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Piracy The Internet Entertainment

Cloudflare Doesn't Want To Become the 'Piracy Police' (torrentfreak.com) 63

Cloudflare is warning that far-reaching cooperation between copyright holders and internet services may put innovation in danger. From a report: As one of the leading CDN and DDoS protection services, Cloudflare is used by millions of websites across the globe. This includes thousands of "pirate" sites, including the likes of The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent, which rely on the U.S.-based company to keep server loads down. Copyright holders are not happy that CloudFlare services these sites. Last year, the RIAA and MPAA called the company out for aiding copyright infringers and helping pirate sites to obfuscate their actual location. [...] In a whitepaper, Cloudflare sees this trend as a worrying development. The company points out that the safe harbor provisions put in place by the DMCA and Europe's eCommerce Directive have been effective in fostering innovation for many years. Voluntary "anti-piracy" agreements may change this. [...] Cloudflare argues that increased monitoring and censorship are not proper solutions. Third-party Internet services shouldn't be pushed into the role of Internet police out of a fear of piracy. Instead, the company cautions against far-reaching voluntary agreements that may come at the expense of the public.
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Cloudflare Doesn't Want To Become the 'Piracy Police'

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  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday April 14, 2017 @11:27AM (#54234597) Homepage Journal
    That would cut way into profits if they had to vet everything. Similar to Youtube, they would rather not curate anything.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That would cut way into profits if they had to vet everything. Similar to Youtube, they would rather not curate anything.

      Exactly - it makes no economic sense for them to be subsidising the film industry's enforcement efforts. I can't see why anyone would even consider this an option.

    • by pr0fessor ( 1940368 ) on Friday April 14, 2017 @11:47AM (#54234729)

      It would take teams of lawyers to verify that all the content that goes through their service is either fair use, the entity has rights, or is the rights holder. Not everything infringing is a torrent and not every torrent is infringing it's also used for backing up/syncing files and software updates. Cost aside there are already plenty of false positives and rights holders that have been harassed with take down notices by riaa or companies that use some flaky algorithm to determine infringement. Cloudflare and any other service can't have the reputation of being the one making false accusations based on a bad algorithm.

      • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday April 14, 2017 @01:42PM (#54235565)
        Let me repeat what I said in the last article about safe harbor provisions. The entire premise behind copyright is that by granting an artificial temporary monopoly, it fosters the creation of more value in creative works than the market left alone would foster. In other words, the economy as a whole has more productive activity (makes more money) with copyright than without. The moment the cost of enforcing copyright exceeds the economic benefit of copyright, that premise is no longer true, and the rationale for copyright existing vanishes.

        Safe harbor provisions exist to insure that this condition of copyright's existence is not violated. Safe harbors make sure the cost of enforcing copyright is borne by the entities benefiting from copyright. The IP holder is making money off copyright. If they're also responsible for paying for enforcement of copyright, then it becomes a simple subtraction problem. If the amount of money they make from copyright exceeds the cost of enforcing copyright, then it's worth having copyright. If the cost of enforcing it exceeds the money they're making, then the entire rationale upon which copyright is based is no longer true, and the economy would be better off simply eliminating copyright.

        If the IP companies are allowed to eliminate safe harbor provisions and shift the cost of enforcing copyright onto other companies, then this subtraction is no longer so simple. The profit shows up in one entity, the costs show up in another. We could wind up in a situation where copyright is a drag on the economy (enforcement costs exceed economic benefit), but we'll never know it because the profit goes to the IP companies while the enforcement cost is borne by the ISPs and data services companies.

        If the IP companies want ISPs and data services companies to enforce copyright, the proper way to do it is for them to pay for enforcement. This will result in the market determining the cost of enforcement. Couple this with the market determining the value of selling copyrighted material, and the annual account balance of the IP companies automatically tells us whether copyright is still worth it, or whether technology has made copyright economically unfeasible.
        • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

          This is an absolutely excellent analysis, thank you.

        • by Agripa ( 139780 )

          The entire premise behind copyright is that by granting an artificial temporary monopoly, ...

          And that temporary monopoly is finite but unbounded according to the court so what is the practical difference between the current statutory time limit and infinite time? Nothing, they are practically the same.

    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday April 14, 2017 @12:35PM (#54235041) Homepage

      Which is why safe harbor rules were made. This doesn't just affect CloudFlare, but any site that takes user content. Even Slashdot. Suppose I were to type a few dozen pages of text into my comment that happened to be from a copyrighted book. That could be a copyright violation and Slashdot might be sued. However, maybe the text comes from my own book which I own the copyright to. Or maybe the author placed the book in the public domain so anyone can post it online. How would Slashdot be able to identify that the text is copyrighted and whether the poster is able to upload said text. For a very large organization, this might be difficult but doable. For smaller companies (or hobbyist websites), it would be impossible and they'd find themselves one lawsuit away from being shut down - even if the lawsuit was groundless.

      This is why we have safe harbor (possibly the only good part of the DMCA). If the RIAA/MPAA spot a pirate site using CloudFlare's service, they send a DMCA notice to CloudFlare. CloudFlare turns off the service and sends the notice to the site. If the site challenges the DMCA notice, CloudFlare turns their access back on. Then, it's a legal battle between the RIAA/MPAA and the site accused of piracy. CloudFlare is completely out of it (unless the court orders them to turn off access for good).

      The MPAA/RIAA wants websites to be the piracy police so that they don't have to do any work. They want the benefits of the DMCA without any of the "costs" (needing to seek out copyright violations). It's pure laziness coupled with greed.

  • by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Friday April 14, 2017 @11:54AM (#54234767) Homepage

    Media companies are making bigger profits than ever, with no signs of it slowing down. Why are they so concerned about the tiny amount of piracy taking place?

    1) Most piracy is done by teenagers and people who are broke and cannot afford to watch content legitimately anyway.
    2) Piracy is a pain in the ass. Paying a few dollars for content is far easier, so that's what most people will do.

    If they want to reduce piracy further, the best way is to make watching content as easy and simple as possible. For example, FOX recently yanked a bunch of their shows from Netflix because they're starting their own streaming service. Most people don't want to pay for multiple streaming services! Their greed is probably going to result in more piracy, as people go "Damnit Firefly is no longer on Netflix. I'm just going to torrent the rest of the episodes." So now instead of making some money, they make none.

    And despite all this, like I mentioned earlier, the industry is more profitable than ever. They're basically yelling "THE SKY IS FALLING!!" on a clear, calm day with blue skies and sunshine.

    • 2) Piracy is a pain in the ass. Paying a few dollars for content is far easier, so that's what most people will do.

      #2 has been the case for nearly two decades now [linuxtoday.com], in spite of technology and bandwidth advancements. The only real difference between then and now is that getting legit content by way of streaming or for-purchase services (iTunes, Amazon, whatever) is drop-easy and dirt-cheap for most folks... so, as you said, most folks don't bother.

      Then again, the MP/RIAA have to remain relevant *somehow*, no?

    • Media companies are making bigger profits than ever, with no signs of it slowing down. Why are they so concerned about the tiny amount of piracy taking place?

      1) Most piracy is done by teenagers and people who are broke and cannot afford to watch content legitimately anyway.
      2) Piracy is a pain in the ass. Paying a few dollars for content is far easier, so that's what most people will do.

      If they want to reduce piracy further, the best way is to make watching content as easy and simple as possible. For example, FOX recently yanked a bunch of their shows from Netflix because they're starting their own streaming service. Most people don't want to pay for multiple streaming services! Their greed is probably going to result in more piracy, as people go "Damnit Firefly is no longer on Netflix. I'm just going to torrent the rest of the episodes." So now instead of making some money, they make none.

      And despite all this, like I mentioned earlier, the industry is more profitable than ever. They're basically yelling "THE SKY IS FALLING!!" on a clear, calm day with blue skies and sunshine.

      This needs to be a +6

    • by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Friday April 14, 2017 @12:56PM (#54235259)

      Media companies are making bigger profits than ever, with no signs of it slowing down. Why are they so concerned about the tiny amount of piracy taking place?

      1) Most piracy is done by teenagers and people who are broke and cannot afford to watch content legitimately anyway. 2) Piracy is a pain in the ass. Paying a few dollars for content is far easier, so that's what most people will do.

      If they want to reduce piracy further, the best way is to make watching content as easy and simple as possible. For example, FOX recently yanked a bunch of their shows from Netflix because they're starting their own streaming service. Most people don't want to pay for multiple streaming services! Their greed is probably going to result in more piracy, as people go "Damnit Firefly is no longer on Netflix. I'm just going to torrent the rest of the episodes." So now instead of making some money, they make none.

      And despite all this, like I mentioned earlier, the industry is more profitable than ever. They're basically yelling "THE SKY IS FALLING!!" on a clear, calm day with blue skies and sunshine.

      Part of the problem is the media company's see each pirated copy as a lost sale; even if that is not true. Online piracy is relatively simple to go after compared to bootlegs; especially if you can offload responsibility to block them to others. You don't have to send out agents to buy bootlegs, find the supplier, get local law enforcement to cooperate, etc. Even if bootlegs represent a larger real revenue loss, going after an easier target is appealing. I guess teh argument would be even if we only get 10% of the piracy numbers in sales that's 10% more than we get now; and we don't have to do much heavy lifting to block a site so why not go for it?

    • They're basically yelling "THE SKY IS FALLING!!" on a clear, calm day with blue skies and sunshine.

      You forgot one thing. The people with open ears that will listen to the media companies are also the same people who have open pockets to be lined with donations and those people also make the political/legal decisions, not the consumer ie you or us. SO it doesn't matter who in your face stupid things are said by the media companies they bring the cash for donations.

    • Yeah, it's a beautiful day outside but what good is that when you can't afford a new solarium for your summer home?

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Media companies are making bigger profits than ever, with no signs of it slowing down. Why are they so concerned about the tiny amount of piracy taking place?

      Because they're trying to sell us on the idea that IP is property. They don't want you to think about it like a free seat at the cinema, they want you to think of every pirated copy as money stolen from them. If they want you to believe it, they have to act like it whether or not they actually think they could have made a sale or not. Even among the people who use subscription services for convenience they are struggling to convince people that sharing is wrong.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Piracy is a pain in the ass. Paying a few dollars for content is far easier, so that's what most people will do.

      I don't know how to break this to you... but that's just plain not true. It might have been true 15 years ago, but now? No way. For TV and movies, at least, piracy is far easier than paying (and it has nothing to do with the money). The automation is better, you can play the files on anything, you get a unified UI regardless of the source (e.g. no separate "apps" for Netflix vs HBO vs Amazon vs N

  • >> Cloudflare Doesn't Want To Become the 'Piracy Police'

    But they will for a price.

    In other news, I didn't want to go to work this week, but I decided I would so I could continue to feed my family.
    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      More like they are being allowed the privilege to continue to not be sued out of existence but complying with these people usually only buys a little time then they sue you out of existence anyway.

  • Yelling at whoever's nearby when the problem isn't is something children and stunted adults do.

    Yelling at an irrelevant person when your car is towed. No, I don't mean literal "yelling", use your brain.

    Yelling at an employee when the vendor did something wrong.

    Yelling at the police when some teenager vandalized your stuff.

    Yelling at whoever you CAN find when your target is ghosts.

    I'm being nice to assume they're incompetent, since the alternative is being knowingly wrong outright. I imagine it's lawyers who

  • Are the RIAA and MPAA planning DDoS attacks on websites that they can't take down by legal means?
  • For no reason of copyright, I block some cloudflare address ranges in my router, because I was getting persistent hack attempts from them. My tolerance for that sort of thing is low. Never might the piracy, it's the script kiddies & other ne'er do wells that I want to see shut down.
  • When it's all set up next week I'll have an open WiFi for whoever needs it, a TOR server to help push that system. And I appreciate what cloudflare is doing.

  • There should not be just one company doing the whole internet's caching. Make it an easy target for censoring loving types.

  • People and organizations that create and distribute IP almost always legitimately earn and report income. This is because it all goes through banks and can be audited. Sure there can be "hollywood accounting" - but the average person working on the creation of intellectual property earns an income and this income is taxed. Piracy reduces that tax take because it reduces the income made from the creation of material. With automation taking almost every type of job except the creative ones, is it much of a

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