The Battle Over Internet Filtering

Earlier this week I attended a seminar in Brussels on the "telecoms package" currently before the European Parliament [partial video].  One of the most controversial elements in the package are the prospect for mandated ISP filtering or blocking of allegedly copyright infringing materials.  Those requirements would build on other national and international developments including the still-secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and the "three strikes and you're out" policies ("graduated response") in some European countries.

The seminar was illuminating since all of the most vocal stakeholders were in attendance (either as part of the panel or in the audience) and most were pretty transparent about their interests in the issue.  I walked away with the following scorecard:
Rights holder groups – They are frustrated with the ineffectiveness of DRM and anti-circumvention legislation and so have moved to other "solutions" focused on the role of ISPs and technology companies.  Their emphasis is now on forcing ISPs to drop subscribers that are alleged to infringe (graduated response), mandated inclusion of  anti-copying technologies into consumer devices ("technical mandates"), ISP filtering/blocking of infringing content, and stronger cross-border enforcement initiatives (ACTA).

Telecom companies – They oppose filtering requirements, which are viewed as expensive and ineffective.  They are more comfortable with terminating high volume Internet subscribers, particularly file sharers (ie. recent UK graduated response agreement).

Software companies – Represented by the Business Software Alliance at the seminar, they oppose technical mandates, which are viewed as encroachment on their ability to innovate.  They favour the continued use of DRM, which their members sell, as well as graduated response.

Technology companies – Represented by Intel at the seminar, they also oppose filtering and technical mandates, which are viewed as encroachment on their ability to innovate.  Clear support for DRM and self-regulated technical mandates (ie. industry negotiated digital lock standards).

The consumer representatives on the panel were left to play defense on every front, with concerns about privacy, free speech, creativity, and the fundamental shift in the Internet and technology if this comes to pass.  With DRM on one end and filtering on the other, the seminar left the unmistakable impression that the public is in the middle and is about to get squeezed.


  1. This is getting ridiculous.
    I have a question for you Michael G. Does NATO know of ACTA and what its’ intentions are?

  2. Security guy says:

    Clear solution
    It is clear that sometime soon consumers who want privacy will need to reach for their wallet. With a domestic VPN solution ontop of your internet connection you can encrypt all your internet traffic and avoid all forms of privacy invasion. It effectively moves your internet traffic from “Postal Card” mode to a real “Sealed Enveloppe” mode.

    That really is the only solution. Who thinks the small people can beat multimegahypermilnnaires lobby at making enslavement laws ?

  3. DRM of any kind always fails
    all i have to say is hackity hack hack, and crackity crack crack, like a missle defense system its is going to cost more money then it saves and only then ramp up canada’s already OVERPRICED internet costs, and be a large waste of time. That any intelligent human would consider it is a fool.

    ANOTHER FORM A DRM, that is doomed to fail.

  4. Jourdespoir says:

    Can we just say that is my computer???
    I am really concerned over that article.

    The consummer, the people using their computer, should get users rights!

    What are the right for me to use my computer ??

    Do the DRM circumvent my right of using my computer?

    Do a ISP filtering and ISP spying on their customer, circumbent my right of privacy, my right to use the service I pay, the right to use my HARDDRIVE and Modem, has I wish?

    I really don’t know what is going on, but it seems to me, that my rights are simple to pay for something that I cannot enjoy has his best!

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t encourage “pirating”, but I encourage my users rights to be taken seriously. It’s really a shame to see the government that is suppose to represent me, represent all but me in that case.

    For me, digital data, electrical bandwith, my computer, is a lot of thing I pay for. I don’t want any party to interfere with my rights to uses my technologies beyond that point. I don’t care if RIAA can’t protect their owns good. I don’t care if they get stolen over and over. But I care when they try to limit my RIGHTS to use what I OWN.

    So, in that regard, I will always use my technologies has I intend to, for the sake of my freedom to uses my technologies. And screw those bastards.

    In the going war against my right, the RIAA is going to make enemies from the citizenship of FREEDOM. And that will cause them more grieves than they can expected.


  5. bah
    @Security guy
    VPN would do nothing. “alledged” is reason enough to terminate your service.

    scarey article….

  6. Right On jourdespoir
    I couldn’t agree more…

  7. john trenouth says:

    Is this where we are headed?
    Malaysian government orders ISPs to block critical blogs.

    [ link ]

    Is this where we are headed? First step to get the legal, political and technical apparatus in place under the guide of copyright protection. Then use it squash critical opinion?

    Are we really trying to catch up to Malaysia?

  8. Awareness
    So this basically comes down to an ISP, software, and a few computer driven scripts as the judge, jury and executioner. Great 😉 Three strikes and your out. Out of what exactly? Life? Time? Toilet Paper?

    Seriously though, we as consumers should be aware of these kinds of things. That is, not buried as a newspaper back story (present blog excluded of course). In the likes of front page news in print and T.V. media would be more like it.

    I wonder how many people could tell you what DRM is? or the DMCA? Chances are the majority have never heard of these terms and more than likely, don’t even care.

    My fear is these restrictions will be made law, regulations, etc. because the parties responsibly are counting on public apathy.

  9. Forward not Backward!
    I think ISP’s here in Canada will find it very hard to implement the graduated response idea, and around the world. The EU Parliament has already thrown out this idea, and it poses a risk to our fundamental rights in a free society. The EU Parliament warned about this, when they threw it out. This will cost ISP’s and industry dearly since a proposal such as the graduated response idea would be sure to be challenged by our court system, and I can’t see our supreme court rule that rights holders rights trump that of our Charter. Nor could I see this be a success in the US either. It’s a pipedream, and those responsible for putting something like this into place will be held accountable financially for it.

    There are already positive more forward looking solutions in this debate, and one has to question why industry is so set on controlling society rather than joining in it, and looking at alternative solutions. The more you `punish` consumers, the more they will rebel and find other ways to get their products and services online. This is a fact, and something that should have been learned over the past decade. What`s next an Ipod that will start to shock and burn you for every download that`s not from Itunes. Common.

    It’s industries responsibility to come up with Ideas and join the marketplace and consumer. It’s not the industries nor Governments responsibility to force consumers to the marketplace on their terms, and punish consumers for consuming products in a different way.

    The power of these lobbyists is amazing, so is the stupidity behind some of these idea`s they are putting forth to actually these idea`s will work in the long term. That’s the problem, these industries have money but no brains behind them, nor an understanding of what’s taken place. Governments listen to only lobbyists who`s interest is monopolizing the market, we will be in for some very serious economic times. One would expect those representing the public interest to have brains. Hopefully the election in the US will boot most of these corporate payoffs out of global government, and we can move forward in this debate and do what`s best for both sides, and for the future of these industries.

    Gerd Leonhard “the media futurist” considered in my books to be one of the world foremost independent researchers in media has published a book called Music 2.0, and whatever happens in this debate, I think Mr. Leonhard’s views on what needs to be done will end up being the solution to all of this. The responsibility as to how fast we get there, and how much money is lost between now and then is now solely on the shoulders of our elected officials, and by the end of this will have some explaining to do if we continue down another 10 years and demise of these industries because they didn’t listen to anyone else, nor studied the independent research that is currently available.

    Gerd Leonhard’s book “Music 2.0” can be found here: [ link ]


  10. all your base are belong to us
    oh LIKE 7gb of data dealing with DRM by acta like scenario that is in OUR hands

    like media defender source code

    see what they spend on it and consumers have to pay for stupidity.

    As i will say people, the world may not be perfect but there is a way we all can share, if the mpaa one day gets that, perhaps there will be a peace, till then,
    all your base belongs to us.

    The power of a lobbiest
    i dont have to be right
    i just have to prove your wrong

    do i have to have money to have that ideal?
    do i have to spell perfectly for you to understand?
    does mentors words ever get heard?
    when does it become a crime when you the artist ask too much?
    when does it happen that all hte money on earth cannot help you?

    answer these for yourselves, and you can unlock DRM forever.

    Ya know if the mpaa was so good at DRM why has there own website been hacked to shit several times.

    Why did SONY buy off a hacker ( one out of 5 of us thathad it and get that rootkit that hacked so many)

    WHY do kids deface and tell the same people how to fix stuff that would put them away for life.

    THIS should be totally killed.
    ANY government in canada that brings any legislation like or simular will pay.

    if you want to show monetization
    appoint NON lawyer types and real people to help admin this.

    do you think my spelling aside i might not be good at it?
    230 million in cdr levies and artists arent gettting a fair cut
    CRIA aka RIAA is ripping canada off yes. if then you want a fair piece a that lets double the levy and take over that and have a internet vote for who helps admin it.
    lets be the solution
    or else this will get worse adn it will get more radical
    you will drive the ripping to the real underworld
    people whom just as soon shoot you coming up to catch them.

  11. > see what they spend on it and consumers have to pay for stupidity.

    It’s funny people still don’t get it. DRM Works! Yes, DRM Works!! Your statement right there proves it works: “consumers have to pay.” Paying consumers is proof DRM Works as intended. DRM isn’t designed to work on 100% of the people; even on 10% or 1% of the population, it still means profit and still means DRM Works. DRM isn’t intended to stop “piracy” or counterfeits; and it’s a myth they want you to believe.

    > one has to question why industry is so set on controlling society rather than joining in it, and looking at alternative solutions.

    Because, the media cartels had an oligopoly on the market. If you had this type of monopoly, you can do little for maximum gain with minor risks. Your proposal for them to release control means dismantling their monopoly on the market, which is laughable. They would have to work harder for less with higher risks.

    When people realize the truth and give up their cartel-approved iFix, perhaps cartel-lobbying will cease. Until then, more bad laws and restrictions welcome. Since, without them, people wouldn’t care about what they consume and they only care about their right to consume it.

  12. Is creating art and entertainment the ne
    Is creating art and entertainment the new welfare?

    Why do artists only have to work once in their life while the rest of us have to have jobs? Copyrighting has gone insane.

    I’m sure Johnson and Johnson would love if they could attach a pedometer to every patient my team puts a new J&J artificial knee or hip into and charge them per step. The moral implications of this are clear in medicine, but do not apply to art for some reason.

  13. Re: Tom
    >Because, the media cartels had an oligopoly on the market. If you had this type of monopoly, you can do >little for maximum gain with minor risks. Your proposal for them to release control means dismantling >their monopoly on the market, which is laughable. They would have to work harder for less with higher >risks.

    It’s unfortunate for them yes, but it’s not up to the cartels to change the market to reflect their needs. It must really suck now to actually go to work, and put a hard day in. They now have to sell product, rather than letting the sales drop on their laps without any work. Damn, that must be so hard for them. In business you follow the marketplace. When times get tough you work harder. Anyone who has a job should be able to understand that concept especially if you’ve worked in sales before.

    The monopoly and market share of these cartels have already fallen. Globalization of the media industry is to blame for that. None the less they blame internet piracy for that. It’s the refusal to accept the enviable and put the demise of this failure on the consumer (without them you don’t have a business in the first place). What’s needed is a training course on customer service.

    Whether the flat rate fee idea and an open marketplace may seem laughable to you from the outside, from the inside these cartels have already lost the battle and are on borrowed time. This is the future of this industry, and an open market is already here. The only ones not participating in it, are the ones who “used” to own the market share and are fighting to get it back. C-61 is absurd, and it shows those in public office have not done their homework. They need to take up an interest in this debate, and study the marketplace as it exists today. Vote accordingly in the weeks ahead!

    Look at the US as an example. Has the law done anything to curb “internet piracy”? NO! Other governments that have passed laws such as internet filtering etc, will turn out to be a failure as well. Ways around those filters are available today. You can’t stop file sharing! Just because governments are looking at implementing such policies, doesn’t necessarily mean they will.

    The cartels put on a public persona that they are “winning” the battle, but quite the opposite is true, within the industry (talent) and in public opinion. All of the file sharing civil court cases that actually went to trial in the US have been a dismal failure. The RIAA ended up owing defendants legal costs in most cases. The only 1 case that they did win last October is about to be overturned. The last time they tried a file sharing case here in Canada, downloading off of P2P became legal. Simply put, talent in the media industry are looking elsewhere for representation. Without the talent, you don’t have a business, nor a share or place in the marketplace any more. That my friend has already happened in Canada.

    The CRIA no longer represent the majority of musical talent in this country, and globally the “big” 4 labels are losing their talent pool at a rapid pace. They no longer hold any real market share in today’s industry, nor the majority of the talent pool, and should not be a driving force for change in laws in this debate. They are no longer relevant in the marketplace as they once were. They just have a pool of money that’s drying up fairly quickly to pay off public officials, and lobby to get their way, and in most cases fight tooth and nail to be heard. There is no longer a monopoly.

  14. I was wondering if anyone knows anything about the large numbers of copyright infringement notices on movie sites in the last couple of weeks from Google. Either these sites or the notices aren’t found this week with the same search. I don’t have the exact wording, but the title of the page comes up on a searcy with a warning from Google that this site may have been infringing on copyright instead of content from the site in the results list. I’m concerned about the “may”. Does Google delist sites before investigating the claims of copyright infringement?