October 24, 2012
By J.G. Vibes
For years the RIAA and the MPAA have been hunting down Bittorrent users in a scenario that is often compared to the candle maker cursing the invention of electric light, or the horse and buggy operators sabotaging random cars.
Every step of the way, the hive mind of the internet was always a few steps ahead of the powers that have sought to control it. However, things are about to get a bit more complicated for people using bittorrent clients to download copyrighted material.
In an effort to curb online piracy, the MPAA and RIAA have teamed up with five major Internet providers in the United States to launch the Center for Copyright Information (CCI). The ISP’s who have signed on so far are AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon. Since the internet service industry is highly regulated and cartelized, that doesn’t leave many safe havens behind.
Major ISP’s will work with the copyright holders to spy on downloaders and send them multiple warnings, threatening to limit the users internet access. It was even revealed in leaked documents that cutting off acess to popular websites has been discussed as a consequence for repeat downloaders.
In this new internet regulation scheme the government has set up a series of “checks and balances” as they often do, to put people’s minds at ease and to assure the general population that nothing corrupt is taking place. The primary oversight in this situation would be an “independent expert” on copyright to provide an objective assessment of the spying and accusations that will come about as a result of this program.
In a blatant act of corruption, Stroz Friedberg was chosen as the designated “technology expert”, and that he may be, but was also involved with the RIAA’s head lobbying firm for half a decade, bringing an obvious conflict of interest into the picture.
Between 2004 and 2009 Stroz Friedberg lobbied extensively in Washington on behalf of the RIAA. This consulting job earned the company more than half a million dollars ($637,000). Unsuprisingly the CCI has already put forward a statement saying that “Stroz Friedberg has completed its initial review of MarkMonitor’s methodologies and found that the system is accurate and works properly”
The online community is understandably alarmed by this appointment but the mainstream media has been totally silent on this matter, although CNN did recently report on the rollout of this new copyright enforcement system.
According to Torrentfreak, this sentiment is shared by University of Idaho Law Professor Annemarie Bridy, who previously concluded that the copyright alert system lacks transparency and favors copyright holders.
“It’s a disappointing choice, particularly in light of CCI’s professed desire to build public confidence in CAS and the fairness of its processes. It would have been refreshing to see an academic computer scientist or some other truly independent party appointed to fill that important role,” Bridy tells TorrentFreak.
“CCI’s choice of a former RIAA lobbying firm makes it clear that the copyright owner parties to the Memorandum of Understanding were more interested in appointing someone they trust than in appointing someone the public can trust,” she adds.
File sharing through bittorrent is a very mainstream phenomena, and this new witch hunt against downloaders will most likely push people towards using more private means of sharing files.
Following the implementation of this program there will undoubtedly be an increased interest in TOR and similar browsers, which allow people to browse a deeper level of the internet in complete anonymity. It is only a matter of time before people are pushed onto the last free corner of the internet and create an even more decentralized and user friendly way to share files.
J.G. Vibes is the author of an 87 chapter counter culture textbook called Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance and host of a show called Voluntary Hippie Radio. He is also an artist with an established record label and event promotion company that hosts politically charged electronic dance music events. You can keep up with his work, which includes free podcasts, free e-books & free audiobooks at his website www.aotmr.com