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Posts Tagged ‘P2P’

The moral crossroads

December 2, 2008 Leave a comment

There are two kinds of government. One kind cares about it’s people, and the other treats them as cattle, little more than a resource. I know there are lots of terms for different systems of running everything from a community to a continent, but they all either care or they don’t.

Things have been changing in the UK for a while now, and I’m talking here about the mostly overlooked battle that’s being fought between content providers and anyone with a shred of care for the public. It surfaces occasionally with a sensationalist headline in the media, but the majority of UK citizens don’t realise what the Media corporations are up to. America already has the RIAA pursuing college file sharers and others for ridiculous sums of money using suspect evidence, and just like in many other ways the UK is becoming increasingly like the USA.

I remember having Disco’s and a Headmaster at my senior school, but it now has Prom’s and a Principal. Small changes I would happily live with if we didn’t have to suffer the same shift of power towards big business and the criminalisation of its customers. An article at Ars Technica got my attention and really brings together what’s happening at the moment. It’s a complicated issue that I won’t repeat here, but none of it benefits anyone but the Music corporations and shareholders. Will the artists who create the product see a big improvement in royalties and treatment? By the time the executives and lawyers take their share I doubt there will be much left for those that generate the money.

As the Ars article points out, there are opponents of the Media interests, such as the Open Rights Group. It’s reasuring that someone is fighting for the rights of the public, even if it isn’t our Government. And the question is, why not? Why are ISP’s, Media companies and civil rights groups being left to fight it out? I could almost think ministers don’t want to get involved in an argument that will eventually anger big money or the general public. Or maybe it’s because they don’t really understand this ‘internet’ thing and don’t realise that current teenagers grew up with file sharing an accepted part of social networking.

The thing is, it’s not just the British government that don’t seem to understand the internet. Media companies still try to restrict us with DRM crippled products that are limited to compatible devices and frequently in working life. Some are embracing DRM free media as the way forward, while others desperately cling to the old business models that worked so well before the world got connected. There are new ways of selling content being dreamed up all the time, and some are promising. I’ve written about the subscription model before, where we would all pay a set fee each month and download (and keep) whatever we want from authorised servers of high quality media. Ars mentions the survey where the University of Hertfordshire asked P2P users if they would pay for a legal file sharing service, and 80% said yes. That’s a huge amount of extra legal money for the artists.

The question here isn’t would it work, it’s why isn’t it being worked on now. The UK has the BBC, a corporation that takes our license fee for what now amounts to a much smaller proportion of the total available content. I’m not disputing the quality of content, but if we have an infrastructure to collect and monitor the paying of this fee to one body, why can’t we have one that monitors all content and dishes out the money as appropriate? Would it have anything to do with a loss of power for the few big Media Corporations?

This all comes back to my opening statement that Governments either care or they don’t. They should care enough to stop us becoming a resource for the Big Money’s legal departments. They should care enough to stop our children’s mistakes and habits become obscene legal bills. And they should care enough about the artists to give them a fair deal.

America has a new President Elect who promises a fairer, people centric future. Maybe we could have one of those in the UK.

And a final though. The Federation Against Software Theft is calling for ten years imprisonment if convicted of online commercial piracy. A longer prison sentence for software piracy than rape and murder? Aren’t the priorities getting mixed up here?

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Pirate songs and the ISP pays?

August 13, 2008 Leave a comment

Paidcontent:UK is reporting that a major UK ISP is planning to monitor it’s customers illegal music downloads and reimburse record companies. The article suggests Virgin Media will be using ‘deep packet inspection’ technology from Playlouder to monitor what songs are downloaded, and customers who pay an additional fee will be allowed to download as much as they want from P2P sources.

The story raises a lot more questions than it answers, but that may be the point. I will certainly be interested to hear how this will work, as it would be an interesting alternative to criminalisation of a large slice of the UK’s internet users.

Read the article at Paidcontent:UK

Comments at Ars Technica

Virgin Media: screw the customers, we want the money

June 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Looks like that pillar of integrity and customer care, Virgin Media, is determined to screw its cusomers for everything it can. I’ve previously written about Virgin Media’s plans to send warning letters to its customers whom the BPI accuse of illegal file sharing. It now looks like Virgin Media have agreed to the BPI’s plans with some hints that there’s more at stake than complying with the law. Arstechnica have the full story, suggesting co-operative ISP’s can become ‘significant distributors of digital media’ . Which basically means can make lots of money.

Bill Thompson at the BBC has an interesting comment on this, agreeing with many other analysts that clinging to old business models and prosecuting anyone who doesn’t play ball will eventually fail. Bittorrent rose from the ashes of other content sharing systems that were thwarted, so when Bittorrent becomes demonised and unusable something else will take its place. And the next system will be anonymous, encrypted and untracable.

In associated news, Arstechnica has the news that young P2P users are willing to pay for music, if it’s on their terms. Which means unlimited legal downloads for a set monthly fee. This idea has been around for a while and while it seems to be gaining popularity, is no closer to realisation. My thought is that it’s far too radical for an industry desperately clinging to its outdated business models. It would be nice to be proved wrong though.