interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

Posts Tagged ‘piracy’

The Hidden Rationale for Usage Based Billing

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 13, 2011

No Usage Based Billing!

by Sharon Polsky
President and CEO — AM¡NAcorp.ca
National Chair — CAPAPA

The recent discussion about Usage Based Billing being a ‘cash grab’ has generated much debate: Is a cash grab warranted? Should Internet users have to pay according to the volume they download?
Does UBB discourage innovation?

ACTA logo

The simple answer to the underlying question is:
ISPs and telcos need a way to fund
the Internet monitoring functions required by
the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and Canada’s Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act (Bill C-52).

To understand the real impact, though, it is important to view UBB in context with other issues, which together: 

  • jeopardize the sovereignty of our nation,
  • have a chilling effect on freedom of expression, and
  • threaten the privacy and democratic freedoms traditionally enjoyed in Canada.

It can be argued that these measures do nothing to protect Canada or Canadians from the threat of terrorism (real or perceived), US protectionism or other economic threats, or future retribution by the Department of Homeland Security or other agencies.

UBB In Context

ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is an international agreement to protect intellectual property and guard against piracy. It was hammered out by a handful of countries and requires signatories to have civil and criminal law that complies with it. Canada may have bargained away our ability to create independent legislation simply by being a party to ACTA, with terms allowing Canada to pass laws more stringent than required, but depriving us of the authority to create laws that contravene ACTA. This clearly undermines Canadian sovereignty.

ACTA was Negotiated in Secret

The US declared the draft ACTA text to be confidential as a matter of national security (the economy is a matter of ‘national security’ in both the US and Canada) so negotiation of the international scheme to guard against piracy and copyright infringement was done in secret, with a level of secrecy that excluded input from Canadian citizens, consumer and human rights groups, or Canada’s Information and Privacy Commissioner; yet the draft was circulated amongst rights-holder lobbyists (generally from the recording and motion picture industries). Many experts consider this to be an unprecedented degree of secrecy for a set of copyright protection rules.

Once approved, ACTA member countries are expected to put pressure on their trading partners to have them join the treaty — of course, after ACTA is finalized, so the newcomers will have no option but to accept the terms set by the original negotiating parties.

curls of razor wire against yellow brick

Prosecution, Remedies and Penalties under ACTA

Under ACTA, allegations advanced by rights holders lead to prosecution, remedies and penalties decided by judicial or ‘administrative’ authorities, with restitution and “lost profits” calculated by the rights holder. Although an alleged infringer can be ordered to reimburse the rights holder for the retail price and “lost profits”, legal expenses, court costs, and other amounts, as well as bearing the expense of destruction of allegedly counterfeit products, if it’s ultimately found that there was no infringement, the alleged infringer can ask for damages, but no process or formula is articulated.

Border officials will be compelled to carry out injunctions obtained in other countries, even if legal in the border official’s country. ACTA will also:

  • facilitate seizure of off patent medicines in the country of production and export,
  • empower member countries to seize and destroy exports while in transit to other countries
  • encourage countries to seize and inspect personal devices for any pirated material

The costs will be born by the individual being searched or the sender of the seized goods.

Privacy invasive provisions require release of personal identity information about alleged infringers, and information about any party who might be associated with alleged infringers are included in ACTA.

Third parties (i.e., distributors, NGOs, public health authorities) are put at risk of injunctions, provisional measures, and even criminal penalties, including imprisonment and severe economic losses:

  • Suppliers of active pharmaceutical ingredients used for producing generic medicines;
  • distributors and retailers who stock generic medicines;
  • NGOs who provide treatment;
  • funders who support health programs; and
  • drug regulatory authorities who examine medicines

could be implicated under ACTA. Ascertaining the third party involvement will require inspecting digital records; and ACTA compels disclosure and international sharing of that information.

Potential repercussions may well deter direct or indirect involvement in research, production, sale and distribution of affordable generic medicines.

Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) of online activity is already being used to identify alleged infringements. DPI has been in use by Canadian ISPs and telcos for some time. In August 2009, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner ruled on DPI used by Bell/Sympatico (Case Summary #2009-010). The Commissioner recommended that Bell Canada inform customers about Deep Packet Inspection, but did not prohibit its use.

“It is relatively easy to paint a picture of a network where DPI, unchecked, could be used to monitor the activities of its users.” 

Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Financial Impact of Bill C-52

Bill C-52: An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations
— referred to as the “Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act” — is only one of the many ways that Canada is giving force and effect to ACTA.

C-52 is intended “to ensure that telecommunications service providers have the capability to enable national security and law enforcement agencies to exercise their authority to intercept communications and to require telecommunications service providers to provide subscriber and other information” upon request.

No warrant is necessary.

C-52 also requires the telcos and ISPs to provide the transmissions in an unencrypted form and to “comply with any prescribed confidentiality or security measures“.

to provide “any information in the service provider’s possession or control respecting:

  • the name,
  • address,
  • telephone number and
  • electronic mail address of any subscriber to any of the service provider’s telecommunications services and the
    Internet protocol address,
  • mobile identification number,
  • electronic serial number,
  • local service provider identifier,
  • international mobile equipment identity number,
  • international mobile subscriber identity number and
  • subscriber identity module card number that are associated with the subscriber’s service and equipment”.

Under current Canadian law, Internet Service Providers who have the means to spy on their customers (Deep Packet Inspection capability) can be asked to do so by the government, but they cannot be compelled to have such means.

Under C-52, Telcos are required to have and bear the cost of the equipment necessary to comply; and the equipment can be specified by the government or enforcement agencies. The cost of actually determining and providing the information to law enforcement will be billed to and paid by the requesting agency — with our tax dollars.

Usage Based Billing could well pay the costs of the Government mandated spyware that will be required should Bill C-52 become law. Not only will citizens find themselves stripped of privacy and spied on but we will be overcharged to pay for it.

The Future of ACTA

The ACTA text was finalized in November 2010, and the US and Canada (quietly) asked for feedback to be submitted by February 15th, 2011. The request was visible on the DFAIT website for a short time.

ACTA participants successfully completed a legal verification of the finalized ACTA text at a meeting in Sydney, Australia between November 30 and December 3, 2010.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (CC by Bitpicture)

Every Canadian Needs A Copy

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage met to discuss ACTA and other matters on January 31, for 2 hours, and was scheduled to meet again on February 7, 2011.

The final ACTA text includes mechanisms to amend the agreement. That provides a ‘back door’ to get acceptance of the most contentious issues (such as the three strikes rule) that were rejected during the negotiations.

Even before the three strikes rule is adopted, the scope of ACTA provides the latitude that permits individual member nations to impose a three strikes rule.

So between ACTA and other laws, international agreements, and multilateral treaties to share information it’s easy enough to circumvent the provisions of Section 8 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to circumvent the protections embodied in all of Canada’s various privacy laws.

Canadians’ most intimate information can be sent outside of Canada to be examined, and then the results back into Canada. Canada and the US have been known to do that on occasion, typically to protect ‘national security’ or guard against the perceived threat of ‘terrorism’.

Stripping Canadian Law of citizen protection measures that have evolved over hundreds of years has not been shown to protect citizens from terrorism, but rather to open up new avenues of compromising and removing the Rights and Freedoms Canadians expect to enjoy under our democratic system.



Guest blogger Sharon Polsky is the President & CEO of AM¡NAcorp.ca as well as the National Chair — CAPAPA More background can be found in Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Highlights

Image credit:
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: “Every Canadian Needs A Copy” released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) licence by Bitpicture on Flickr

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Highlights

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on February 8, 2011

ACTA logo

by Sharon Polsky
President and CEO — AM¡NAcorp.ca
National Chair — CAPAPA

ACTA is an international agreement hammered out by a handful of countries (led by the US, including Canada) that requires signatories to create civil and criminal law to give force and effect to ACTA.

ACTA is intended as a global standard to ‘protect’ against intellectual property and counterfeit products, containing very specific discussion about digital information.

The negotiating parties did NOT include:

  • India,
  • Brazil,
  • China,
  • Russia
  • or any countries known as the greatest sources of counterfeit goods.

Nor did it include any:

  • consumer rights groups,
  • human rights groups, or the
  • Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

The intent to negotiate a deal was announced in late 2007. Because there’s an economic impact component to it, the US declared the draft ACTA text to be confidential as a matter of national security. A draft was circulated amongst rights-holder lobbyists (generally from the recording and motion picture industries). After three years of negotiations, the text was leaked in April of 2010. The Government of Canada released a copy of the draft in October 2010. The final text was issued in November 2010.

An unprecedented degree of secrecy for a set of copyright protection rules.

Once ACTA is approved, its member countries are expected to put pressure on their trading partners to have them join the treaty — of course, after ACTA is finalized.

The final text includes a provision for amending the agreement, and that’s viewed as a back door to get acceptance of the three strikes provision that was rejected during negotiations.

Three strikes law describes the penalty: after three allegations of inappropriate Internet use, service will be suspended for 12 months.

heavily stacked in favor of “rightsholders” at the expense of consumer human rights

Under ACTA, prosecution, remedies and penalties are acted upon based on allegations advanced by the rights holder, and all can be decided by judicial or ‘administrative’ authorities. ACTA sets out the items that can be included in calculating restitution. For instance, an alleged infringer can be ordered to reimburse the rights holder for the retail price and “lost profits” (as calculated by the rights holder), legal and court costs, etc etc. Allegedly counterfeit products must be destroyed, at the expense of the alleged infringer. If it’s ultimately found that there was no infringement, the alleged infringer can ask for damages, but no process or formula is articulated.

ACTA puts individuals in jeopardy since border officials will be compelled to carry out the injunctions obtained in other countries, even if the activity is legal in the border official’s country. Thus, ACTA empowers officials to seize medicines that are off patent in the country of production and in the countries where they are being exported to, if a company holds a patent to that medicine in any member country.

Similarly, ACTA’s border enforcement provisions empower member countries to seize and destroy exports while in transit to other countries. ACTA provides that “parties MAY exclude small quantities of goods of a non-commercial nature contained in travelers’ personal luggage”, so it still leaves it to countries to seize and inspect personal devices to determine if and how much pirated material is there; and the individual will have to bear the cost of inspection, storage, and destruction. So anyone who rips music from the CD they bought and transfers that ripped music onto their iPhone or Blackberry, and then tries to carry it through the border might not get very far. Imagine what it could do at airport screening lineups!

ACTA offers many privacy-invasive provisions, including requiring the release of information necessary to identify an alleged infringer, and any party who might be associated with that alleged infringer.

ACTA puts third parties (i.e., distributors, NGOs, public health authorities) at risk of injunctions, provisional measures, and even criminal penalties, including imprisonment and severe economic losses. This could implicate, for example, suppliers of active pharmaceutical ingredients used for producing generic medicines; distributors and retailers who stock generic medicines; NGOs who provide treatment; funders who support health programs; and drug regulatory authorities who examine medicines. The potential repercussions are expected to serve as a deterrent to being involved — directly or indirectly — in the research, production, sale and distribution of affordable generic medicines. Ascertaining the third party involvement will require inspecting digital records; and ACTA compels disclosure and international sharing of that information.

Deep Packet Inspection

Deep packet inspection of online activity will be used to identify alleged infringements. ISPs will be required to shut down alleged infringers’ Internet connections, and publicize the identity of the alleged offender amongst other ISPs.

DPI is also expected to cause ‘collateral damage’ when blameless sites at the same IP address get shut down along with the accused. DPI was approved for use by ISPs and telcos when, in August 2009, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner ruled on the Bell/Sympatico case (Case Summary #2009-010). The only limit was a recommendation Bell Canada inform customers about Deep Packet Inspection.

The Commissioner did note that “It is relatively easy to paint a picture of a network where DPI, unchecked, could be used to monitor the activities of its users.”

In January 2010, President Nicolas Sarkozy gave a speech to members of the French music and publishing industries and said that “authorities should experiment with filtering in order to automatically remove all forms of piracy from the Internet.”

France

government approved SPYware text and magnifying glass

Liberté, égalité, fraternité?

France recently passed its HADOPI “three strikes” law that targets alleged illegal Internet file-swappers. There is no no presumption of innocence in HADOPI. After a rights holder advances an allegation of infringement and gets administrative approval, the alleged infringer receives two warnings, and then gets cut off the Internet.

And there is no judicial recourse.

Under the terms of HADOPI, Internet access is only restored after the “offender” allows spyware to be installed on his/her computer, monitoring every single thing that happens on said computer, and that could also reach to the entire network (personal or corporate) that the computer is attached to.

HADOPI has been sending out notices. Initially, it sent out about 10,000 per day, with plans to ramp up to 50,000 per day. ISPs must hand over information to the government about those accused within eight days. If they don’t, hey could get fined 1,500 euros per day per IP address.

USA

A few weeks after Thanksgiving weekend in November 2010, the US Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department seized and shut down 82 domain names during “Operation In Our Sites II” without prior notice. Not all of these domains contained counterfeit products.

The web sites included a search engine and some well-known music blogs.The released partial affidavit and seizure warrant show that that the decision to seize the domains was almost exclusively dependent on what the Motion Picture Association of America said were the facts, and the MPAA’s numbers about the economic importance of the movie industry and MPAA testimony about how piracy hurts its income.

The MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America were two of the 42 individuals and groups in the US that were given access to the draft text early on.

Canada and the International Sacrifice of Personal Privacy

Canada’s Anti Terrorism Act and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act in conjunction with other legislation allows governments to trade and swap Canadians’ information with around the world without our knowledge.

The PATRIOT Act does the same in the US. The UK Home Office recently resurrected the so-called ‘Super Snooper Bill’ that will allow the police and security services to track the British public’s email, text, Internet and mobile phone details. And the “Server in the Sky” global biometric database will tie it all together.

Vertical Canadian Flag

Canada’s Bill C‑52 — referred to as the “Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act” — is intended “to ensure that telecommunications service providers have the capability to enable national security and law enforcement agencies to exercise their authority to intercept communications and to require telecommunications service providers to provide subscriber and other information” upon request.

No warrant necessary in Canada.

C-52 also requires the telcos and ISPs to provide the transmissions in an unencrypted form and to “comply with any prescribed confidentiality or security measures“. A gag order, in other words.

And the information to be provided is quite specific and broad: It is “any information in the service provider’s possession or control respecting the name, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of any subscriber to any of the service provider’s telecommunications services and the Internet protocol address,
mobile identification number, electronic serial number, local service provider identifier, international mobile equipment identity number, international mobile subscriber identity number and subscriber identity module card number that are associated with the subscriber’s service and equipment”.

C52 compels ISPs to spy on their customers

Under C-52, Telcos are required to have and bear the cost of the equipment necessary to comply; and the equipment can be specified by the government or enforcement agencies.

Between ACTA and other international agreements and multilateral treaties to share information it’s easy enough to circumvent the provisions of Section 8 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms by having an agency outside of Canada do the work, and then share the results back into Canada. Canada and the US have been known to do that on occasion, typically to protect ‘national security’ or guard again ‘terrorism’.

ACTA is based on allegations and assurances of the rights holder.



Guest blogger Sharon Polsky is the President & CEO of AM¡NAcorp.ca as well as the
National Chair — CAPAPA, the Canadian Association of Professional Access and Privacy Administrators. This article provides the necessary background for the Sharon’s article “The Hidden Rationale for Usage Based Billing” scheduled to be published here in the Stop Usage Based Billing blog February 10th.

Post Script:
Internet Service Providers are in the business of providing Internet Service, and ‘deputizing’ them to spy on citizen customers is an atrocious breach of net neutrality, which I wrote about a year ago in Nutshell Net Neutrality

Looking over my blogs, I was surprised to see just how much I have actually written about ACTA shared both in this blog:

as well as on my Oh! Canada political blog:

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Talk Like A Pirate Day marred by DDoS Attacks

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 20, 2010

Boy in pirate gear looks through a spyglass

Avast mateys! Sunday September 19th was Talk Like A Pirate Day.  It’s always the 19th of September.

Kids (of all ages) around the world revel in a whole day in which they can “Talk Like A Pirate”.    Arrr.   Be a pirate.   Sing and play pirate songs like the Arrogant Worms classic pirate tune Last Saskatchewan Pirate.  Dress up in pirate gear.  There is even an online Pirate Translator for assistance with pirate talking.  It is nothing to do with politics, or copyright. The point of “Talk Like A Pirate Day” is fun. Yo ho ho.

This year, not so much.

The MPAA has been unsuccessfully trying to convince people that sharing is a bad thing by spending vast sums of money on ‘anti-piracy’ advertising. Of course it doesn’t help that they what they call piracy is not just commercial bootlegging, but includes personal use sharing and any number of things that users feel justified in doing. (Some copyright “reformers” say that we need to purchase copies of the same book for every member of the family.) Or format shifting. (Some copyright “reformers” say we should purchase copies of the same song for every device we would play it on.)

Although this campaign to make people think that piracy is terrible has been largely unsuccessful with citizen consumers, in combination with massive lobbying efforts it seems to have worked with governments. The USA passed the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), the UK passed the Digital Economy Act (DEAct), and the Canadian government continues to push ahead in the face of almost universal opposition to it’s Canadian DMCA Bill C-32. The MPAA /RIAA has also been pushing the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in an attempt to make an end run around WIPO, previously the way to achieve international copyright treaties. Although not perfect, at least the WIPO process was transparent. Even so, none of these laws are easy to uphold in the face of such widespread citizen dissatisfaction. The DMCA has been repeatedly amended in response to court challenges to various anti-democratic aspects over the 12+ years of its operation.

So the MPAA hired Aiplex Software to go beyond the law, and use what is called a “Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack” to take down websites they allege infringe copyright. I believe this is done by overwhelming the site with traffic. I think that’s a bad thing. And apparently I’m not alone.

“Girish Kumar, managing director of Aiplex Software, a firm in India, told this website that his company, which works for the film industry, was being hired – effectively as hitmen – to launch cyber attacks on sites hosting pirated movies that don’t respond to copyright infringement notices sent to them by the film industry.”

Sydney Morning Herald: Film industry hires cyber hitmen to take down internet pirates

White Pirate Ship silhouette on one and A casette tape making the skull above crossbones for the other
Word went out that Aiplex used this tactic to take down the Pirate Bay website, which led to retaliation by the anonymous membership of the 4chan Message Boards. According to Torrent Freak,

“Following a call to arms yesterday, the masses inhabiting the anonymous 4chan boards have carried out a huge assault on a pair of anti-piracy enemies. The website of Aiplex Software, the anti-piracy outfit which has been DDoSing torrent sites recently, is currently down having been DDoS’d. They are joined in the Internet wasteland by the MPAA’s website, also currently under huge and sustained attack.”

TorrentFreak: 4chan DDoS Takes Down MPAA and Anti-Piracy Websites

I don’t know about the MPAA but I did see that the Aiplex site was indeed down yesterday. Today both are back up, as is the Pirate Bay site.

When the MPAA employs Aiplex to attack other sites, it makes the MPAA look very bad.

And the urge to retaliate is a natural human instinct. But striking back at your attacker isn’t always the best course of action. In this case, it doesn’t really help. In fact, replying in kind makes ‘pirates’ look bad.

Logo made of a purple letter P formed by a pirate sail enclosed in a circle surrounded by gold laurel leaves

Instead of talking about the great Software Freedom Day we had yesterday, people online were talking about DDoS attacks.

And suddenly it wasn’t any fun to talk like a pirate.

That’s too bad. Because raising awareness among those who might fall prey to misleading ‘piracy’ propaganda is important.

One constructive way to fight against bad law is to get involved politically. The European Union currently has two elected Pirate Party members. At this point pretty nearly every country in the world has a Pirate Party at some stage of development. (The United States has two. Coincidence? I think not.)

I believe that The Pirate Party of Canada is gearing up to register candidate(s) for the impending Federal Election, which is the last step in achieving ‘official party status’. Just the name “Pirate Party” draws attention to the issue. The point is not to engender lawlessness, but rather to fight for sane copyright reform.

Woman in Orange smoking text encircling her reads A TPB WORLD PREMIERE Die Beauty

When I went to check if Pirate Bay was down yesterday, I got a glimpse of one of the best ways to fight against the negative propaganda being peddled by the MPAA.

A new movie Die Beauty is being released on The Pirate Bay. You can check out the Die Beauty movie trailer on FaceBook (you don’t even have to log in to see this) and it looks quite interesting.

This is of course is the real reason the MPAA is so eager to shut down p2p sites like The Pirate Bay. The MPAA needs to kill or control this new distribution medium because it means that film makers don’t need a Hollywood monopoly to distribute their movies. Making effective use of this distribution channel to legally distribute movies is a far more effective way of fighting the MPAA.



[If you're aware of any movies, videos, music, books and art that make use of or plan to use Internet p2p distribution and/or creative commons licensing please let me know so I can add them to the list I'm compiling of of the new media. Thanks! ---laurel]

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

A.C.T.A. is BAD

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 7, 2009

Hollywood taught me about Democracy

Jesse Brown reported a very scary story How do you say “clueless” in Italian? on his Search Engine site.

No Usage Based Billing

No Usage Based Billing

Four Google execs may face jail terms because they didn’t pull an offensive video from their site BEFORE anyone complained about it.

Surprisingly, it didn’t seem to be a very big story, yet it is a perfect illustration of the incredible danger facing the internet. There is no way that large busy websites or the ISPs that host them can possibly monitor all of the material that is uploaded to the internet without seriously curtailing what is being uploaded to the internet.

For instance, when logging into Flickr I am told:

“There were 2,710 uploads in the last minute ”

Thousands of people upload images to Flickr every minute. It would take thousands of people to screen those images. If Flickr was forced to hire thousands of people to police the images members upload to the site, suddenly what Clay Shirky calls “ the transaction cost” would stop being nearly nil because the cost to maintain Flickr would skyrocket. It is doubtful that Flickr or YouTube or any other wildly successful website could cope with this without going bust.

Wikipedia, for example, has many people all over the world contributing articles and changing other people’s articles all the time. You would think that this would result in all kinds of internet vandalism happening.   But it doesn’t.   Sometimes people make mistakes, and the way Wikipedia works is that other people can fix those mistakes, And they do. And Wikipedia users also correct deliberate misinformation or vandalism.   So even if someone attempts to do a bad thing and vandalize wikipedia articles or disseminate misinformation on Wikipedia, Wikipedia is policed by its own editor/users.

As soon as anyone complains to Google, or YouTube, or Flickr about offensive content, the content is taken down. Now, I have to tell you, even though I am not by any means a young pup, in terms of understanding the internet, “I am only an Egg.” The internet we know today didn’t exist twenty years ago.

Like most people, I’ve been busy, so I wasn’t paying very much attention. Every now and then some new toy or gizmo having to do with computers would pop up — like iphones or ebooks or blackberrys. Or some new uber-cool thing like blogging or facebook or twitter or VOIP would suddenly be everywhere. And we can’t forget endless tales and dreams of dot com millionaires. The way the wold works has been changing very very fast. Six months ago I had no idea what Usage Based Billing was. About two months ago I started writing a simple little article explaining the mechanics of how the internet works. It turned out to be incredibly difficult to learn, let alone explain and mushroomed into “the alphabet series”. Simple? No, and the more I learn the more important I realize Net Neutrality is.

So I do understand why most people don’t even realize that this stuff is going on, or even that it matters. But the thing is that the internet has been slowly growing up and becoming more important in the world, and at the same time a much larger force for change. Which is why it is so important that there be Net Neutrality. Because the internet has come so far so fast it is especially important that it not be turned against it’s users.

Alongside Net Neutrality people in this brave new world are also talking about file sharing, “3 Strikes laws” and ACTA. Terms like piracy and theft are being hurled around and “copyright infringement” has been elevated to a near executable offense.

Why now?

It is no secret that governments around the world have been lobbied long and hard by the “copyright lobby” large media corporations, music and movie companies who are attempting to legislate prograss back into the twentieth century and change the way we think. They have been turning their media might into a propoaganda tool of epic proportions. Because of the incredible power that they can bring to bear, copyright laws around the world are being changed to appease these lobbyists.

Hollywood taught me spying on citizens is bad.

Hollywood taught me spying on citizens is bad

Copyright law “improvements” enrich the lives of Americans

An inflammatory Chicago Sun Times headline reads Woman arrested for trying to record ‘Twilight’ on digital camera. The article recounts a story about a young woman who is being criminally charged– to the same extent and in the the same way a professional bootlegger would be charged– for recording scenes of her sister’s birthday party at the movies. The video picked up about 4 minutes of movie fragments. This is the equivalent of charging a teenager with one joint as a drug dealer, or the child who swiped a tempting lollipop from the grocery store with grand theft. It is simply not reasonable.

I’ve taken photographs of family and friends on special occasion trips to the movies. I’ve made videotapes of birthday parties. If you make a video of a child’s birthday party and a movie or video game was playing on the TV in the background, you too could be criminally charged. Under ACTA what will happen when you email a copy of this copyright infringing video to Grannie in England? Will she be fined or jailed or will you?

These laws are already absurd. And then… here comes ACTA.

All of the citizens of the world are being deliberately excuded from all ACTA negotiations. President Obama, so recently praised for his commitment to Net Neutrality, believes this to be a matter of National Security.

There is a huge difference between “personal use copying” and “commercial bootlegging” which the copyright lobby is lumping together as “piracy”. This is all a wrongheaded attempt to legislate away progress. Instead of trying to adapt with the technology, the copyright lobby has chosen to pour millions (billions?) into lobbying for this legislation that will not in fact do anything to stop commercial bootlegging. To give the appearance of doing something they instead choose to criminalize the mostly young citizens who are not harming this special interest group. Personally, I would rather see the best and brightest of Canada’s younger generation find themselves in universities rather than jail.

ACTA is bad. Very Very Bad.

Hollywood Influences

Growing up I learned a lot from “Hollywood”.

Like most Canadians of my generation TV and Movies gave me a better understanding of the American legal system than the Canadian.

Hollywood taught me that:

  • free enterprise is admirable.
  • free speech is important
  • individuals have rights
  • democracy is good, and good government is responsive to the wishes of the citizens
  • communism is bad, because the government spies on its citizens
  • a person should be considered innocent until proven guilty

BUT.

Hollywood taught me "innocent until proven guilty"

Apparently that was all just “content”.  ACTA makes it pretty clear that Hollywood’s true objective is for governments around the world to:

  • suppress free speech,
  • shackle their competitors,
  • dismantle democracy,
  • spy on citizens and
  • throw out the rule of law to punish people on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations.

The saddest part is that it isn’t for some misguided ideological reason that they think will improve the world. This is pure greed.

ACTA links

“Canada and its international trading partners each have distinct copyright policies, laws and approaches for addressing the challenges and opportunities of the internet. Canada’s current framework provides strong intellectual property protections and our copyright laws apply in the digital context, including on the internet. Moreover, Canada’s regime for

the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights is fully consistent with its international obligations.”

The Honourable Tony Clement, The Hill Times – Canada’s Politics and Government Newsweekly

YET.

Somehow Canada continues to participate in the secret ACTA treaty negotiations.

“Secret ACTA negotiations would criminalize Canadian internet use” says New Democrat Digital Issues Critic Charlie Angus, who demanded that Tony Clement reveal the ACTA negotiation mandate letter. Tony Clement Responds To Concerns That ACTA Will Circumvent Canadian Copyright Law

Ambassador Kirk: People would be “walking away from the table” if the ACTA text is made public . Maybe that is what should be happening.

Russell McOrmond tells us about:

Word manipulation, hypocrisy, and the so-called Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in it world.

Bytestyle TV’s Shelly Roche tells us a few things about ACTA, including the fact that it is being undertaken as an executive order, and therefore will not require ratification by the U.S. Congress. If it’s any consolation, American citizens are being kept just as much in the dark as Canadians, and, well, every other country in the world. ACTA: Internet Users Guilty Until Proven Innocent and ACTA: Will Corporate-Run US Government Destroy the Internet?

The Electronic Freedom Foundation Senator Bayh Responds on ACTA illustrates just how badly informed Americans (including Senators) are about ACTA.

Fortunately all Senators weren’t created equal. Senators blast Obama’s secret trade talks as Fox head calls for ‘3 strikes’

Michael Geist brings us: EU ACTA Analysis Leaks: Confirms Plans For Global DMCA, Encourage 3 Strikes Model

Where Paolo Brini passed along the news that the ACTA “negotiations now are not compliant with the Lisbon Treaty, which has come into force the 1st of December” EU negotiators show too many incompatibilities between ACTA and EU laws and Telecoms Package: 3-strikes forbidden in Europe He says further that “The agreement between the Council and the Parliament led to a new amendment which clearly forbids 3-strikes, in the sense meant by ACTA, and restrictions to fundamental rights without following very precise parameters (not respected by ACTA).”

Jamie Love’s blast from the past: Seven Secret ACTA documents from 2008 which includes the link to a PDF of the “Canada Non-Paper on institutional issues under the Agreement” is then discussed in Howard Knopf’s EXCESS COPYRIGHT: Canadian Proposal for ACTA Secretariat

Wired Magazine weighs in with the Threat Level column: Privacy, Crime and Security Online Report: U.S. Fears Public Scrutiny Would Scuttle IP Treaty Talks

New Zealand would like to know: Dunne: What are we signing up to, Mr Power? – 4 December 2009

Last week on BoingBoing Cory Doctorow passed along Javier “Barrapunto” Candeira’s information on the Spanish activists issue manifesto on the rights of Internet users which was created to battle the proposed suspension of due process “in the name of ‘safeguarding Intellectual Property Laws against Internet Piracy.”

1 .- Copyright should not be placed above citizens’ fundamental rights to privacy, security, presumption of innocence, effective judicial protection and freedom of expression.

2 .- Suspension of fundamental rights is and must remain an exclusive competence of judges. This blueprint, contrary to the provisions of Article 20.5 of the Spanish Constitution, places in the hands of the executive the power to keep Spanish citizens from accessing certain websites.

3 .- The proposed laws would create legal uncertainty across Spanish IT companies, damaging one of the few areas of development and future of our economy, hindering the creation of startups, introducing barriers to competition and slowing down its international projection.

4 .- The proposed laws threaten creativity and hinder cultural development. The Internet and new technologies have democratized the creation and publication of all types of content, which no longer depends on an old small industry but on multiple and different sources.

5 .- Authors, like all workers, are entitled to live out of their creative ideas, business models and activities linked to their creations. Trying to hold an obsolete industry with legislative changes is neither fair nor realistic. If their business model was based on controlling copies of any creation and this is not possible any more on the Internet, they should look for a new business model.

6 .- We believe that cultural industries need modern, effective, credible and affordable alternatives to survive. They also need to adapt to new social practices.

7 .- The Internet should be free and not have any interference from groups that seek to perpetuate obsolete business models and stop the free flow of human knowledge.

8 .- We ask the Government to guarantee net neutrality in Spain, as it will act as a framework in which a sustainable economy may develop.

9 .- We propose a real reform of intellectual property rights in order to ensure a society of knowledge, promote the public domain and limit abuses from copyright organizations.

10 .- In a democracy, laws and their amendments should only be adopted after a timely public debate and consultation with all involved parties. Legislative changes affecting fundamental rights can only be made in a Constitutional law.

The Spanish government withdrew the draft law that would have legalized punishment without due process.

Spanish Blogroll:

[this is only a smattering of the websites bearing the manifesto... a Google search shows "de aproximadamente 351,000 de manifiesto en defensa de los derechos fundamentales en internet"]

and the list goes on….

Bravo Spain.

Talk about this.

And please, contact your MP, Prime Minister Harper as well as the Honourable Ministers Clement and Moore.

Because ACTA is bad. Very very bad.

STOP Usage Based Billing

Posted in Changing the World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

D: BitTorrent

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on November 24, 2009

No Usage Based Billing
No Usage Based Billing

[The First Part of this series was <<A: Open Source. The second installment of the Stop Usage Based Billing alphabet series was <<B: Packets and the Internet. The third installment was <a href="<<C: Deep Packet Inspection, and the final installment will be E: Open Source Deep Packet Inspection]

What is BitTorrent Anyway??

“BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol used for distributing large amounts of data. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, and it has been estimated that it accounts for approximately 27-55% of all Internet traffic (depending on geographical location) as of February 2009.”

Wikipedia on BitTorrent

BitTorrent is an extremely fast and efficient means of uploading and downloading. BitTorrent is an excellent way to distribute large materials to many people via the internet.

Radical Ideas

Like so many of the radical new ways to do things that technology and the internet have made possible, BitTorrent can only work through co-operation. BitTorrent requires a network of “peers”, or other people’s computers who are willing to share the file. This is referred to as “peer to peer” or “p2p.

If I have a large file I want to transfer, the first step is to “seed” the file, transferring portions of the file to multiple members of the p2p network.

BitTorrent begins seeding portions of the file for transfer

Diagram 1: Seeding

It only takes a small fraction of the file to be passed along before the process speeds up enormously.

Seeding continues, but peers have begun exchanging data

Diagram 2: Seeding and Sharing

Once I have a small portion, i pass it along at the same time as I’m receiving new bits of the same file, either from the original seed source of another peer.

uploading and downloading

Diagram 3: Upload + Download = Speed

With many participants (peers) uploading and downloading at the same time, large files can be distributed very quickly indeed.

Diagram 4: Finish Fast

Bell Canada “Throttles” BitTorrent

Bell Canada

When Bell Canada was first caught “throttling” internet traffic to the Independent ISP customers, Bell Canada’s justification to the CRTC was that the internet was too crowded, and that it was necessary to “manage” the traffic. Bell claimed that they needed to employ Deep Packet Inspection to identify BitTorrent Traffic so that they can “throttle” it.

Mandate:
“The CRTC’s mandate is to ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public. ”

CRTC Role, CRTC Website

Amazingly, the CRTC had nothing to say about Bell Canada’s plans to discriminate against particular Canadian internet users.

The CRTC has accepted Bell’s unsubstantiated contention that this discrimination was necessary, and in approving it they have allowed Bell Canada to think that this discrimination is acceptable. In no way does this serve the Canadian public.

You might almost think that the CRTC mandate was to suppress Canadian creativity and the creation of Canadian movies and music. The availability of the technologies that exist to make it easy to create our own movies and music should be welcomed as an opportunity to add to and help grow our Canadian Culture.

Why single out BitTorrent traffic for throttling if it is an efficient use of the available bandwidth?

One of Bell Canada’s arguments for implementation of Usage Based Billing is that Canadian internet bandwidth is in short supply, making it necessary for them to “manage” bandwidth by penalizing heavy users.

So how could anything as efficient as BitTorrent possibly be seen as a bad thing if the Internet is so crowded?

It doesn’t make sense to discriminate against BitTorrent use. There is nothing inherently bad about BitTorrent use or BitTorrent internet traffic. But Bell Canada’s contention is that BitTorrent is bad because people use it to download movies and music.

Which begs the question: how does that make BitTorrent bad?

The Copyright Red Herring

The “Copyright Lobby”, which consists of large media producers and distributors (like Disney), and corporations and organizations (like MPAA), who distribute commercial movies and music, want us to believe that this is a bad thing.

This corporate special interest group has spent a great deal of time, energy and cash trying to promote the “pravda” that any digital copying of copyright works is bad. Making no distinction between commercial bootleggers who distribute illegal copies for profit and legal purchasers who seek to make a back-up copy or digital format shift for personal use, the Copyright Lobby has been pressuring governments the world over to criminalize personal use copying.

The problem for ordinary citizens is that these corporate interests have vast quantities of money to spend and a great deal of media power. This makes it incredibly difficult for governments to stand up to their onslaught. In some parts of the world this persistent advocacy has paid off for the Copyright Lobby, as lawmakers knuckle under and legislate to the detriment of their own citizens by making it illegal even to copy or download movies or music for personal use.

Here in Canada the Copyright Lobby is seeking to influence our lawmakers to criminalize personal use copying. They are trying to make Canadians think that people who make copies for personal use are performing criminal acts, and should be penalized the same as a a bootlegger who films the latest theatrical release off a theatre screen and proceeds to sell hundreds of thousands of bootleg DVDs.

Once again, Channel Four’s hilarious I.T. Crowd puts this question in perspective with this send-up of a video piracy commercial I found on YouTube.

Strong and free?

Strong and free?

Canadian Law says

RIGHT NOW, in Canada, personal use copying is simply not illegal.

RIGHT NOW, in Canada, use of the BitTorrent file transfer protocol is also perfectly legal.

RIGHT NOW, in Canada, peer to peer (p2p) file sharing is legal; Canadians break no laws simply by joining in a p2p network.

The Copyright Lobby’s smear tactics have gone a long way toward making the world believe that BitTorrent is inherently bad.

Bell Canada has convinced the CRTC that it is acceptable to “throttle” BitTorrent, because of BitTorrent’s reputed connection with possible copyright infringement. So although BitTorrent is perfectly legal, Canadian internet users are paying the price for the success of this Copyright Lobby propaganda.

Myth: All BitTorrent/p2p internet traffic consists of copyright movies and music

The Corporate world doesn’t understand radical ideas like Open Source software and p2p file sharing because these concepts are so different from anything appearing in the old business models. Even more incomprehensible to the outdated business models is the fact that it may or may not generate a direct monetary profit.

International Business Machines

The classic example of corporate myopia is:

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. ”

—attributed to Thomas J. Watson, president of International Business Machines, circa 1943

IBM For many years IBM has taken the rap for this quote whether or not Mr. Watson really did say it. (Most likely not.) Maybe proving it wrong is part of why IBM is such a going concern in the 21st Century. Having weathered the storms of fortune today’s IBM is a world leader by continuing to innovate and adapt alongside evolving attitudes and technologies. IBM has been steadily increasing their participation and involvement with Open Source software in this new century.

The reality is that IBM not only understands the importance of open source, the corporation has actively supported and promoted adoption of Linux and Open Office in the corporate world. And naturally BitTorrent is a part of the equation because it is such an efficient means to distribute large files (like for instance, Canonical’s Ubuntu.)

“Think.”

—Thomas J. Watson, president of International Business Machines

Seems IBM actually does heed their most enduring slogan (which definitely was coined by Mr. Watson). Sadly, this type of foresight is uncommon. Because BitTorrent is such a radical idea, most entrenched corporations simply aren’t capable of understanding it.

There are other uses for BitTorrent that are not only legal, but even perfectly acceptable in polite society.

The Nightingale and the Rose
Probably my favorite use of BitTorrent is the amazing Project Gutenberg. This organization has been digitizing books in the public domain and distributing them freely… via BitTorrent, since this is such an efficient method of digital distribution. After all, BitTorrent is used for transferring very large files like music and movies because it is very efficient.
firefox logo

BitTorrent file sharing is not all movies and music. Like IBM, many people actually use p2p to help distribute open source software like OpenOffice via p2p. There is a growing body of open source software available, for instance my favorite web browser is Mozilla’s Firefox.

In fact, there the awesome SourceForge website which provides a place to find all manner of open source software, or where you can release your own.

When a new distribution of Ubuntu is released, people around the world gather together and have Ubuntu Release Parties making more good use of BitTorrent

And of course the Pirate Party of Canada has established Captain: the Canadian Pirate Tracker, their own BitTorrent site where Recording Artists and Filmmakers (and I imagine novelists, and software creators as well would be welcome to utilize this) to freely distribute their work.

Every bit of music and every movie transferred is not a copyright infringement. If I get to the point where my home made movies may prove marketable, I would certainly be looking at BitTorrent Distribution. In fact it would probably be easier to distribute home movies to family via BitTorrent than it would be to try to burn DVDs. (DRM makes the two commercial movie making software packages I’ve purchased almost unusable. Of course it doesn’t slow down the bootleggers.) If YouTube is an indicator, I’m not the only person who wants to transfer music and movies freely … not as copyright infringements. I have paid levies to the music industry for home movies I have made and burrned to CD for distribution to friends and family. If I choose to transfer them via BitTorrent now I can avoid the levy but instead suffer the added expense of Bell Canada’s deliberate throttling inflation?

Another really good legal use of BitTorrents are the actual commercial websites where people can go to to purchase downloads of music. So far no one seems to have found anything wrong with this practice.

But that’s not all. Canada’s own CBC Television Network tried their own experiment by releasing an episode of their program Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister via BitTorrent. Unfortunately the BitTorrent didn’t work so well because of Bell Canada’s CRTC approved BitTorrent “throttling”.

Geist tweets about the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation

Which is not to say it wasn’t a good idea. Not too long ago Michael Geist tweeted about the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation‘s foray into BitTorrent use. All accounts indicate that their experiment was very successful indeed, which is having a big impact in the way they do business.

Ink Poster

The sad tale of a pirated Independent film can be found in this TorrentFreak article Indie Movie Explodes on BitTorrent, Makers Bless Piracy.

I guess it isn’t such a sad story after all.  

Thanks to piracy this Indie film called INK was has been achieving a distribution level that the filmmakers had never dreamed of.  They are of course extraordinarily pleased.

I think what is being called piracy here is BitTorrent p2p personal use sharing. Friends sharing with friends is one of the most effective ways to achieve recognition. They used to call it a “grass roots” movement. This is one of the major issues for the large movie studios. This is the place where they complain of being ripped off. What they don’t seem to realize is that this is a good thing. Exposure garners fans, makes a “name”. Fans buy stuff.

BitTorrent Traffic is not the only thing Bell Canada is Throttling

keys
Rumour has it that there are people who actually work from home.

Time was the government encouraged the idea of people working from home. There are all sorts of advantages to society, like reduced congestion on actual highways, less wear and tear on our roads, a decrease in commuting based pollutants in our environment, a reduction of human depletion of fossil fuels.

But if you work from home, you are probably going to have to transfer files back and forth between your home and workplace. Chances are good that you are going to encrypt this type of traffic for security reasons. Although Bell Canada says they are only “throttling” BitTorrent traffic, in fact there have been instances of Bell throttling encrypted internet traffic on the assumption that if it’s encrypted, it must be BitTorrent traffic.

Bell places the onus on the customer to prove their “innocence” before they will consider stopping throttling.

Since the CRTC gave Bell Canada permission to use Deep Packet Inspection to inspect our packets, the only way to ensure that our private information remains private is through encryption. And in Canada any encrypted internet traffic will most likely to be throttled.

Canadian Copyright Consultation

The Canadian Government is looking at updating Canadian copyright law. They held a copyright consultation process this year, traveling around Canada soliciting opinions of stakeholders. Even better, they set up a website where they accepted submissions from any Canadian who wished to contribute. This website was flooded with thousands of submissions. Some are simply a few lines, some are extensive essays covering all sorts of topics, but all I’ve read are heartfelt. Because of the overwhelming response it took a long time to get all the submissions posted. (My own submission finally made online.)

This process led a lot of Canadians, including me, to believe that the copycon process might actually mean that our elected representatives were listening to us.

Unfortunately there is currently a lot of pressure on our government to make copying movies, software and music for personal use illegal. The secret ACTA meetings have caused a feeling of dread to settle over most Canadians. There has been deprecating talk about weak Canadian copyright law.

Except it isn’t true.canadian copyright

If anything, Canadian copyright law is probably more robust than is good for us.

The essential problem that the copyright lobby is attempting to overcome the problem of suing their own customers for what they imagine are infringements. They have noticed that fighting personal use copying garners bad publicity. This problem can be neatly solved by passing the responsibility for finding and prosecuting copyright infringement to governments. And of course the only was to get government to take ob the responsibility is to convince them that the copyright infringement is a criminal offense.

Regardless, currently copyright law is imprecise as regards personal use copying. So we’ll just have to wait for an actual law to be passed before it becomes illegal. (This pressure is actually largely from foreign owned interests– like Disney. It will be interesting to see if our government caves to this outside pressure.)

mixed messages


The government mandated levy we pay every time we purchase a blank CD is a tacit governmental admission that it is legal to burn CDs of our own music.

In the pre-Tivo era, Canadian cable networks actively encouraged Canadians to videotape the movies that they showed so we could watch them when it was convenient. They called it “time shifting” in their massive advertising campaigns. But no media giants took our cable companies to court back then. For the same reason artists will lend or give away their work for free when they’re starting out (because they need to build and audience– exactly like the INK producers mentioned above), back then even Disney didn’t have a channel in Canada. So Disney didn’t kick up a fuss even though they had to have known this was happening. They let it go because it was in their best interests to allow time shifting (i.e personal use copying). Disney knew this was in their best interests because it would help the Canadian cable companies build their market.

Of course now Disney doesn’t want us to record their movies for personal use. Disney would be happy if our government decided personal use copying was illegal. They would be happier still if our government spent time and energy searching out and charging people who download Disney movies.

Disney would be happy they no longer had to expend time and energy chasing down copyright infringements. They would be ecstatic if our Mounties were to do it for them. Gratis.

But this precedent indicates copying movies for personal use is also legal in Canada

So even though p2p networks or copying movies and music are not actually illegal in Canada, our friends the CRTC gave Bell Canada permission to “throttle” anyone using BitTorrent transfers. Because the assumption is that even if you’re not technically performing criminal acts, per se, anyone who uses BitTorrent can’t be very nice.

The CRTC, the government body that is supposed to safeguard Canadian telecommunication consumers, gave Bell Canada legal permission to mess with BitTorrent traffic. Its discriminatory for one thing. If there are copyright infringements happening, there are laws to handle them. It isn’t any of Bell Canada’s business. Or the CRTC’s.

[More on copyright in my other blog-- in the wind: Personal Use Copying vs. Bootlegging]

Dudley Do-Right?

Eirik Solheim's metaphorical image of the internet is the best I've seen: The internet is a series of tubes

Even if it were true that Canadian consumers were downloading music or movies, and even if it had been made illegal under Canadian Law, it should not make a whit of difference.

Because Internet Service Providers or Internet Carriers are NOT branches of Canadian law enforcement. They have not been deputized to enforce the law by the RCMP. If Bell Canada was in fact a Law Enforcement entity they would not be allowed to peek in any citizen’s packets without first acquiring a search warrant. Corporations don’t exist to uphold laws, they exist to make money.

The internet has been called dumb pipes, or a series of tubes, or a highway. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, what is most important is access for all.  
The people who control the pipes should not be allowed to discriminate against particular users for ANY reason. Net Neutrality is so important: the internet should be accessible to all.

revolutionary ideas

In the United Kingdom The Times Online Do music artists fare better in a world with illegal file-sharing? article looked at the benefits of personal use copying applied as peer to peer file sharing with some dramatic results.

Canada’s own ThisMagazine presented this thought provoking article Pay indie artists and break the music monopoly — Legalize Music Piracy which advocates making the law serve the artists and consumers rather than just the corporations.

Further rumblings about changing the way we look at this issue were reported recently by the The Globe and Mail blogs article NDP, Billy Bragg make case for free music


http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/
sign the petition!
10227 signatures

 

STOP Usage Based Billing

Posted in Changing the World, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,676 other followers