Saturday, August 18, 2012

Can we trust the MPAA with our internet?

Originally posted 07/20/2011 on

The EFF has taken a closer look at agreement reached between big content providers (read MPAA and RIAA) and major ISP's (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc.) to help enforce copyright, and it's not very pretty. Corynne McSherry and Eric Goldman report on what they found in the Deeplinks blog.

I strongly recommend you read their report, but a few of the major points are:

There are no checks and balances. All input on the process comes from content providers and ISP's. Consumers have a single representative who can speak only when spoken to.

There is no due process. All that is required for an ISP to start punishing a user is accusation by a content provider.

Consumers have few rights under the agreement. There is limited time (10 days) to formulate a response.

The entire process assumes guilt. Instead of the content providers having to provide proof of infringement, consumers have to prove lack of it. This turns US law on it's head.

There is no transparency. I can't say it any better than they do in their blog:

The MOU contemplates ongoing evaluation of the system through a variety of reports. That seems like a good idea, but neither subscribers nor the general public get to see or comment on those reports. Similarly, the statement of “prevailing legal principles” used to instruct reviewers also should be made public so that subscribers know how reviewers are interpreting U.S. copyright law. Simply put, if subscribers are supposed to treat the system as credible, they need enough information to determine that the system actually is credible.

This agreement concerns me. We are a connected household and use massive amounts of bandwidth every month. According to our ISP, between 4 and 5 times the average for homes with our data plan, which is enough to download 20 or more DVD's. I can almost gaurantee that I will be going through this process if my ISP is one of those involved. Instead of them having to prove I'm guilty, I'll have to prove I'm innocent. In theory I shouldn't have any trouble doing that, but I shouldn't have to. Our criminal justice system is built on the idea that I am innocent until proven guilty. Corporations shouldn't be able to ignore that because it makes their lives easier.