February 13th, 2008


British internet users to get the boot.

It looks like the British are likely to soon find themselves shut out of an open 'net. 

People who download unauthorized materials will be cut off from the internet under new legislation to be proposed next week, based upon recent French legislation. 

Internet service providers (ISPs) will be asked to voluntarily comply with the new proposals soon, and, should they refuse, the big media companies behind these proposals will take legal and/or legislative actions to compel them to take action against users who access material that the music, film, and television producers claim is pirated. 

That's really the big point here... it's not that people will be busted for pirating, per se. It's that they will be busted for downloading material that some company claims is copyrighted. Could that be a mash-up? A fansubbed overseas television show? A YouTube video? A link on a friend's weblog or on one of the many music-oriented weblogs out there? An mp3 or copy thereof that was originally free on an artist's website? A mp3 that was legally downloaded under the royalty rights of another country, such as those less expensive overseas music sites? A funny clip from The Daily Show?! Audio that's streaming on a website, perhaps?! 

Short answer: Your guess is as good as mine. 

The definition of what constitutes a "suspected" copyright violation in this case is whatever the content producer in question says it is. In that sense, it does a complete end-run around the law or any kind of legitimate review. You can even imagine situations where more than two different companies claim ownership of copyrights -- such as happened with the whole Michael Jackson / Beatles catalog issue years ago -- and people find themselves permanently losing their ISP connectivity based on illegitimate or conflicting copyright claims.  

And as for any idea of "fair use" or use for educational purposes... well, what's that?! It simply doesn't figure in to the mechanism of enforcement. The law is very grey on such matters in Britain.  There is no effective court of appeal on such service disconnects, and, indeed, those of you who use WiFi could just as easily find your service disconnected because someone out there accessed your open network.  This kind of legislation could destroy the whole concept of free, open public wireless connectivity.

Can anyone say "chilling effect"?


Hillary threatens to destroy the Democratic Party.

Want to hear something scary and destructive? This article from boston.com spells it out...

Hillary Clinton will take the Democratic nomination even if she does not win the popular vote, but persuades enough superdelegates to vote for her at the convention, her campaign advisers say. . . Clinton will not concede the race to Obama if he wins a greater number of pledged delegates by the end of the primary season, and will count on the 796 elected officials and party bigwigs to put her over the top, if necessary. . . "We are interested in acquiring delegates, period,''. . . ""whoever the nominee is, the party will come together behind that nominee. . ."

Slash and burn politics. Wow. She really is like Joe Lieberman. They're *both* McCain supporters.

I just hope that a lot of the superdelegates turn against her for this attitude. I suspect that Howard Dean isn't going to be too thrilled. I suspect that the Democratic Party wants this race over with if Texas and Ohio aren't decisive victories for Hillary.

In any event, she's asking for a permanent vacation to the political wilderness for that kind of attitude.

... and to make things even uglier, this quote from Mark Penn, her campaign pollster:
"Could we possibly have a nominee who hasn't won any of the significant states -- outside of Illinois? That raises some serious questions about Sen. Obama.”

Way to insult 200,000,000 Americans, you overpriced, Roveian turdblossom.