Byte Rights: While You Were Out

Maximum PC Staff

Finally, rights holder and ISPs have found a foolproof way to punish you, their nefarious customer. The MPAA, RIAA, etc. have struck a deal with five of the largest ISPs in America on file sharing. It's perfect. No due process, judicial review, or evidence. It assumes you're guilty until proven innocent. And you get to pay for the whole thing! Since these ISPs cover the majority of America in markets, with no competition, you can't even go elsewhere. The new deal is enforced in the terms of service, so if you want Internet almost anywhere in this country, you have to sign away your constitutional rights.

If the rights holders send your IP to the ISP as an offender, you get dinged—no proof required. Several dings and they send all your connections to a landing page, requiring you to call them. Presumably at that point you'd end up talking to incompetent customer support people who don't know a wit about BitTorrent, copyright, or possibly the Internet.

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Further "mitigation" includes compulsory entertainment industry propaganda about copyright passed off as education, and legal alternatives for buying material—we're sure companies pay handsomely to have the false imprimatur of legal requirement given to their shoddy products.

Open Wi-Fi can only be used as a defense once (after which you pay a $35 fee to be allowed to defend yourself), which makes choosing to have an open network a violation itself. It's unclear what cafes and such are supposed to do, other than stop offering Internet.

Normally I like to include some action. Call a lawmaker! Boycott DRM! But this time, there's nothing you can do. You weren't at the table. Sorry. You're going to pay overhead, but that's it. This deal isn't reviewed by the courts, or written by Congress. It's just foisted upon you.

Quinn Norton writes about copyright for Wired News and other publications.

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