The Prime Minister is expected to outline plans today for online pornography to be made available only in homes that ‘opt-in’ to such content, seemingly unaware that everyone has already done so.
Internet user Simon Williams told us, “The moment I hear there was a plan for opt-in, I put my hand in the air. Not that one, that one was busy.”
“If the government is somehow under the impression that this nation’s secret perverts will too ashamed to opt-in to get access to their porn fix, then they are sorely mistaken.”
“If I could double opt-in to get access to the really good stuff, I would.”
Porn filter opt-in
The government has spoken of its disappointment at the 100% opt-in rate, explaining they thought there might be one or two homes that chose not to.
A spokesperson explained, “The mistake we have made is underestimating how thoroughly depraved the general public is, and how tedious masturbation can actually be without access to a myriad of online filth.”
Online decency campaigner Sheila Matthews said, “This new government plan is important because it will keep the minds of our young people pure, and we need to protect the most vulnerable in society from materials that could corrupt their young minds.”
“Yes, my husband has already opted in, but that’s not the point.”
Four major music firms have secured court orders requiring six internet service providers to block access by subscribers to various Pirate Bay websites within some 30 days.
The move is a bid to prevent illegal downloading of copyright music and other material.
About 200,000 Irish users, representing some 8% of all internet users here, access the Pirate Bay sites monthly.
Illegal file-sharing is devastating sales of music, film and TV here with serious consequences for artists, record companies, retailers and employment, it was claimed.
EMI, Sony, Warner Music and Universal had alleged the Pirate Bay activities were causing them some €20m losses annually and sought the orders against UPC, Imagine, Vodafone, Digiweb, Hutchison 3G Ltd and Telefonica O2 Ireland Ltd.
Eircom has already voluntarily blocked access by its subscribers to Pirate Bay and the companies claimed a new statutory instrument means other ISPs must do the same.
The defendants effectively adopted a neutral stance to the companies’ application but some raised issues including alleging overblocking could affect legitimate sites.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern said he was satisfied to make the order in circumstances including that new copyright laws here and in the EU permitted such orders to be made. He said he fully agreed with a previous High Court judge who had said he would make such blocking orders if the law permitted and noted the law now allowed for such orders.
The form of the orders means the music companies will not have to make fresh applications to court if Pirate Bay changes its location on the internet.
The judge noted the companies had accepted they should meet the costs of blocking the Pirate Bay sites. The only contentious issue in the case was about who was liable for the legal costs, he said.
While none of the defendant companies were wrongdoers in the case and had effectively adopted a neutral stance apart from engaging in some legitimate dialogue with the companies, the providers were the conduit through which the wrongful activity conducted by The Pirate Bay has been effected, he said.
“There is no doubt but that this activity has caused, and continues to cause, substantial financial damage to the plaintiffs.”
He considered a fair and proportionate order would mean all of the defendants, except Vodafone, should bear all of their own costs.
As Vodafone had had a substantial input into the terms of a protocol attached to an agreed draft order put before the court, which protocol had “watered down” the terms of that proposed by the companies, he considered the companies should pay Vodafone’s costs up to February 4 last after which Vodafone should pay its own costs.
The companies claimed the Pirate Bay sites hold a vast directory of copyright material being made available to millions around the world. About 25% of that material was music, 20% was film and 15% was TV. It was conservatively estimated about 78% of the music and 90% of the film and TV was copyright and his side’s experts also calculated up to $36m advertising revenue is generated annually for the Pirate Bay sites, they claimed.
EMI Chairman Willie Kavanagh, also chairman of the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA), said the companies application was supported by other bodies representing copyright holders, including the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency (book, magazine and journal publishers); the Motion Picture Association (the film industry); Games Ireland (the software games industry); and the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (music composers and publishers).
Evidence gathered for the record companies indicated files relating to albums of which they hold copyright, including Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball (Sony Music); Green Day’s DOSI (Warner Music); The Killers Battle Born (Universal Music) and Mick Flannery’s Red to Blue (EMI Music) were all available for download on the Pirate Bay website, the court heard.
Videos that take hours to load on a computer; companies fending off hacking attempts; inboxes filled with spam; users that are a little too anonymous for some governments; a network that is too U.S.-centric for Beijing…
These are just some of the reasons that researchers, companies and countries want to change the Internet.
Some companies have already developed a “layer” over the Internet for their own purposes. Skype has high quality demands for voice and video communication and Akamai offers to speed up their clients’ flow through its own network.
In fact, several research teams around the world are working on this issue. In the U.S. there is the National Science Foundation’s FIND project, as well as the GENI and RINA projects. Europe has FIRE, funded by Brussels. China and Japan are in the race too. They all have opposing interests but they do agree on one thing: A network designed for a few hundred scientists cannot be expected to meet the same requirements as a vortex sucking in more than 2.4 billion users — especially when these users connect from multiple devices, do online commerce, and perform surgical operations remotely.
Some researchers actually want to start over with a “clean slate.” John Day, director of the RINA project in Boston, is one of the advocates of this solution. They want to replace the 30-year-old TCP/IP protocol developed by Internet co-founders Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn.
The Internet is no longer a network of networks, but a single big network. In the 1980s, while many companies were creating private networks but the U.S. government released its free, open-source TCP/IP protocol and froze the initiatives that could have led to a thriving Internet — an Internet that would have developed slower but would have been more secure, according to Day.
Day wants to fix a fundamental design flaw: On the Internet, IP addresses confuse identity and location. In other words, we give addresses to machines, not actual people. What may seem like a minor detail isn’t. For instance, it makes the network less “redundant” — whereas the Internet was in fact created to provide this type of redundancy — side roads that can be taken in case the main communication road is blocked.
Today, whenever a company registers with two different Internet Service Providers for security or budget reasons, it will be assigned two separate IP address ranges. If they were merged under one single denomination, we would have a better chance of contacting them. This IP address problem results in all sorts of constraints: allocation of network resources, mobility management…
“If we start over with a clean slate, we could decide to identify contents or services instead of machines, it would be a complete paradigm shift,” says Kave Salamatian, professor of computer science at the French University of Savoie. This would be in the best interest of companies like Google. Whereas they are currently forced to negotiate with telecom providers to locate content servers in their facilities, this could grant them independence. Needless to say ISPs are less enthusiastic.
“Today on the Internet, everything is changing: on the top layer, the apps; in the infrastructure, the 4G and fiber-optic technology. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the IP protocol,” says Salamatian.
On the other hand, he says, we can still continue to apply “band-aids” on the IP. Stephane Bortzmeyer, R&D engineer at France’s domain name administration (AFNIC), believes that the band-aids will prevail, because the “clean slate” underestimate the weight of the existing system.
“We already have so many problems with the deployment of IPv6 – the solution to the shortage of IP addresses in the original Internet – that I can’t even imagine how they could build what would not be a new Internet, but a whole new network!” he says.
Band-aids already exist, such as the BCP 38 standard developed to stop IP address spoofing. But ISPs don’t use it, he explains: “They don’t want to pay for it since it is other companies that will benefit from it.”
The Internet has created an extraordinary new democratic forum for people around the world to express their opinions. It is revolutionizing global access to information: Today, more than 1 billion people worldwide have access to the Internet, and at current growth rates, 5 billion people — about 70 percent of the world’s population — will be connected in five years.
But this growth trajectory is not inevitable, and threats are mounting to the global spread of an open and truly “worldwide” web. The expansion of the open Internet must be allowed to continue: The mobile and social media revolutions are critical not only for democratic institutions’ ability to solve the collective problems of a shrinking world, but also to a dynamic and innovative global economy that depends on financial transparency and the free flow of information.
The threats to the open Internet were on stark display at last December’s World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai, where the United States fought attempts by a number of countries — including Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia — to give a U.N. organization, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), new regulatory authority over the Internet. Ultimately, over the objection of the United States and many others, 89 countries voted to approve a treaty that could strengthen the power of governments to control online content and deter broadband deployment.
In Dubai, two deeply worrisome trends came to a head.
First, we see that the Arab Spring and similar events have awakened nondemocratic governments to the danger that the Internet poses to their regimes. In Dubai, they pushed for a treaty that would give the ITU’s imprimatur to governments’ blocking or favoring of online content under the guise of preventing spam and increasing network security. Authoritarian countries’ real goal is to legitimize content regulation, opening the door for governments to block any content they do not like, such as political speech.
Second, the basic commercial model underlying the open Internet is also under threat. In particular, some proposals, like the one made last year by major European network operators, would change the ground rules for payments for transferring Internet content. One species of these proposals is called “sender pays” or “sending party pays.” Since the beginning of the Internet, content creators — individuals, news outlets, search engines, social media sites — have been able to make their content available to Internet users without paying a fee to Internet service providers. A sender-pays rule would change that, empowering governments to require Internet content creators to pay a fee to connect with an end user in that country.
Sender pays may look merely like a commercial issue, a different way to divide the pie. And proponents of sender pays and similar changes claim they would benefit Internet deployment and Internet users. But the opposite is true: If a country imposed a payment requirement, content creators would be less likely to serve that country. The loss of content would make the Internet less attractive and would lessen demand for the deployment of Internet infrastructure in that country.
Secretive Copyright Negotiations Continue at the 16th Round of TPP Talks
The 16th round of negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) began in Singapore , as trade delegates and private stakeholders from 11 participating countries gather to discuss this the contours of Pacific trade. EFF and many others are deeply concerned about TPP, because it appears to contain an intellectual property (IP) chapter that would ratchet up IP enforcement at the expense of digital rights. The TPP could turn Internet Service Providers into copyright cops, prompt ever-higher criminal and civil penalties for sharing content, and expand protections for Digital Rights Management. The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has announced that they plan to complete the TPP by the fall of this year.
We say “appears to contain” because the negotiations have been carried out in secret: our understanding of the U.S. proposal is based primarily on leaked texts from February 2011. However, there have been some additional leaks, like those following the USTR announcement that the TPP would include exceptions and limitations to copyright. Despite the USTR’s effort to suggest that introducing fair use into the TPP was its idea, the leaked negotiating text made it clear that the U.S. was likely pressured into agreeing to exceptions and limitations as a concession. The leak also showed that the U.S. and Australia opposed any fair use that would extend to the “digital environment.” Thus, it appears the USTR continues to lobby for ever more stringent international IP standards without much regard for the collateral damage to the public interest.
As the deadline for concluding the TPP is fast approaching, it’s likely that they’ll be attempting to resolve disagreements in the IP language this round. Guess who won’t be part of that resolution? Yep: civil society.
What makes TPP—and in fact any trade agreement that carries copyright provisions—dangerous for Internet users is that IP enforcement is only one issue out of many others that are being negotiated within these agreements. Therefore countries may trade away their sovereign ability to make copyright regulations in the future if other terms of the TPP are more appealing to particular powerful industries in their country.
Our digital rights should not be traded away at these secretive negotiations for the benefit of a few corporate interests. Join EFF and more than 28,000 people in sending a message to Congress members to demand an end to these secret backdoor meetings:
A legal action aimed at blocking access by Irish internet users to the free file-sharing website Pirate Bay and related websites has come before the Commercial Court. About 200,000 Irish users access the Pirate Bay site monthly, the court heard.
Four music companies have brought the case against five internet service providers (ISPs) aimed at requiring them block or disable access by their subscribers to the sites.
The aciton is by EMI, Sony, Warner Music and Universal against UPC, Imagine, Vodafone, Digiweb and Hutchison 3G Ltd and all the defendants consented today to the case being fast-tracked in the Commercial Court.
In an affidavit, EMI chairman Willie Kavanagh, who is also chairman of the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA), said the Pirate Bay website operates as “a vast directory of what is overwhelmingly copyright material” that internet users are making available for downloading, copying and onward distribution by other internet users.
That directory indicates what is available and who is making it available, he said. An expert for the plaintiffs had estimated the minimum advertising revenue of the Pirate Bay website at between US$20.5m to US$36m dollars.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said it appeared the defendant companies were “innocent parties” seeking to achieve a constructive end to the litigation and he indicated the best approach may be to have experts for the sides get together to work out a way forward.
The case will involve the first court examination of issues arising from new copyright legislation introduced last February, he noted.
Jonathan Newman, for the music companies, said experts for the sides had met before but he had no difficulty with another meeting.
Counsel said that while another High Court judge, Mr Justice Peter Charleton, had previously ruled he could not make such a blocking order relating to Pirate Bay against Eircom, that company had voluntarily blocked access by subscribers to the site and the music companies also believed the legal situation had changed via a new statutory instrument of last February.
Cian Ferriter SC, for Vodafone, said his client does not condone copyright piracy and was not opposed in principle to what the plaintiffs were seeking but a lot of issues had to be “ironed out”.
Vodafone was concerned there should be an equitable application across the market of any final order made in this matter, counsel said. Vodafone was anxious not to be “singled out” and have its commercial interests affected if others were not and it was happy to have experts engage in seeing if some form of protocol could be agreed, he added.
Gerard Kelly of Matheson, solicitors, for UPC and Hutchison, said his clients favoured a meeting of the sides in an effort to narrow down the issues.
Mr Justice Kelly said he would transfer the case to the Commercial Court but would defer making further directions so as to allow the experts an opportunity to meet. If no agreement was reached, the areas of disagreement should be identified and the case would return to court late next month, he added.