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British ISPs Fail To Defeat Digital Economy Act 184

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-the-music dept.
judgecorp writes "ISPs objecting to the British government's Digital Economy Act have lost a court challenge which argued the Act breaches fundamental rights. There's still room to appeal, but it looks like alleged file sharers will be getting warning letters next year."
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British ISPs Fail To Defeat Digital Economy Act

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  • Race to the bottom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pieterh (196118) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @01:35AM (#35889676) Homepage

    And as the world flattened, and the West lost its historical advantages over the rest of the world, one hope remained. The Internet. Anglophone, agile, it offered a future where the talent and skills of Europe and America could earn their keep in a world starving for digital products. Sure, export all your industrial capacity to Asia. But they'll be importing their digital services from the West. Win-win.

    Except it didn't happen like that. Patents and copyright, originally designed to protect the rights of a few, spread like cancer in the new digital economy. The "rights holders" and their lawyers wielded disproportionate influence over politicians. The newer digital businesses, though larger, didn't focus exclusively on control, lobbying, political influence, and protectionism.

    One by one, the startups failed. The cost and risk of doing business was just too high. The Internet, once a lawyer-free zone, became the hunting ground for a new breed of legal parasite that used Google to search its prey. Society itself, which in the 21st century found itself heavily digitised, became captive to the "rights owners" and their lawyers.

    One by one the digital businesses forced themselves to become involved in politics. It was only in 2024 in Europe, and a full decade later in the USA that the first pro-digital political parties took control of major power blocks. In the 21st century, there was no left, no right. There was only forwards, and backwards.

  • by pieterh (196118) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @01:48AM (#35889774) Homepage

    Note: I really do believe that copyright is as bad as patents. Yes, I release all my software under the GPLv3, which depends entirely on copyright law, but it's a hack. In the ideal digital world, sharing of culture would not be optional. Areas of industry without copyright-like protection - like fashion - are hugely successful. Copyright is a 15th century concept designed to stop the free sharing of information. Copyright originated as censorship.

    To those who will argue, inevitably, that without patent and copyright, people will not produce, kindly either look at history, or the real world. Competing through production is not an option. It takes a Soviet-style destruction of private property to dissuade us to produce. In every study, the more law tries to encourage "innovation" by privatising our culture, the less we produce. This would be obvious to the advocates for such privatisation if they actually produced anything of value, ever, in their own lives.

    Culture and ideas and technology and works of art are "private property" only in the warped mindset of an intellectual property lawyer. I challenge that advocate to invent his own alphabet and language, build his own Internet and browser, and come back when his ability to speak nonsense is not entirely dependent on the culture freely shared by others.

  • Re:Who pays? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrpA (691294) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @01:50AM (#35889802)

    The ISPs won't pay for this. The costs will be passed on to their users as always. And since it's a level playing field, one ISP won't gain an advantage over others.

    What is likely to happen however is that important people will find that their kids activities lead to getting such letters and then maybe the older generation, which really doesn't understand the situation, will start to feel the copyright noose they placed around their own necks tighten.

    That is likely to lead to change, but not before.


  • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @02:07AM (#35889904) Journal

    I disagree, not because people will not produce, but because without copyright, there will be nothing to produce that has any inherent value other than food. Everything else can always be made by somebody else cheaper, and to some extent, even food can....

    The problem is not that patents and copyright are inherently bad. The problem is that copyright should be 14 years with the option to extend for another 14. After you've created something, you should be able to make money on it for a limited period of time, and then it should go into the public domain while people still care about it enough to preserve it. And patent duration should depend on the field. For slow-moving fields, it might be twenty years. For high-tech fields, it should be more like three. And for individual inventors working independently, the duration should be longer than for patents-for-hire.

    If we had no copyrights, there would be no incentive to create movies or TV shows because anyone could get a copy of it and air it for free or post it for free, and then there would be no revenue. Zero. That might be great for theater troupes, but it's crap for anyone trying to do any other sort of acting.

    And don't think for one minute that you could make it up with advertising. If anyone can make it available for free, why would anyone watch an ad-laden copy? Why would anyone pay the creator a thing if they don't have to? Ask any shareware author how many people pay them. You'd be surprised. It's remarkably close to nobody.

    It would also be pretty rough for musicians, because now they would have to live on revenue from live shows. That's great for acts that bring in a lot of people. It means that the people at the bottom, though—the singer-songwriters and small garage bands of the world—would not be able to use recordings to supplement the pittance that they get from club owners.

    So in practice, the lack of copyrights would really screw over an awful lot of good people trying to make an honest living. Basically, you would be reducing every actor, every musician, every computer programmer, every artist to begging for change from people who themselves will likely have no source of income. In effect, the only thing of value will be food, but unfortunately there won't be anyone who can afford to buy it.

  • by alostpacket (1972110) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @02:12AM (#35889934) Homepage
    Not going to debate a philisophical rhetoric, but fashion has tangible goods. It's not a good analogy. Nor is historical precedence where most artists died in poverty. I fully agree that patents and copyright are severely broken and laws are meant to serve the priveleged, but this kind of "all culture should be free" nonsense is bordering on fantasy land. There has to be a reasonable middle.
  • Re:Who pays? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Simmeh (1320813) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @02:19AM (#35889962)

    The ISPs won't pay for this. The costs will be passed on to their users as always. And since it's a level playing field, one ISP won't gain an advantage over others.

    Incorrect. This only applies to ISPs with over ~400,000 users. More ISPs would of supported this, but there aren't many with a lot of users. This act promotes heavy users to migrate to less popular ISPs.

  • by syousef (465911) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @02:23AM (#35889988) Journal

    The problem is that copyright should be 14 years with the option to extend for another 14. After you've created something, you should be able to make money on it for a limited period of time, and then it should go into the public domain while people still care about it enough to preserve it. And patent duration should depend on the field. For slow-moving fields, it might be twenty years. For high-tech fields, it should be more like three. And for individual inventors working independently, the duration should be longer than for patents-for-hire.

    You are essentially arguing that we should be stifling innovation, just more slowly. That is nonsense and doesn't fly. Copyright is an outdated mechanism. A new one is needed that compensates the creator without allowing the creator control or limitation. In the simplest instance you should be able to "sue for your cut". Even that has it's problems but it's a better compromise than limiting usage of a creation.

  • by pieterh (196118) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @02:38AM (#35890066) Homepage

    You seem to be claiming that copyright is the basis for a successful economy. You also seem to believe that society has an obligation to feed its artists, musicians, computer programmers, and actors. Lastly, and most amusingly, you seem to claim that the copyright system currently reward these groups, rather than, for example, executives, lawyers, marketing directors, and CEOs.

    Firstly, economies work (or fail) on the basis of specialization and trade. This is a basic mechanism, like natural and sexual selection are basic mechanisms for evolution. Economies depend on people dividing up larger problems into smaller ones, and trading solutions. You make bread, I'll make beer, we'll trade. Money of course allows abstraction of this trade, and consequent scaling. Copyright plays no roles in this system except to limit its efficiency, and create friction. There is no benefit to society in individuals or groups owning any part of the culture needed. It is in fact the opposite.

    Second, and I'm a computer programmer, but nonetheless: society has no obligation to feed any particular sector except those who cannot look after themselves. Artists, musicians, programmers, writers, and those who would fashion bushes into amusing topiary choose their professions, and do not merit special treatment. The Netherlands tried this. It did, and still does, pay registered artists to produce works. The result is wharehouses filled with junk art. The fact here is that not only do creative people merit no special treatment, but they actually only create valuable works when they are hungry and fairly desperate.

    Third, there is no evidence that copyright law helps these people you care about, just as patent law doesn't help "inventors". All forms of privatised culture benefit only those with lawyers and muscle. This also should be obvious, either from studying history (who actually lobbied to create these laws, starting in the 15th century), or by deduction (any law is only tested in the courts, and since these are civil laws, contested between parties, which party will always win? Indeed, it's the one with more and better lawyers and more taste for lawsuits).

  • Re:Who pays? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrpA (691294) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @02:40AM (#35890080)

    its not fair for companies to have to defend themselves against millions of criminals.

    If a company has to defend itself against *millions* of criminals, then common logic holds that whatever these millions of people are doing it is not, or should not be, a crime.


  • Re:Who pays? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 517714 (762276) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @02:47AM (#35890118)
    The burden always lies, both literally and figuratively, with those at the bottom of the food chain.
  • by syousef (465911) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:23AM (#35890718) Journal

    Copyright is an outdated mechanism.

    Morons on slashdot constantly make that assertion but never actually say why or how things would work without it.

    I see you've read how to make friend and influence people. If you bothered to both READ and COMPREHEND what i had said without throwing around childish abuse, you might have actually come across my assertion that compensating the artist should not be tied to allowing them to control the work. I suggested that the creator should be allowed to sue (or perhaps claim would be a better word) if someone uses their work.

    And even worse, the stupidity of such statements completely destroys massive segments of the world economy and brings a halt to innovation in the technology communities.

    So please, explain in detail how destroying the world economy and creating massive unemployment is an excellent idea.

    That is called a straw man, since I did not assert that we should destroy the economy or any other such drivel.

    The problem is, far too many stupid people say stuff but never stop to actually think what it really means. In this case, beyond meaning you're really stupid, you massive damage the world economy and instantly increase the unemployment, destroying some of the most critical to the economy (small and medium sized businesses).

    You are simply repeating yourself in arguments, insults and strawmen. Saying it twice instead of once doesn't make it any truer.

    Even worse, all too often, the people who make you assertion, are so stupid they don't even realize they are arguing the world should move to socialism.

    Well in amongst the insults here is a brand new straw man. I do not support socialism, at least not in the sense that you use the word. I believe that if people aren't compensated there will be less work done and less things created. I also believe that people SHOULD get something extra for their efforts and creations. I disagree that a centuries old system that relied on the right to make copies is the way to do it. Are you done refuting arguments that were never made, or shall we continue?

    After all, you're arguing everyone should work for free. Either that, or you're first in line to pay $1000.00 to see your next movie. Oh, that's right, you won't want to pay anyone for their work - we should all live in socialist communes.

    Your comprehension skills are very poor. I at no stage said that anyone should work for free or live in a commune. It is you who fails to see that any other system might work and insists that I hold values that I do not and want outcomes that I do not. You should be very careful asserting that others are stupid, as you're not coming across as much of a bright spark: Just an abusive unimaginative troll who needs some classes in comprehension anger management.

    tl;dr: Next time get a clue, stop abusing your opponent and actually argue against your opponent instead of pulling silly straw men out of the air and attacking them.

  • Re:Who pays? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by malkavian (9512) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @05:35AM (#35891054) Homepage

    In exactly the same way car manufacturers are currently benefiting from illegal behaviour (getaway cars, etc.). Oooo.. Look, the Government pays for the locations that muggers use! They're supporting crime!
    Please stop putting forth silly quotes that aren't actually even arguments.
    The real story behind this is that Lord 'Mandy' Mandelson (who had twice been fired from the Labour government for misconduct and corruption that he only escaped being locked up for because he was a prominent politician. Both times he was quietly brought back in by the government of the time when the public outcry faded away.
    Now Lord Mandy went away for a nice little holiday with a friend of his, that just incidentally happened to be in the entertainment industry. When he came back, he put this act on a fast track, basically avoiding most of the debate that would normally be associated with something this intrusive. There are so many things wrong with it on so many levels, an it'll ramp up the cost of internet provision hugely.
    Ok, so I assume you're going to say "Well, it protects the artists".. This would be the artists that did just fine several hundred years ago with a copyright span of just 12 years? Oh, that small limit killed art because nobody would do it with such meagre protection, would they?
    Well, it didn't kill art. It made a rich public domain that everyone could engage in legally.
    Now, however, it's a case that if you've got loads of money (read: entertainment industry), you can hire a lawyer to say that technically, copyright terms are extendible to just shy of an infinite duration (because it's termed to be 'a limited time'. This of course deprives everyone of the public domain. Which is essentially theft. Except you've just used a lot of money to make sure it's got a stamp on it by a judge, making it legal. So, you have the unethical, immoral behaviour practiced by the entertainment industry to deprive people of what used to be a right, but spending a shed load of money (that your average person couldn't even begin to fight against) to make it legal. Then you put more laws in place to protect what you've forced through against ethics.
    This has been shown (several studies) to be socially destructive, yet it's perfectly legal, and they keep on tightening the screws.
    If you think that an arbitrary law is always just and should dictate what the world does, rather than saying "what works, and what is just is what the law should be", then you're rapidly going to be supporting the building of a massive dystopia.

  • Re:Who pays? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2011 @08:18AM (#35891984)

    I have a friend who works for a mid-sized ISP in the States. Last year they fired someone in their TOS Violations group because they'd been using a stale database in their IP research for DMCA takedowns and Subpoenas. It was out of synch with the actual database by a matter of 3 or 4 days, the end result being about a half dozen cases where they had given the police or courts the wrong subscriber.
    In one case in particular, it was a pedophile. They gave some innocent sucker's name to the cops, and he was tried and convicted on that data alone. Well, woops turns out it was really some other guy in town. My friend was one of the people who had to go in and clean things up, and when he found the real account that had been using the IP it had been disconnected the same day the newspaper published the arrest of the innocent guy. The reason given for disconnect? "Moving out of the country on short notice."

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.