.

At least in point 30 of the judgement, the court did recognize the legitimacy of P2P as a means of content distribution. It also noted in point 32 that any attempt to impose a technological block on P2P will be pointless as users and developers will quickly find workarounds. However, by point 134 this point has been forgotten where a 20 minute delay in coming up with a work around was considered worthwhile. I don't get the Aran Islands analogy, but if he thinks having to phone the operator for find torrents is going to slow people down, when the operator is Google, then he may just have missed the point.

This judgment is the right decision for all the wrong reasons. We should have strong protection of network operators against the actions of purchasers of their service. If I buy a knife in Arnotts and then proceed to stab someone with it, does Alan Dukes (now kind of running Arnotts) get a 20 year jail term? We also need due process and the presumption of innocence. For one corporate entity to be judge, jury and executioner is not acceptable. If EMI or whoever suspect me of filesharing, then go to court, get a warrant and then talk to my solicitor. To be able to disconnect me from the internet on their say alone is not acceptable.

The biggest fear is that on the back of this judgement, emergency legislation will be pushed through the Dáil to close the loophole. Perhaps the easiest solution is for EMI to set themselves up as a religion and then declare P2P to be abhorent in the eyes of their god. Dermot Ahern could then sleep easy knowing that he doesn't need to come up with yet more bad legislation.

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