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Tuesday, Sep 28, 2021

The confusion about online piracy

New regulations could make your internet slower, but only if you live off-campus

A 2007 report by the Institute for Policy Innovation estimates that music piracy causes some $12 billion lost in annual sales revenue for the music industry.
Add an additional $18 billion in global losses for movie piracy and another few billion dollars revenue lost due to television piracy and we get a very rough estimate of $30 billion lost globally annually due to piracy.
Whether or not we believe in the current system for the dissemination of media to the masses, the law clearly defines piracy as copyright infringement.
What is unclear, is who is responsible for enforcing copyright law on the internet. The user who uploads the pirated media? The user who downloads it? The websites that hosts the data? The owners of the servers that host the website that hosts the data? The Internet service providers who make the entire transfer of illicit information possible? (The list goes on)
The U.S. government has apparently given up on targeting individual people in violation of copyright over the internet. There are thousands of websites hosting pirated media, far too many to investigate and take punitive action against.
A majority of those website’s servers are hosted outside the the borders of the United States.
Instead, the government went after Internet Service Providers (ISPs). They are the only entities that have the resources to ultimately detect and curb the rampancy of online piracy.
As law abiding businesses, the government and media organizations can strong arm ISPs into self regulation.
In recent years, five ISPs--AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon--joined forces with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) and the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) to form the Center for Copyright Information (CCI).
The CCI’s official stance on piracy is that it is illegal, but the average user doesn’t actually know when they are pirating media. Therefore they take it upon themselves to educate the average internet user on the ins-and-outs of copyright infringement.
A quote on their website says, “today, there are many different ways to access digital entertainment like music, movies, TV shows, games and books. With so many options, it can be unclear what’s legal and what’s not.”
In February, the ISPs of the CCI implemented the Copyright Alert System, taking a “six strikes” approach to copyright infringement education.
Accounts identified as downloading pirated material will be sent a successive series of six warnings and educational videos. Each warning will be more strongly worded than the last.
Here’s where it gets serious: if an internet account continues to download pirated material after the warnings- are issued, then the account’s ISP has the authority to severely reduce the speed of the account’s internet connection.
The CCI currently makes no effort to separate users or devices connected to internet account from the account holder.
In a network like Mercer’s, a few campus pirates can cause the entire network of Mercer’s to be throttled back to 200 kb/s, slower than a basic 3G cellphone connection. Needless to say, internet use on campus would be severely hindered.
The CCI told The Cluster that the Copyright Alert System is reserved for residential connections and does not apply to businesses, universities and public libraries. Even then, Mercer’s ISP is Cox Communications which is not a member of the CCI.
The pirates of Mercer can’t relax just yet. According to a statement issued to The Cluster by Mercer’s IT department, “Mercer Information Technology leverages network equipment and software systems such as firewalls, intrusion detection devices and bandwidth managers to block inbound and outbound P2P traffic.”


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