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APIG Asks to Hear From Consumers on DRM
Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:00 AM EST

The All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG) in the UK was contacted by a volunteer to determine whether they were interested in hearing from consumers as part of their announced study of DRM, and they confirm that they are very interested ("very keen") indeed to hear from the public on the subject of digital rights management (see previous article for details on their study). They would like to figure out to what degree protection is needed for both copyright holders and consumers.

In fact, they have provided guidelines on how to present case studies and submissions for those who wish to participate, along with suggested reading prior to preparing the material, which I reproduce here. Note the proposed legislation they would like you to read first, including "Proposal for a EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND COUNCIL DIRECTIVE on criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rights," or "IPRED2" [PDF].

This is the proposed legislation that would make all intentional infringements of "intellectual property rights" of a commercial nature a criminal offense, with penalties to include jail time "and/or monetary fines sufficient to provide a deterrent". It also covers "attempting, aiding or abetting and inciting such offences."

Other penalties are provided for specific cases: "destruction of infringing goods and goods principally used in the manufacture of the goods in question, total or partial closure, on either a permanent or a temporary basis, of the establishment or shop primarily used to commit the infringement. Provision is also made for a permanent or temporary ban on engaging in commercial activities, placement under judicial supervision or judicial winding-up, and a ban on access to public assistance or subsidies. Finally, the publication of judicial decisions is provided for. This can serve as a means of dissuasion and as a channel of information both for right holders and for the public at large."

I think they forgot to add putting them in stocks in the public square to shame them. Oh, and the rack. Well, next time. They might consider a Scarlet Letter for repeat offenders, if we wish to be thorough. Just stamp a big red "I" ("Infringer") on their foreheads or make them wear one on their chests, so we all know who these criminals are.

Now, I'd never tell anyone how to vote. But I can explain to you what I think the legalese is saying. Think of it this way: If the US had such a law, Shawn Fanning and the Grokster folks would be in jail, their businesses shuttered, the materials, including all the computers and servers, seized, they'd be monitored, and they'd not be allowed to continue the business or start a new one, maybe forever, or to apply for public assistance. I guess they mean after they get out of the slammer, since the public will be paying to feed and house them during their visit to jail, and monitoring is what it's all about in there. Oh, and their punishment would be published in the media. No doubt a perp walk, for our edification and the deterrent effect. And their publicists, secretaries, suppliers, programmers, venture capital providers, and all who helped out can get tossed in with them. They have aided and abetted heinous crimes, like copyright infringement, have they not? Note the law covers all intellectual property, not just copyright infringement. So you can become a jailbird for trademark infringement. Patents too.

Best not to have any new and innovative ideas that later -- surprise! -- turn out to be judged as an infringement of someone's Most Holy IP. I daresay there will be no new ideas at all, actually, after this law is passed. Do you know, 100%, when you first invent an iPod whether or not some court somewhere will decide someday you are aiding and abetting piracy? Can you imagine any VC investing in the next iPod? They are risking jail time with every investment in innovation. Now, you may be secretly harboring the view that some VC companies deserve a little jail time, if you've ever dealt with one, but I think we can agree that they are not known for taking on risks like a stay in the pokey. So VC money for innovation will dry up.

You know, I think these legislators actually do think intellectual property "pirates" really are pirates. You know, the kind who attack your ship with a knife in their teeth, take your gold and your ship, and kill you. That has to be the explanation for the severity of the punishments being considered.

Say, now that I think of it, isn't Google being sued right now by the Author's Guild for alleged copyright infringement? What if Google were to lose that lawsuit? Would Brin have to go to jail? And Microsoft is regularly sued for infringing intellectual property. They don't always win. Think Eolas, the case where Microsoft was found guilty of patent infringement and the Supreme Court itself refused to help them get off. And SCO is accused of infringing IBM's copyrights by distributing IBM's GPL'd contributions to Linux after SCO's license terminated for GPL violations. I personally think that'll be a slamdunk for IBM.

Hmm. I'm starting to see some good points in this law.

Joke. Joke. But you see, the problem is, any time there is something new, somebody wants to sue you to make you stop, usually the industry whose business model you are replacing. At first, they often succeed in the courts. If the laws aid and abet their anticompetitive strategies, you can ruin innovation, nothing less. Read Larry Lessig's book, Free Culture, if you'd like a list of such historic events. Last year, I did a reading of Chapters 4 and 5 [MP3 or Ogg], about the history of the media being a history of piracy, if you prefer to listen than to read. It's not a great recording, because I lacked equipment, skills, and experience. I even cough at one point, so I apologize for that. But it just happens to be the chapters on the history of such happenings. Here's more and better audio.

Now, under this law, you'll be throwing all those innovators in jail. And when they get out, they are never allowed to go into any business ever again. Think that might be abused for a competitive advantage? That's how I read the legalese, anyway. Throw in some loathsome DRM, and you've got a throttle on not only innovation but on the Internet and on culture itself. And who benefits? Microsoft, one assumes. Sony. Nike. The entertainment industry. Disney. Entities like that. Drug companies with patents on drugs third world countries can't afford. It's just a short-term benefit though. Eventually, when no one dares to innovate, the economy withers and we all suffer.

APIG says they prefer digital submissions, which should be about 1,000 words, with any essential statistics or details added as appendices. You email it to admin@apig.org.uk and mark your submission if you do not wish it to be published. The deadline is December 21. APIG may invite some organizations and individuals to give oral testimony in January, at their discretion.

****************************

APIG DRM Inquiry: Guidelines for Witnesses

The All Party Parliamentary Internet Group announced its inquiry into the "Digital Rights Management" on November 15th 2005. The inquiry is anxious to receive as wide a range of submissions as possible.

Documents of relevance to the inquiry include:

Current UK Law on Copyright, summary page

Current EU Law on Copyright & Neighbouring Rights, summary page

** "IPRED2" [PDF], the proposed 2nd "Intellectual Property" Rights Enforcement Directive {SEC(2005)848

Written submissions should be concise and address the matters raised by the inquiry, concentrating on the issues with which the witness has a special interest. A typical length would be about 1,000 words. Essential statistics or further details can be added as appendices.

It would be very much preferred if written submissions were made in an electronic format. They should be in plain text (ASCII), Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word .DOC or .RTF format. Submissions should be dated and include the name, address and telephone number of the person in the organisation who is responsible for the submission. They should be sent via email to admin@apig.org.uk

It is at the inquiry's discretion to publish any evidence it receives. Any information that a witness would not wish to be considered for publication should be clearly marked.

The inquiry has asked for all written evidence to be submitted by 21st December 2005. The Officers of APIG following consideration of written evidence, will decide, which organisations and individuals to invite to give oral evidence in Westminster in January 2006.


  


APIG Asks to Hear From Consumers on DRM | 134 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here please
Authored by: seanlynch on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:08 AM EST
Please list any corrections in this thread please.

Thank You.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic Thread
Authored by: seanlynch on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:11 AM EST
Please place Off Topic discussions under this thread.

To use clickable links, follow the instructions in red on the Post a Comment
page.

Thank You.

[ Reply to This | # ]

APIG Asks to Hear From Consumers on DRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:12 AM EST
Practically all holders of intellectual property rights want them to be used.
For example, when a book says 'No copying without permission', the publisher
really means 'If you would like to copy and sell this book, contact me. I will
quote you a price. It saves me a lot of work if you will do the printing and
distribution, if you can pay me the money and I give you the permission'.
Slinging people into jail, with their food and water paid for by public funds,
is not the idea at all.

[ Reply to This | # ]

APIG Asks to Hear From Consumers on DRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:52 AM EST
I'm thinking, with these penalties, we ought to follow Abbie Hoffman's sage
advice (I'm old), and "steal this record" if we want to listen to
music. Shoplifting penalites aren't that bad.

[ Reply to This | # ]

APIG Asks to Hear From Consumers on DRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:55 AM EST
What is the US law about claiming to own a copyright (or patent) that in fact
belongs to someone else, or does not exist ?
I think that is a criminal offence which carries jail time and /or a fine if you
commit it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

IP in the UK
Authored by: CnocNaGortini on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 09:57 AM EST
Here's a bad case from the past (BBC article): Firm sees red over orange trademark (excerpt follows):
A small glazing company faces legal action - for having orange vans.

Roger Moody, of Sheffield firm Glass and Glazing, is accused of infringing trademark laws.

Property care group Dyno-rod, which includes a glazing firm, says it owns the copyright on the day-glo colour and has told Mr Moody to repaint his vehicles.

...

Mr Moody added that Dyno-rod also wanted the glazing firm to hand over anything it had that was orange - including his tie and the jumper.

[ Reply to This | # ]

APIG Asks to Hear From Consumers on DRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 10:00 AM EST
So I'll have to do the Free Software for the charities I support (who only get
anything if someone gives ... non-commercial, by definition).
And I'll have to send my children to schools which are charities, so I can help
them out, too.
There's a risk that it will all work, too. Actually, it's the only software that
will.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: guess where Microsoft will strike next.
Authored by: Stumbles on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 10:15 AM EST
So the feds are getting into SOA and all those great things that Microsoft ..... well I could expand but won't.

GSA Modernizes With Open-Source Stack

---
You can tune a piano but you can't tune a fish.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"intentional" and "commercial"
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 10:23 AM EST
It all comes down to the meaning of those two words.

For "intentional", who has the burden of proof? What is
the standard of evidence? Do you mean just intentional
copying (even if no intent to violate copyright), or must
the intent be to violate copyright?

For commercial, does P2P trading count? It could, if we
consider the expectation of getting other works to be a
kind of barter.

If both terms were taken narrowly, this law wouldn't be
all that bad. If the terms are taken broadly though,
this law is pure evil.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Real pirates
Authored by: ssavitzky on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 10:27 AM EST

I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I think it needs to be spread around: the internet is a lot like the sea: it's a separate place -- a different kind of place -- that touches the land at many points but isn't part of it.

If you think of a computer connected to the internet as being like a ship at sea, you understand that a pirate is someone who boards your ship and tries to sink it or steal your cargo -- a virus writer or somebody like Sony.

---
Never anger a bard, for your name sounds funny and scans to Greensleeves.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Real pirates - Authored by: PJ on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 05:56 PM EST
APIG Asks to Hear From Consumers on DRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 10:31 AM EST
well, I won't be a deterrent, really. Look at all the replicas, smuggled
cigarettes, and reproduced CDs & DVDs that are offered in the high streets /
near supermarkets in London, and you realise it is just another spit in the wind

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nice rant, 8/10
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 11:05 AM EST
Tell me, when you were a paralegal, did you habitually skip over vital parts of
laws, like the "intentional" part of this proposal?

Let's not let boring old facts get in the way of a good polemic, shall we?

[ Reply to This | # ]

APIG Asks to Hear From Consumers on DRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 11:56 AM EST
I create stuff for my employer. Some of it he ships under a 'commercial'
copyright, WebSphere-style. Some of it he ships under an 'artistic' copyright,
GlueCode-style. Either way he intends to make loads of money from the 'services'
business.
I would really dislike it, if Mr. Policeman came and put some user or
distributor of my work into prison. That would not really help anybody.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sony as a case study
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 12:12 PM EST
Perhaps we should propose the current Sony DRM Fiasco as a case study.

We should discuss how, if this were in place right now, DVD John could use it to
shut down Sony in the EU.

If we are enthusiastic enough, they will never realize that we are taking the
mickey, but they _might_ stop to think about how that's not really the intended
consequence.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A real-world DRM-free approach to deterring piracy
Authored by: unixan on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 12:17 PM EST
I know of a music band who largely escape attempts to pirate (mass duplicate) their albums, while giving listeners more music to listen to.

The band in question is Saviour Machine, and 5 of their 7 albums have more than 74 minutes of music on a CD. These large CDs, each of them DRM-free, both bless the band's loyal listeners with more music — and apparently cause trouble on black market duplicators using standard size (cheap) blank CDs.

Rather than spend more money to acquir larger blank CDs, a propospective pirate usually ignores the troublesome album, and moves on to smaller music CDs that duplicate just fine.

Such as Sony's rootkit "protected" CDs. :)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some (likely dumb) thoughts on IP
Authored by: philc on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 01:05 PM EST
I think it is time to think of IP in a similar way that we think of tangable
property. I think that to the consumer (end user/buyer), there should be a lot
of similarity.

1) You buy it you own it. No strings attached. Do whatever you like, as long as
it is legal, and as long as you don't violate copyright laws that are common
with physical published material. Basically, don't make copies for other people.
You can make copies for your own personal use (e.g., a backup copy of software
or a song bought on-line, copy a song into a mp3 player, and such).

2) You can sell it, transport it, break it, throw it away, disassemble it and
use the parts elsewhere. (Again no copying). When it is sold it is gone, you
keep none of it.

3) The purchase is anonymous. Nobody tracks the purchase or what you do with the
product.

4) Treat theft based on dollar amount of what is taken. We have lots of laws on
theft of physical property.

5) DRM and such should, first, protect the rights of the buyer and then the
rights of the seller.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Can I explain?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 01:11 PM EST
This is a proposal for an EU Directive, that is, an instruction that the member
states have to incorporate into their individual national laws - this will be
done in various ways in accordance with the legal system in each state.

The EU is concerned with issues affecting trade between member states. Copyright
is obviously such an issue - but the stopping of infringement on a commercial
scale is also an issue affecting trade between member states. It would obviously
be unfair if one state allowed the manufacture of infringing products due to
inadequate legal measures to stop it - the nature of the EU is such that goods
are free to move across national boundaries, stopping illicit trade needs to be
done at 'source'.

The purpose of the penalties is to stop illicit trade in infringing goods. In
the UK we have a tradition of allowing judges freedom to apply a range of
penalties from an unconditional discharge to the maximum that the law allows.

To understand the range of penalties imposed, it is neccessary to consider the
range of offences that may be committed. Consider the worse case; a gang of
counterfeiters manufacturing CDs and DVDs on a large scale. Suppose when some
are arrested, the others simply move the equipment elsewhere. Suppose the
organisers are directors of 'front' companies set up to conceal their illegal
activities. Fines are likely to be useless in these circumstances. Imprisonment
of the principal offenders, destruction of stock and equipment, winding up of
companies, and disqualification of directors from holding that position again
may be the appropriate measures to take.

But it would all depend on circumstances. In the UK, a fine is the usual penalty
for a company that breaks the law in the course of what would otherwise be a
legitimate business. Individuals may be only subject to a mild penalty for a
first offence.

Alan(UK)

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Can I explain? - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 02:05 PM EST
  • Can I explain? - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 02:06 PM EST
    • Not at all likely - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 03:31 PM EST
Room and Board
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 01:32 PM EST
"I guess they mean after they get out of the slammer, since the public will
be paying to feed and house them during their visit to jail,..."

Some places they charge you room and board for your jail time, if they think you
can pay. If you weren't broke when you went in, you may very well may be when
you get out!

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Room and Board - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 02:09 PM EST
This article deals with a political matter.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 21 2005 @ 03:09 PM EST
Does it stay within the Groklaw guidelines?

[ Reply to This | # ]

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