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Rights Holders Demand Anti Virus Software Spy on ISP Users for Piracy

Posted: 16th Apr, 2010 By: MarkJ
internet copyright piracyThe Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have absurdly called for anti-virus and spam software vendors to include new code that would identify and "limit or prevent" illegal p2p file sharing on computers belonging to broadband ISP customers.

The disturbing idea, which gives us a unique insight into the mindset of how Rights Holders would behave if they lived in a world where they could do anything they wanted, was presented last month (Download .PDF) as part of a wish list style submission to the USA's Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator's (IPEC).

14. Suggest specific methods to limit or prevent use of the Internet to sell and/or otherwise distribute or disseminate infringing products (physical goods or digital content).

The creative community organizations provide specific suggestions related to this topic in section II above. In addition:

* An accelerated review of criminal referrals involving pre-release music and movies should be established by federal law enforcement authorities, as this is one of the most damaging forms of online copyright theft and requires immediate attention and
swift action.

* There are several technologies and methods that can be used by network administrators and providers, including many that are already used for spam and virus protection. These include:
- Technologies to detect, monitor (and filter) traffic or specific files based on analysis of information such as protocols, file types, text description, metadata, file size and other “external” information;

- Content recognition technologies such as digital hashes, watermark detection, and fingerprinting technologies;

- Site blocking, redirection with automated warning systems/quarantine of repeat offending sites;

- Bandwidth shaping and throttling;

- Scanning infrastructure (the ability to subscribe to RSS-style data feeds as sites get new postings of content and links (for linking, streaming, and locker sites); and

- Consumer tools for managing copyright infringement from the home (based on tools used to protect consumers from viruses and malware)
Network administrators and providers should be encouraged to implement those solutions that are available and reasonable to address infringement on their networks. The government should implement policies that encourage, rather than impede, investment and innovation in the area of technology solutions to infringement and counterfeiting.

The dystopia style proposal that Rights Holders could use anti-virus software for the completely unrelated means of spying upon ISP users is patently ridiculous and beyond belief. At least it is for most right-thinking members of the human population, albeit seemingly still an acceptable idea for the creative industry.

We find it hard to believe that any consumer would knowingly agree to install a piece of anti-virus/spam software that would constantly scan their computer for copyright infringing files. Similarly Anti-virus vendors themselves are unlikely to be amenable given that many of the things they block fall into a similar category of Spyware.

One big concern is that some sectors of the current UK and USA governments might actually like the idea. We already live in a country where our website visits and email contacts are monitored and logged, thus building yet more state surveillance into the Internet no longer seems like something that would be considered off-limits.

This is one of the reasons why there has been so much concern over the recently passed UK Digital Economy Act 2010 (DEA). The Act could see innocent users disconnected from the Internet and legitimate websites like YouTube and Google being blocked or hindered. It also makes it extremely difficult to operate a public / open Wi-Fi network without a huge risk of breaking the law.

The MPAA and RIAA have also suggested using existing Traffic Management methods, as employed by many UK broadband ISPs to balance the load on their networks, for the alternative purpose of detecting and monitoring illegal file sharing. Here in the UK Virgin Media is currently trialling CView, a Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) system, which is designed to do exactly that.
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