Friday, November 06, 2009

BERR consultation responses - “Audible Magic”

In reference to BERR response “p2p – Audible Magic – FOI.PDF”

Audible Magic is a company that manufactures and sells network based equipment and software, which aim to reduce copyright infringement. Their business model is based around the idea of technological enforcement of copyright, and this should be kept in mind when reading any such company documents.  

Their observations on channeling may be true, however it's arguable that 'at the time of infringement' is the most successful. 'Before infringement is considered' may be a more effective time, by removing thoughts of infringement before it is considered and lodged in the mind. Secondly, there is ample case-evidence that what rights holders consider infringement is often not considered such under the law. Prohibition and 'channeling', whenever a rights holder decides a use may be infringement, regardless of the actuality of any infringement, is not logical, is not brought up. Additionally, 'timeliness', as the submission calls it, is hardly critically important, except for an intimidation method – an insinuation of a technological 'Big Brother' spying on a user with no regard for the reason.

There are also more analogies to car-metaphors, with speeding tickets. Yet the comparison of speed traps lacks one qualifier; it lacks the mention of circumstances. It equates an automated speed trap, with a manual copyright enforcement system, and a manual speed trap, with an automated copyright enforcement system. What Audible fails to mention, is that their system, were it a radar trap, would stop a vehicle legitimately breaking the speed limit (such as an ambulance, police car or fire engine) just as an automated speed trap would photograph the cars. This is why an automated system requires human intervention to make a judgement call. An automated enforcement system has no understanding of circumstances, and wouldn't work even on criminal cases, let alone whole area where there are substantial non-infringing uses of work.

Accuracies of their systems are also overstated. While the system may be 100% accurate in identifying a work (although no proof is given, and no independent tests have been published that could be found); that doesn't mean that the owner of the work is identified accurately in their systems, or that the circumstances of identification (and thus of use) have been identified accurately. In short, the best that can be said is that the Audible Magic system may be able to identify a song or work out of a list of registered works, but beyond that, there is nothing more than can be said. The comparison to Antivirus software is disingenuous, because such software is generally run at the behest of the end user, and virii give no benefit to the end user, and produce actual, demonstrative harm. No such harm has ever been proven for copyright infringement.

Finally, by page 5, or question 14, it comes to the meat of the response. It becomes a sales pitch for Audible Magic, and its products. What it fails to mention is that their systems do not guarantee any accuracy in their back-end data (who owns what), and does not work for the major P2P system (bittorrent). Similarly they don't work for encrypted connections (VPNs) or people using seed boxes, or even if the 'fingerprint' is changed using something as simple as an archive file (.zip or .rar). They also recommend a graduated response (or 3 strikes) system, presumably using their automated systems to administer each strike. Not only does this remove any judicial oversight, but any human oversight at all.

There is also an interesting interpretation of copyright law. They make the assertion that the way they can differentiate between an infringing and non-infringing use, is by the format used. If it uses bit torrent, it is an infringing use, if it's the BBC iPlayer, it's acceptable. This is at odds with case law, where it's the circumstances of use that matter, not the matter of transfer. This was reiterated in the Lenz youtube case. Youtube is, incidentally, an Audible Magic customer.

They also completely ignore the question of redress for legitimate material being blocked, deflecting instead to a graduated response system. It would seem that they are well aware of the limitations of their systems in dealing with context, and wished to avoid answering the question. Regardless, if multiple accusations are made falsely, due to automated systems (or poorly orchestrated manual ones) that are not actually infringement, then 3-strikes is just as bad, if not worse.

Most egregiously, they claim no false positives. The article on this site, “How P2P Reporting Exposes Media's Ignorance” contains a video, which Audible Magic's own system flagged as infringing. While it contained a segment from a US TV show (Comedy Central's The Colbert Report) the segment was using in accordance with US fair use laws when dealing with copyright (in this particular instance, for the purpose of comment and critique of a statement made by the interviewed guest). The references to the law was even included in the clip. Thus, to claim there are no false positives are grossly misleading. There was also the case recently of Edwyn Collins, who wanted to upload a song he owned the copyright on to MySpace. MySpace refused citing copyright infringement. MySpace uses Audible's system, as their submission testifies.

The overall gist of their submission is that people should use their technology because it's automated and fast. However, the accuracy is questionable, several important and relevant questions were dodged, which shows the companies awareness of their systems limitations. Finally, the lies at the end about the quality of their system and its accuracy put the whole submission into a negative light.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Italian Pirate Preps for EU election

Alessandro Bottoni (english) is the Secretary of the Italian Pirate Party. However, unlike Pirate Parties in other countries, due to the nature of Italian politics, the Italian Partito Pirata is not a political organisation,but a pressure group. Because of this, Mr Bottoni is running under the Sinistra e Liberta (left and freedom) party in the EU elections. The Swedish Pirate Party's declaration that “it is impossible to put the Pirate Party on the left-right axis” is exemplified here, and shows that it can appeal to people on all sides of the spectrum, as the party is a coalition of left-wing parties.

Why are you running with the "Sinistra e Libertà"(Left and Free) party, and not the Pirate Party?

The Italian Pirate Party is, despite its name, a simple "free association of people" (an NGO), not a party. We decided to create an association, not a party, in order to avoid adding yet another party to the already complex Italian political scenario.

I have been asked to run with Sinistra e Libertà by one of its leaders, Gennaro Migliore, and I accepted both to give some media visibility to our ideas and to help Sinistra e Libertà in going over the 4% threshold required to enter the EU parliament.

How do you see your chances for success?

Very near to zero, unfortunately. Italy is a almost fascist country now and I'm facing a strong opposition as a left-wing representative.

What is the method for election in Italy, and what are your targets?

I have been presented in just one of the five electoral districts (north/east: Emilia Romagna, Veneto, Friuli and Trentino) and I'm the seventh in the list.

Sinistra e Libertà (SeL) must pass over the 4% barrier to get its first MEP. Once passed this barrier, the exceeding votes are used to get others MEPs. In order to reach my position (seventh) Sinistra e Libertà must collect something like 55.000 votes. As far as I can see, this result cannot be reached in my area. Last time, all of the "far left" area went just over 40.000 votes.

This scenario can be altered by the voters. In Italy is still possible to vote for a Party and select a specific candidate as well (only for EU elections). In this case, I could collect some more vote. Still, I think it is impossible to get elected.

What's your opinion of Commissioner McCreevy's attempts to extend copyright terms in the EU?

Frankly, I consider such a proposal obsolete and absurd. The current copyright terms are much more protective than what can be logically justified. Said this, I have also to say that the terms of the copyright law are what concern me the least. My main concerns are about the mechanism of the EU copyright law. At the moment, the author can sell /exclusive/ rights to make copies and distribute them. This exclusiveness can be exploited by a malevolent distributor to actually censor the author.

For example: in Italy we have a movie about Silvio Berlusconi (a satirical movie) called "Buonanotte Topolino" ("have a good night, mickey mouse). One of the corporations headed by Berlusconi bought the distribution rights and... did nothing! They did not make copies and did not distributed them.

The movie was actually censured. It disappeared from the market (against the will of its authors). It was a "technical" or "economical" censorship but it was nevertheless an actual censorship.

What about copyright law in general, what would you like to see changed?

Copyright law is an important topic in EU (Just look what just happened with the "telecoms package", for example) but it is not the sole topic. We have very strong concerns about the right of the citizen to express his/her opinion and about half a dozen other rights that are threatened by many different attempts to cancel them. For this reason, our "political agenda" is much wider than what an external observer could expect.

What do you see as your 3 main priorities when you get elected?

a) To create an "observatory" on the EU parliament. Using my right to enter the parliament and the committees, I want to collect as much info as I can and, using the Internet, I want to distribute it worldwide. My main target is to lift the veil of silence that covers much of the EU parliament real activity. Of course, my main interest is on Internet, digital technologies and the like.

b) To create a (small or large) lobby of MEPs interested in technology and science and use it to face the activity of corporation lobbies.

c) To vote for the "net neutrality" of Internet and a few other similar topics. I'm formally committed to defend the "digital right" of the EU citizens.

What sort of support are you expecting from the SeL party, and how well does the party fit with the Pirate Party philosophy?

Actually, quite little support. SeL is a very young and very poor party so it cannot help me very much. I just hope they will organize some public events to present our political proposals.

SeL endorsed the philosophy of the PP completely, as a whole. As a matter of fact, SeL adopted the PP as its "technological wing". From a personal point of view, I'm a communist (since 1976) and I fit very well with the SeL philosophy.

What is the current status of the Pirate Party in Italy?

Quite sad. There is a very small group of activists that still try to organize events and present political proposals but we suffer of a large lack of interest from the general population. We count something like 300 members but we do not have enough volunteers and money to do anything useful.

What activities have you, and the Pirate Party been up to recently?

In 2007, we represented the Internet citizens at the board that Romano Prodi created to assemble a reform proposal regarding our copyright law. The proposal was written and presented to the minister of industry but... the Prodi government crashed and the proposal was abandoned.

Recently, we tried to fire some interest on our activity with a "Pirate Feast" in Rome. We had many journalist and gave a lot of interview. It was almost a success.

The European elections take place early June. With the blocking of the Pirate Bay being debated again in Italy, these elections come at a very interesting time for Italians.

Discussing the EU Election with PiratPartiet

Say “Pirate Party” to someone, and the majority of the time, they'll think of one country – Sweden. The first Pirate Party was founded there January 1st 2006, and in just three short years has risen to become the third biggest party, by membership, in the country. Their youth movement is the biggest of all the political youth groups, with a membership around double that of the next biggest, the Moderate Party's youth group. Sweden is also home to the most popular file-sharing site in the world, with a world-leading internet infrastructure. For these reasons and many others, they have been predicted to gain at least one seat in these elections.

Their primary candidate(english), Vice-Chairman Christian Engstrom, took some time to talk about their election campaign.

The party is on a high after gaining tens of thousands of members over the last few weeks. Why do you think is the biggest reason all these people flocked to the Pirate Party now?

The verdict in the Pirate Bay case came a shock to everybody, and the membership of the Pirate Party tripled in a week. This took us from 14.000 members to 43.000, making us the third largest political party in Sweden in terms of members.

The Pirate Bay verdict came as yet another blow to everybody who likes the free and open internet. Earlier this year, first the FRA law came into effect, which gives the green light for massive surveillance of the net, and the IPRED, which gives the big film- and record companies the legal means to start hunting file sharers en masse. In addition there have been other issues, like the secret ACTA negotiations and the fight around the EU telecom package.

More and more people are coming to realize that the freedom and our civil rights on the internet are under threat, and are deciding to vote Pirate to help turn the tide.

What is the party goal for this election, and how achievable do you think it will be?

Our goal it to take one seat, to get into the parliament. To do that, we need 4% of the votes. Recent polls give us around 5%, but the numbers are very uncertain because of the low turnout that we have seen in the EU elections up until now. However, I feel quite confident we will take at least one seat.

The really big issue is mobilizing our supporters to go and vote. If everybody that agrees with us actually votes for us, we'll get in, and we'll get in big. But I am confident that we can bring the turnout for the election up quite dramatically, especially among younger voters. If we succeed in that, we win.

What sort of result will you be happy with?

I'll be very happy if we take one seat, but if get more, that is of course even better. Not only will it give us more people in Brussels to carry out the work there. It would also send a strong signal to our own government will be that it is on the wrong track and risks losing votes in the 2010 national election as well. But I will consider even one seat a major victory.

If elected, what are your three priorities?

- Respect for our civil liberties on the internet. Postal secrecy, information freedom and freedom of speech should apply on the internet as well as in the rest of society. It is totally unacceptable when politicians (like French president Sarkozy) treat the internet as if it were a toy that can be taken away from the children if they have been naughty, instead of as an important piece of our common infrastructure.

- Reform of copyright law. We want to keep copyright for commercial use, but limit the protection term to maybe 5 years from publication. Non-commercial sharing and use should be legalized completely. Today's copyright legislation has become an obstacle to creativity and innovation, and need to be scaled back.

- A more transparent and democratic EU. Having been a political activist for five years now, I have seen a lot of how controversial points are sneaked through the system in a very undemocratic way. We need to reform the decision making process in Brussels to make it open, predictable and democratic. A first step is to say No to the Lisbon treaty.

At best, there will only be a handful of 'pirates' - what can you hope to accomplish with so few?

I am confident we'll have a great impact, once we get in. There is tremendous interest in all of Europe in what is happening in Sweden right now. I have been giving interviews to the BBC on a number of occasions, to Le Monde, Die Zeit, La Republica, as well as numerous other European news outlets. According to a journalist who phoned me from Brussels to interview me, we are more or less the only subject that is being discussed in political circles there right now.

The politicians from the other parties are beginning to realize that net politics is an important area, and they know that we understand it much better than they do. I am quite sure that they will be very interested in talking to us to learn about the issue.

What's the election procedure in Sweden?

You can vote at any time from May 20 up to election day June 7. You go to a polling station and bring an id and a letter you have received saying that you are allowed to vote. You take a ballot paper marked Piratpartiet, mark one of the candidates with and X (preferably me, of course ;) ), put it in an envelope and hand it to the election officer. That's all.

The ballots are then counted the same evening, and all parties that have received more than 4% take part in the distribution of the seats, in proportion to their votes. Sweden has 18 seats in the European parliament (but 4% is still enough to get the first seat in most cases.

What changes do you think having a 'pirate party' member elected will make to how the world sees the Pirate Party?

This is where the fun part starts! I can admit that our provocative name maybe is a slight disadvantage at exactly the point we are at now (although we would never have gotten to this point without it). Once we're in, however, it becomes one of our greatest assets.

Because we have a name that can't be explained away as "business as usual", the other politicians will have to listen to us. Otherwise they will run the risk of losing seats themselves, which is more or less the only thing that never fails to raise their interest.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

BERR consultation responses - “12”

The respondent is in his late 20s, and an avid watcher of news in this area. Highly technically competent, and University educated.

Or, to put it another way, Me. This was a comment to the team, that was treated as a response.

Consultation analysis overview

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finnish Pirate Party Study

The Finnish Pirate Party has done a small study into the sale of recorded music using the IFPI's figures. Thanks to Kaj Sotala of the Piraattipuolue, I present the English Language version.

As the source, IFPI Finland's official estimates of the overall Finnish music sales (source) have been used directly for the years 1980-2006. Those statistics do not list digital sales, so the figure including digital sales has been obtained from IFPI's separate report, listing 2006 digital sales for IFPI member companies ( ). "Digital sales" includes downloads and streaming, but not mobile sales.

IFPI Finland does not provide statistics for overall Finnish sales in 2007 and 2008, and as of 2007, their statistics for member company sales are given in terms of boxes sold, not units sold. As a result, the unit sales for 2007 and 2008 have been estimated by taking the 2006 box sales for member companies and calculating the percentage change in sales for 2007 and 2008. The 2006 unit sales have then been multiplied with this percentage to obtain a unit sales estimate. Digital sales have been added after that, as those are reported separately and apparently still given in units sold. (The origin of these figures is the Finnish IFPI)

File-sharing, which for music began in earnest with Napster in 1999, doesn't seem to have caused any noticable decline in sales. It is, however, true that the total reported profit from the sales has gone down.

-- Kaj Sotala, Piraattipuolue (Pirate Party of Finland)

Here are the graphs:

Monday, May 18, 2009

How P2P Reporting Exposes Media's Ignorance

With news stories about copyright becoming increasingly common on the major media services of the world, it’s clear that a lot of mainstream media doesn’t understand the laws, or facts regarding copyright. If the media can’t report it accurately, are people, and more importantly politicians, getting the wrong idea about things?

The ‘digital revolution’ has re-jigged a lot of the media hierarchy in recent years. A lot of specialist news media outlets have popped up (we’re one of them!) and they’ve taken a lot of the tech reader-base from mainstream media. They’ve also put things back though, as there is more research done into fringe topics, which can develop into big stories (like Comcast’s sandvining) or people get involved with news in ways they haven’t before (as has just happened at the Consumerist, with a pair of Domino’s delinquents).

However, in a rush to cover these increasingly technical or specialist stories, that turn out to have a major impact, many media outlets are left in a quandry. Do you license and reprint an article, do you write a short piece leading to a specialist site, or do you attempt to write your own story? For most outlets, licensing is impractical, or too expensive. A leader piece covering the main elements and linking to a more detailed article is only really an option for online news sites, so the majority of media is left to try and rewrite. Trying to write an article, though, on a subject you don’t know can lead to problematic and inaccurate reporting though (or to being taken in by blatantly false figures/claims in press releases)

Sometimes errors can be elementary, and come from rushing to research and write. A classic example is in this article from Claremont College’s magazine, where the writer mixes tracker, and torrent; overall though the article reads like a summery of our past spectrial pieces. Perhaps a better example of how things can go wrong is when people with little knowledge on a subject attempt to guide people. Take this Sync piece from last month – it is riddled with inaccuracies and shows little understanding of the subject, right now to the authors assumption that when you’re downloading, you’re not uploading, and that you have to leave a file in a folder to share. Which these things are true of classic P2P protocols, they’re not true for bittorrent (and we won’t even go to the recommendation of BitComet, or the claims of popularity (our research has shown less than 5% of clients in use are bitcomet, and the number is dropping).

Of course, sometimes the tech sites get it wrong too. A few weeks ago, Gizmodo published a piece called “How to use Bittorrent like a Pro”. Amongst things the article advised were the basics like port forwarding, but they also advised not seeding, using bluetack’s lists, and private trackers where possible. We won’t go into the conflict of ‘don’t seed’ and ‘use private trackers’ and certainly not the (useless) bluetack lists, but the writer is at least man enough to admit when he’s wrong, and edited the story after someone clued him in on some of the biggest errors.

Of course, there’s some that just can’t be helped. Worse, as well as often being the most clueless of people, they’re usually the final authority on the news publication. Case in point is Phil Bronstein, until recently editor of the San Fransisco Chronicle, now editor at large of Hearst Newspapers. Last week, he appeared on The Colbert Report, to bemoan newspapers and their declining circulation, often for the reasons given above. However, despite having worked in newspapers for over two decades, he has a poor understanding of copyright, as evidenced in this clip.

If that’s an example of how well his newspapers research their articles, perhaps that’s why people are moving away from them. Worst of all though? His Chronicle office was all of 3 blocks from the offices of Bittorrent inc. – I’m sure they’d have updated him on copyright law if he’d bothered to ask, or it’s a short hop to Stanford, where someone could have filled him in. Of course, there are also those that just want to distort a story, to make ‘good copy’ – nothing’s going to help them.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

BERR consultation responses - “04”

In reference to BERR response “p2p – 04 – FOI.PDF”

The respondent is again clear and concise. This is a fact that appears to be common amongst the private respondents. The level of in-depth technical knowledge shown is not great, but at least a personal experience with the technologies is evident.

Concerns raised are over the legality of such proposals, with reference to data protection laws. This is an important issue to remember – the groups such as the MPAA, IFPI, BVA et al. are private companies, not any form of government/local authority employees. They are private companies that exist only to further the interests of their members. They don't exist to deal with consumers justly, or any other philanthropic aim, their only aim is to enable their member companies to have the greatest income possible. As such, the prospect of such a company gaining access to the personal individuals of ordinary citizens without a court order or any sort of balanced judicial process is worrying in the extreme, as has been widely observed with Davenport Lyons and their obtaining of Norwich Pharmacal orders (which will be discussed further with Davenport Lyons' response)

This issue of encryption being used for heavy users is a valid point. As this is mostly a civil issue, it is usually down to companies, rather than law enforcement agencies to track down alleged infringements. AS such they have no power to interfere, or intercept private encrypted communications, so for plans such as those proposed to be effective, it would require either the criminalisation of a civil issue, or for private companies to be given laxer standards for obtaining data than even police forces currently have. Such an example recently came into force in Sweden, with their implementation of the IPRED directive.

The final points made were that any such proposals will adversely affect ISPs, but at greatest disadvantage will be the small ones. Without the large economies of scale, they rely on delivering a good product, with good service. When the profitable users start being put off, for whatever reason, It will be the large ISPs that have massively oversold their capacities (see this report for the disparity between advertised speed and actual speed received by customers as a result of overselling) and can afford to lose customers, leaving behind the light users.

Consultation analysis overview

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Good and bad UPS experiances

It's not often That Neuron2Neuron goes off the Peer2Peer/technology track much, but this I just have to share, as it relates, in a way. It's about UPS, who is supposed to be delivering a book, that will be reviewed on TorrentFreak. The book will be reviewed by TorrentFreak's US office (which is mainly the research office) so I'll give it over to them for the lowdown.
The book comes from Oxford University Press, and was shipped from New York. The book was supposed to have been shipped 2 weeks ago, so after contacting the author (he approached torrentfreak) they went to ship it out again, and this time gave Ben a tracking number. Alas, in the address, they ommitted the unit number (the office is located in a 40 unit park, in Metro Atlanta). The best I could hope for was to keep an eye out for the truck, and flag it down. Short story, I missed the truck, and it was ben that noticed it in the tracking.
Well, first it's not an apartment, but I'm guessing it's a standard message. I went to contact UPS to provide the info (the missing number is "2"). The email system won't work without an infotrack number. This is on a notice a delivery driver leaves when he can't deliver, but since he doesn't know where to deliver, he can't leave a notice, so there's no number. Have I mentioned that the emails can't be sent without this number? BAD

Time to phone UPS, which is based locally, in Atlanta. This is the good part. I've known Ben for years, decades almost (18 years almost) as we both grew up in Liverpool, so I have the Scouse accent. I've also now lived in the US for a number of years, in the south; my wife's southern, my kids are all southern - can you imagine my accent? I can't use drive-thrus, I have difficulty with speech recognition (I'm sick to death of reading 3001 and other books to train Dragon NaturallySpeaking) so voice-based phone menu systems are a nightmare for me. This one actually worked. GOOD
Better, as soon as I gave the tracking number (18 letters and numbers) it immediately put me through to an agent. GOOD
Even better, she had my package details on her screen, and I didn't have to repeat everything! GREAT!!
Alas, after giving her the number, which they were 'attempting to obtain', I was told that it's considered a 'new address' and wouldn't be delivered until tommorows runs now BAD (but on the upside, she was competant, and easy to understand, a rarity in customer service, and start to finish, from hitting send on my cellphone, to hanging up - 3m49s GREAT!)

I can understand if it was a few hours later - the truck would be nowhere near, but I doubt it was that far away, or wouldn't be passing close later, on its way back to the depot. BAD

The, there is the option to be notified by email if theres a problem, or when a delivery's been done. At 1:46PM, two emails arrived together, one for the change of address, and the second for the failed delivery attempt; the change of address one arrived a second or two earlier. Very usefull system that. BAD

Of course, it's not all UPS' fault. Someone at OUP was a little careless in not putting the full address on the package. BAD
but back to Ben


As TorrentFreak hopes to do more reviews in the future, we just hope that the bad instances are reduced, but at the same time, these things are going to happen sometimes. Look for the start of a reviews section soon, on


gotta love it...

Monday, April 06, 2009

BERR consultation responses - “03”

In reference to BERR response “p2p – 03 – FOI.PDF”

A short and succinct response, which makes its points clearly and quickly, but gives few actual easily followed references, instead alluding to events. The writer is clearly technology literate, P2P literate, and has been following most of the main cases involving P2P at a level including critical analysis, rather than press releases and mainstream reporting.

I would also have to disagree with the writer on a factual basis, at least on his claim that section 3.6 of the consultation document is flawed. It is actually accurate. However, its the manner in which certain companies go about this that is flawed. It's as much about semantics as anything else. The idea (section 3.6) is sound, the practical operation of it is flawed. Also, there is a slight factual inaccuracy again in 'notices sent to photocopiers'. In actuality, the notices were sent to printers, and other non-storage network capable devices, in a study by the University of Washington, to see if they could spoof IP addresses and get notices sent. Printers and similar were chosen because they were IP addresses that were physically incapable of doing the actions they were accused of. I covered it in more detail in my TorrentFreak article, published when the study came out.

As far as breaching privacy goes, I think that's an argument that will go nowhere. They are not accessing anything you've not released to be accessed. Either knowingly, or unknowingly, and have not used any tools, beyond the counterpart to a program you are using, to obtain data. Now, the legality of a company obtaining data on individuals, for hire, is another question. In many US states, such activities usually fall under the description of “Private Investigator” and require the investigator to be licensed with the state. I'm unclear of the status of similar laws and requirements in the UK, but I am currently unaware of anyone working in a company that does this sort of work holding any such license.

The references to 3.38 though, the E-Privacy Directive, are in the main fairly accurate though. There has been little peer-review of antiP2P detection methods. Most companies claim 'trade secrets' over their collection methodology and technology. However, the vast majority of methods do not manage to identify anything beyond an IP address, much less a computer, and certainly NOT an individual. Thus, under the E-Privacy directive, asserting anyone to be the infringer is false, as there is no evidence to back it up, and so it fails the accuracy standard. The only way to even have a hope of identifying the person, is probably through behavior observation, using deep packet inspection for all computer activity. Even this will be confused by multiple people operating a single computer collectively, or multiple computers behind NAT.

There is also more comment on the quality of the investigation with reference to consultation assertions that it must be successful if so many pay up. However, the consultation itself gives the reasons for it, on the next page, observing that “such legal action can cost in excess of £10,000” In comparison, £500 isn't such a bad figure, and in that case, it's cheaper and easier to pay up. This is the problem with the current method of dealing with alleged copyright infringement, and it's one that will be dealt with more in a more appropriate response, such as Davenport Lyons' response.

As the conclusion of the submission rightly points out, though, the vast majority of the consultation document makes the assumption that identifying the infringer is easy and highly accurate. However, there are plenty of cases where this has been shown to be completely false. Thus, the writer is correct in saying that the majority of the document, and any proposed sanctions, are irrelevent unless and until an accurate and accountable system of identification can be found.

Consultation analysis overview

BERR consultation responses - “02”

In reference to BERR response “p2p – 02 – FOI.PDF”

First of all, the identity of this person is redacted, albeit pointlessly. The author is Bennett Lincoff, which is easily to determine from the first page alone (of the 14 submitted). I wish I knew why the BERR took the strange step of not only removing the person's identity, but also of redacting some of the supporting links in the footnotes, perhaps because the URL is for Bennett's site, When you also take into account the professional experience he has, it's unusual they bothered to remove his name at all – 15 seconds of searching at most is all it would take anyone to do this.

Mr Lincoff does has some things to say that might surprise people who just look at his professional past. Page 3 exemplifies this. “It seems that whatever the final particulars, the enhanced enforcement regime contemplated by BERR will likely rely on highly intrusive means and *draconian punishments that are disproportionate to the seriousness of the actions* they are intended to deter. Because of this, *it represents a policy initiative of dubious merit*. In any event, as discussed below, *unauthorized P2P file-sharing is not even the primary cause* of the music industry's decade-long decline” (emphasis mine) and indeed the first 5½ pages are a discussion of why the music industry's situation is what it is. While none of the points are new to those who have followed this subject for years, it's nice to have someone that worked in the music industry, in a policy position, say these things out loud.

The main gist of the response thereafter is an interesting idea, that of the 'digital transmission license', one which collectively and jointly replaces the analogue-era collection of rights – broadcast rights, reproduction rights, performance rights etc. – and their resulting royalties. Instead the one license covers all, and is jointly owned by the songwriter, artist, producer and publisher. The right may be granted by any party, they just have to account for the royalties to the other partners.

However, where Mr Lincoff has mainly done well in accepting the technological realities of peer-to-peer sharing, one area he apparently doesn't understand is decentralized systems. “On the other hand, distributors of file-sharing software for decentralized networks who with to secure licenses for their services could do so if they configured future releases of their software to exercise certain key measures of control over the file- and streaming-sharing that the software enabled.” The Problem here is that such a decentralized network, for example Bittorrent, is an open specification. Anyone can write a client, which will work with others, and the basis of the protocol is uploading as you're downloading. Any client with such measures would quickly be ignored, and older clients, or new clients without such restrictions, would be used instead. It's not that far fetched, as a number believe recent versions of the utorrent client monitor actions, and refuse to use a version later than 1.6.1. Despite being factually untrue (and I have checked), it has still persisted for more than 2 years.

Overall, it's a good idea, if somewhat impractical. If it were implemented, then it may also make things easier and cheaper for both consumers, and artists, although at the expense of the labels, who would lose out on the 'double-dipping' of licenses they currently employ. It is, however, hard to argue with his final conclusion. “I suggest, however, that BERR refrain from making matters worse by requiring ISPs to act as enforcers on behalf of copyright holders.

Consultation analysis overview

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

FTC - Failures to Comment?

I've just spent the last 8 hours or more listening to the FTC webcast on DRM.

I've submitted several questions, and an associate of mine, Andrew Norton of the Pirate Party International, submitted serveral too. Between us, we had 4-5 read out. Only ONE was actually read out in full, and it was not really followed up; in some instances questions ended mid-sentence when read out, leading to some unusual and awkward silences as the questions often didn't make sense.

It seems the FTC may have gotten a skewed view, because whoever was handling questions failed to communicate them accurately. When the transcripts are published (because their system failed when attempts were made to save the transcript on the webcast)  I'll show the comparison between what was asked, and what was read out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Broadband Maps and 'We never saw bittorrent comming'

Having spent a good part of today watching some of the Department of Commerce's (DOC) roundtable about the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, it seems there's a lot of talk and little action. One thing that came up was there is little desire to make businesses accountable and serve the public, because it might put people off (although they also acknowledge that very few turn down the money talked about here). Something eye-opening was that the FCC considers an entire zip-code (postal code) covered by broadband, if one address in it has broadband service.

The problem is, that in the rural areas, with the problems of access to broadband, zipcodes can cover huge areas – sometimes 150 square miles or more – and also contain towns and rural areas. A friend of TorrentFreak's researcher lives in such an area, living a 25-30 minute drive out of town, up and over a mountain in rural Georgia, and yet they've still got the city zip-code. It's something that needs revamping urgently, so that an accurate picture of what there is to work from can be found.

It wasn't all boring figures though, as in the morning session, on 'nondiscrimination and interconnection obligations', one remark in some ways showed the depths of the problem. Chris Guttman-McCabe, Vice President for Regulatory affairs at the Wireless Association (CTIA) said, and I quote “I'm not sure anyone would have known what bittorrent was two years ago, but now it's at the center of how we look at discrimination cases and such, but we will be looking back saying 'what the heck we had no clue as to what network management meant at the time'”. (You can find it in the official transcript, but as it's a text2speech system, search for 'bit torn')

We have major sites that have been around for 4-5 years, and the FBI knows about bittorrent (elitetorrents) as did the White House (the pirate bay) so why doesn't 'The Wireless Association'? Who knows, but it seems someone should be asking them that.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rand Corp joins ITfIPA's crazytrain

A few years back, I wrote about some extremely misleading stats published by the ITfIPA (Industry Trust for IP Awareness) and the involvement of terrorists. Imagine my surprise today then, when I read of a study by the Rand Corporation, which makes similar claims, and lo and behold, it also uses counterfeiting stats, to mean 'movie piracy' (the two terms are NOT interchangable). No prizes for guessing who funded this study.... yep the MPAA.

I guess the easiest way to get what they want, is to make people afraid, especially lawmakers. Bogus, and stretched statistics do that well. Expect some debunking to appear shortly, either here, or on

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

BERR consultation responses - “01”

In reference to BERR response “p2p – 01 – FOI.PDF

This response is typical of a medium to heavy user, and would appear to be teens or early twenties. The respondent is clear that a contract should fulfil it's advertised role, and that the ISPs shouldn't be selling and promising what it can't, or doesn't want to, deliver. The user is also quite forthright in pointing out that there are options and legislations already in place to deal with the problem – a civil suit through the courts. That it is either costly, or slow does not mean that it is ineffective (it's the norm in civil suits, party to prevent frivolous suits). It is quite rightly pointed out that removal of the courts means that the basics of law and order are circumvented, and that the paper is asking for comments on vigilantism.

There are no major factual inaccuracies, although no deep understanding of the law is evident, the legal understanding is consistent with a layman's perspective.

Consultation analysis overview

BERR Consultation Responses – An Analysis

I must admit, with my current role at TorrentFreak, I've let N2N get quiet. I now plan on partially reviving it, but more as a sort of repository of analysis I've conducted. Firstly, I'll be starting with the recent BERR consultation responses. This is stuff that just won't fit in with TorrentFreak but which I feel is important to get published in some form, so that it's out there, for people to read.

I'm going to start in filename order on the responses, so it will be the numbered responses from individuals. I'll add each one as and when I have time to, so there won't be a regular update. If you wish to reference or quote these results, by all means, this site is under a Creative commons BY-NC-SA license. Creative Commons License