ALEX: So finally, I find this website that is called the Center for Copyright information.
PJ: And what’s that?
ALEX: It’s a website that is run by both the entertainment industry and the ISPs, they’re working together. And the deal is, if you feel that you have wrongly received a DMCA notice, you can go to this website, pay $35, and you can appeal it. And if you’re successful, then they will tell your ISP they were wrong, and they retract it, and you shouldn’t have any strikes on your account.
PJ: You found internet court.
ALEX: Yeah, I found internet court.
PJ: So are you taking this case to internet court?
ALEX: I sent them an email and said, hey this person Cayden was wrongfully accused.
PJ: And what did they say?
ALEX: They didn’t say anything, they never got back to me!
PJ: (laughs) Got it.
ALEX: So basically what I found was a completely unaccountable system that was frustratingly opaque. It was maddening. So I decided to try something else.
The entertainment industry wants takedowns eagerly enforced. The ISPs don't want to do work. Ignoring complaints is the predictable outcome. (As is AT&T becoming stricter about copyright enforcement after buying a content company.)
AT&T owns WarnerMedia, formerly Time Warner, which owns cable networks, movie & music studios. Most of the entertainment Americans consume are owned or produced by AT&T or a subsidiary.
Regulatory capture has turned the internet into a de facto monopoly. There won't be any new players because they can be sued or acquired long before they become a threat. Our only hope is for regulations that prevent ISPs and media companies from being under the same umbrella.
So they absolutely have some control/influence over a sizeable portion of the media that we consume, even the segments they don't technically "own".
And make a quick buck on the side too!
Oh, you mean they actually discovered “internet arbitration.” No appeals, no real incentive to be impartial, and a good way to take a lot of peoples’ money.
If you get ignored but you paid, does it mean you're open to make it a small claim case with binding result? Or would that only recover your money (after a fee of $50 or so...)
Small claims courts are typically limited to actual damages; you're not going to get a heavy "punishment" fine added on top. So, yeah, you'll get your $35 back, minus filing costs.
Competition in the form of space internet can’t come soon enough, not to enable pirates, but to ensure normal people have reasonable service levels and alternatives to unfair decisions.
FWIW, many of us don't believe in following or enforcing unjust laws.
† Edit: in most but obviously not all cases
Right now for the majority of people who get a DMCA, there is nothing they can do. There is no functional appeals process, there is no office in charge of handling bad DMCAs. Shy of actually going to court with a lawyer and attempting a suit, if a company files a bogus DMCA then you are boned.
That is an abortion of free speech and property rights, and the Swartz case is a perfect example of that. Most of the papers Swartz obtained were supposed to belong to the public, and yet he was sued into oblivion for DOING NOTHING ILLEGAL. He had no counterclaim short of going to full court with lawyers, something entirely out of his grasp and reach, and because he felt he had no alternatives to having his life ruined, he committed suicide.
It's not a farcical tragedy, it's a flipping shame for the human race.
edit - language
Schwartz was prosecuted by a US Attorney. If anything he is a poster boy of over reach of government.
People are exactly as guilty (and should feel exactly as guilty) download one as downloading the other.
Companies have gone back on their end of that bargain and now we have perpetual copyrights and new works will never enter the public domain. Deal broken, I feel no need to uphold my end by respecting the rights they were granted.
This is where many of the arguments against government regulation break down. If you take government out of the picture, you're still left dealing with massive institutions and bureaucratic regulations. The main difference is that those institutions are even less accountable to the average person than the government, and they have obvious interests in tilting every table to advantage themselves.
Dealing with a corporate bureaucracy is dealing with a regulatory body that's been totally captured by that corporation.
This is only true of uncompetitive markets. If Target refused to sell you clothes because someone made a false copyright infringement claim against you, you would laugh in their face and go shop at any of a thousand other stores. And for exactly that reason they don't even attempt to do things like that.
Moreover, in many cases the regulations are what make markets uncompetitive. Providing internet service to urban areas is highly lucrative and has relatively low costs -- if you could pull $40/month from each of a hundred people just for wiring a single high rise, companies would be lining up left and right to do that. But you aren't allowed to do that without also providing service to an area covering hundreds of square miles, including random farmhouses that are ten miles apart from one another. A competent government would instead solve that problem through direct subsidies to providers who expand into rural areas (or leave it to the market to figure out how to connect sparse farmhouses with some kind of medium-speed directional wireless or similar), and then there would be more competition. But we haven't got that.
Moreover, even when there are actual natural monopolies (like roads or rural internet) that can justify government involvement, what works best in those cases is often for the government to just provide the thing directly rather than trying to regulate some independent private entity with a 96% chance of capturing the regulators.
what you say would be true of (increasingly rare) mom-and-pop shops, but the relationship you use is highly asymmetric and favorable to the large bureaucratic organization, no matter the competitive dynamics of the market. target would be the one laughing in your face, not the customer.
the false dichotomy of preferring one bureaucracy over another because one is private and the other public is silly (in case it's unclear, you should prefer neither).
the rest of what you said is reasonable however. direct provision, direct subsidies, or removal of regulatory barriers in rural access would be better than the convoluted compromise we have now.
Target has a thousand competitors selling substantially identical products for similar prices. Walmart, Amazon, eBay, Kmart, Costco, Staples, J.C. Penney etc. They have no market power.
By contrast, if you can't get internet from Comcast you basically have to move to another state.
really understanding a firm's market power and the competitive dynamics of it's market requires a bit more depth than noting that products are similar.
(there are also different forms of market power, but i'll leave that for another day)
Costco and Amazon have lower unit margins because they charge annually for memberships or Prime. Walmart has lower nominal markups because they don't use promotions, so all their nominal markups are their actual markups rather than regularly getting eroded by promotions.
When it all shakes out, the thing that costs ~$15 at Target costs ~$15 at Walmart.
> why do you think target spends so much on branding?
That's what companies with no market power do. They can't significantly raise prices so they push to drive sales volume.
> really understanding a firm's market power and the competitive dynamics of it's market requires a bit more depth than noting that products are similar.
On the other hand, when they're independently selling the same product for the same price...
i'll just note that branding is first and foremost about pricing power. lower cost forms of marketing are employed to encourage volume.
Buying a branded product is really buying two separate products. One is the commodity and the other is certification of the commodity by the brand. People might pay more for a product certified to be a known quantity than one that isn't, but that isn't the same as market power because certification can be a commodity too. Some random hole in the wall can't compete with McDonald's on being known and consistent, but Burger King and Wendy's can, which is sufficient to keep their prices in check.
Charging more because you're providing something some competitors don't have is not market power when some different competitors do have it.
Regulation is necessary to prevent monopolies, and monopolies by definition make markets uncompetitive. Antitrust regulation protects capitalism from itself. Unfortunately the Antitrust division of the Justice Department has not been doing its job for several decades.
If we pretend geographic monopolies don't exist, maybe
and you're right! you can totally bail and go to the competition... like HughesNet. They're just the same, right?
(also more sarcasm)
Yep, government regulation sounds great. /s
That's an entirely different issue from what I was commenting on.
> And let's not forget, there is no competition - because the ISP has a legal monopoly, also enforced by the government.
You're forgetting that ISPs are natural monopolies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_monopoly:
>> "A natural monopoly is a monopoly in an industry in which high infrastructural costs and other barriers to entry relative to the size of the market give the largest supplier in an industry, often the first supplier in a market, an overwhelming advantage over potential competitors. This frequently occurs in industries where capital costs predominate, creating economies of scale that are large in relation to the size of the market; examples include public utilities such as water services and electricity. Natural monopolies were discussed as a potential source of market failure by John Stuart Mill, who advocated government regulation to make them serve the public good."
> Yep, government regulation sounds great. /s
You're right, it does sound great; especially when you remove the blinders of misunderstanding. Admittedly, it's not entirely without it's own problems, but those problems are best solved without re-introducing the problems that regulation successfully mitigates.
FTA: The bottom line: Very few copyright infringers ever get booted from their broadband provider, pointing to the severity of these cases and the number of steps at which the customer is told they are violating copyright before they are cut off from AT&T's service. Copyright infringers are often illegally pirating hundreds of hours of stolen content, not a song or two from their favorite band.
Using copyright claims to do that sounds like a smart plan.
I get why content rights owners go to the ISP to get at the ISP's customers who are doing things they don't like. I don't get why ISPs play along. It's extra work, and it makes the customer hate the ISP for being the bearer of bad news.
A better analogy would be getting USPS to stop coming to your house when the content creators find out you've been mailing pressed DVDs from your house.
The difference of course is that you could switch to UPS or FedEx. For 72% of the country, you can't switch ISPs.
I can do better than that.
Where I live in the US, if you don't pay your water bill, the government can take your home in a forced forfeiture. They put it up for auction to pay for the water bill. If that water bill is for $800 and the home has $300,000 of equity, doesn't matter, they'll steal it just the same.
The benefit of having a lot of guns behind you and the legal right to use deadly force to steal property.
Edit: I thought there was something more recent, and sure enough there's a new lawsuit from August this year. https://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2018/08/sensing-blood-in-wat...
The problem is ISPs and content providers, or both, are prioritizing their needs over other industries.
Say someone does pirate something, and the cost of that is a few hundred or even thousands of dollars that they wouldn't have bought anyways in most cases or couldn't afford. Well they also use the internet to purchase products, pay bills, and the internet is part of daily life now. Cutting someone off from the network utility because of even large amounts of digital goods being pirated is the wrong approach as it has collateral damage to other products/industries, survival of the person and possibly their family and more.
Should the person pay a fine? Yes. Should they lose their internet? No, unless ISPs and content providers, or if they are one in the same, are more important than every other industry. ISPs/content providers aren't more important than every other industry and ISPs are more of a utility that needs to be always available, other methods are needed, cutting someone off from a needed service to live is cruel and unusual punishment.
> Last week, HBO went dark for the first time ever after a carriage dispute with Dish. Critics of the merger, include the DOJ, alleged that AT&T may have intentionally failed to come to an agreement with Dish, in an effort to steal Dish's Pay-TV subscribers.
I'm used to what's called local loop unbundling in the UK and Europe - which is the removal of the last mile monopoly, and all ISPs simply putting a DSLAM in exchanges. Initially this was localised, and there were smaller local players, but they're now effectively all nationwide.
DSL (with a single provider) is my only option for wired internet at home. Satellite and cellular are both available, but with higher prices and sever data caps.
I have an office 1.5 miles away that also has a cable line that can do ~120Mbps down and ~5 up, but the cable lines end about a mile from my house.
It did exist in some form after the 1996 Telecommunications Act so it happened somewhat with DSL providers, but the laws were narrow, didn't address other issues that arise as a result of the law, and didn't include cable/fiber/etc
So any speed differences between ISPs are mostly down to the quality or not of the ISP's network. Which means roughly Talktalk bad, A&A good, but the sync speed should be the same. :)
You have ISP #1, who have relatively modern infrastructure and bandwidth.
You may or may not have ISP #2, who have antiquated infrastructure they don't maintain that delivers bandwidth circa 2005.
You probably also have ISP #3, who use alternate delivery technologies (wimax, satellite, etc) to deliver low bandwidth at exorbitant prices.
So if Comcast decides not to sell me service, I'm screwed. They could charge as much as they want and to a point I'd just have to suck it up and pay. I assume the reason it isn't multiple times more expensive is because there is some regulation from the PUC capping what they can charge.
Some have more. Some have less. I've never lived somewhere that had only one choice though, so I'm not sure how common it is.
Smart pirates use vpns anyways.
You really were pirating so such positive proof doesn't really exist and you're off the internet for good.
So getting away with piracy by way of plausible deniability is much harder.
And since, for me at least, if I got my internet shut off I would pretty much have to move that's plenty of coercive power.
Or, start your own: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16160394
Its far more likely AT&T cares now because they own content now instead of it somehow pointing to the "severity of these cases", a point the article itself makes several times before walking it back? Also nothing to back up the out-of-nowhere claim that infringers "often illegally pirate hundreds of hours"?
Some of these accounts that were de-platformed completely erased followings that they had developed over years of working that were probably worth millions of dollars to them. To imply that you finding a different ISP is a greater inconvenience than what these businesses had to face is doubtful. Even if you had to completely move to a new home to get service it could be argued that it was still less of an inconvenience.
In any case it is still much better to have multiple providers to possibly be rejected from, as opposed to a residential broadband subscriber who can be completely shut down by a single company. And Gab.com is not a person, so they can locate their service anywhere someone will allow them to host it. The virtual nature of that arrangement is very convenient, and the relative inconvenience of buying a whole new house (in a different city or state, perhaps, since you have to move far enough to find a different ISP) is off the charts by comparison. It seems disingenuous to even try to compare those.
I am someone who believes that private businesses should be free to discriminate with regards to whom they provide service but we are faced with varying degrees of subsidization and I'm not sure where you would draw the line. Another issue is that there is really no non-subsidized alternate choice of note to these corporations at this level in the United States. These large corporations lobby and help craft favorable legislation on a continual bases. There is a very complex and murky relationship between the large corporations in the United States and the various governing bodies.
Now, if my tax dollars helped pay for Twitter's datacenter, then now we have something to talk about. And perhaps in the state where Twitter is, they got tax breaks which amount to effectively a subsidy from the citizenry. In that case I think it's time to take the case to court.
Now I'm not saying it's completely the same, but often it seems like the piracy takedowns set up the playbook to censoring things that often affect lots of peoples' lives.
I'm very vary of corporate censorship since it's an easy next step for politics and the government to start wielding it against the people. And that could be disastrous.
I think OP's point was that if this bothers you and the recent de-platforming of people and websites does not, maybe you should rethink your position. But maybe I misread OP?
This is the most softball approach possible, they're giving you nine warnings before they just stop doing business with you, which is quite a bit nicer than them handing out your info specifically to enable the entertainment industry to take you to court for hundreds of thousands of dollars or reporting you to the FBI.
Imagine a better analogy because telecom service providers have nothing to do with restaurants (or almost any other type of businesses, regulated utilities are pretty different!). It's more akin to a power company cutting off power to someone who they accuse of using the power that they paid for to make counterfeit handbags. It's quite possibly true, but as a regulated utility it should not be up to them to decide. As long as their services are being paid for they should not get to cut people off.
If AT&T was actually concerned with their network being abused they would go after spammers and robocallers, not someone who downloaded an HBO show. This is one of the concerns of telecoms being media companies.
So if AT&T want to disconnect a customer for an arbitrary reason, fine: but they need to make it more clear initially, while considering their utility status.
If a gun store owner knew a guy was buying a gun to shoot up a school, wouldn't you want him to refuse to sell it? Wouldn't you want to hold the gun store responsible for knowingly enabling illegal activity?
(Note that I am using gun analogies in my comments because I feel the positions here are oddly tied to a specific issue, and hypocritical when applied to others. I'm aware these aren't really similar in severity by any means.)
What if AT&T's risk management software scores that its customer is "likely" to commit a petty crime by analyzing his traffic? Turn him off as well?
the ISP is like the roads that you take to get to the gun shop.
Yes the gun shop should prevent you from buying a gun to kill someone.
The people who maintain the road to get you to the gun shop should not decide that you cannot use the road.
Monopolies playing judges and prosecutors is very unreasonable. They shouldn't be able to cut off customers by themselves at all, even non-paying.