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Imbeciles

I was trying to think of something coherent to say about the Digital Economy Bill published this week, but I'm too damned angry right now.

I'm a self-employed media professional working in the entertainment industry, who earns his living by creating intellectual property and licensing it to publishers. You might think I'd be one of the beneficiaries of this proposed law: but you'd be dead wrong. This is going to cripple the long tail of the creative sector — it plays entirely to the interests of large corporate media organizations and shits on the plate of us ordinary working artists.

Want to write a casual game for the iPhone and sell it for 99 pence? Good luck with that — first you'll have to cough up £50,000 to get it certified as child-friendly by the BBFC. (It's not clear whether this applies to Open Source games projects, but I'm not optimistic that it doesn't.)

Want to publish a piece of shareware over BitTorrent? You're fucked, mate: all it takes is a malicious accusation and your ISP (who are required to snitch on p2p users on pain of heavy fines) will be ordered to cut off the internet connection to you and everyone else in your household. (A really draconian punishment in an age where it's increasingly normal to conduct business correspondence via email and to manage bank accounts and gas or electricity bills or tax returns via the web.) Oh, you don't get the right to confront your accuser in court, either: this is merely an administrative process, no lawyers involved. It's unlikely that p2p access will survive this bill in any form — even for innocent purposes (distributing Linux .iso images, for example).

I've had problems in the past with idiots at Elsevier issuing DMCA takedown notices against legitimately-posted copies of Accelerando, on the basis of a web search conducted by spider. If this bill goes through, it's going to make it difficult for me to distribute fiction for free (encouraging readers to try my work); I don't want to see folks having their connectivity axed just because a filename they downloaded matches something with an ISBN in Amazon's database.

This bill isn't about securing our creative industries. It's about fucking the little guys, depriving them of channels to reach their public, and about protecting the cartel of big media organizations who are threatened by the development of the public internet. And it stinks from the head down.

I don't like to do incandescent anger (I have blood pressure issues). So I don't usually focus on issues like this on my blog (you want me to live long enough to finish the current book before I stroke out, right?). So I'm going to hand you over to Cory Doctorow, who has the goods, and to the Open Rights Group, who need your support.

That's all for now.

UPDATE: There's a petition on the Number 10 Downing Street website, "to abolish the proposed law that will see alleged illegal filesharers disconnected from their broadband connections, without a fair trial". If you live in the UK, I strongly urge you to sign it. While these petitions are in no way binding, large sign-ups send a warning sign to the government and have, in the past, provoked a re-think on controversial legislation. And this is especially likely in the run-up to a general election (which must be held within the next six months).

65 Comments

1:

Wow, it isn't the US doing something stupid with copyrights this time....

2:

Perhaps a bit of civil disobedience is in order? Could the laws be turned against media, parliament? They might change their tune if it was *their* connections getting shut down due to malicious infringement claims. I'm just saying...

3:

JGS: I note that in France nobody has had the temerity to cut off Sarko over his copyright infringements ...

(One law for them, another for us, mutter, grumble.)

4:

Damn this shit pisses me off. It is always about the big companies. Had a discussion with a friend who is a musician recently and she talked about how all the music streaming regulations screwed the artists and put more money in big labels pockets. It's as if they are trying to destroy creativity, thinking, and choice.

5:

Christopher: drop the "It's as if" from your final sentence and it's pretty accurate.

The Money doesn't appreciate competition.

6:

We really need to kill this thing dead. I wrote a long email to my MP last night.

7:

It would not surprise me if the people who wrote the Digital Economy Bill very sincerely believe that it is all about "securing our creative industries"...which to them means "the cartel of big media organizations".
Another assumption I suspect they hold is that self-employed writers and artists only matter if they are media stars, otherwise they owe everything to the 'big media organizations' who have the exquisite good taste to know what the people want.
And furthermore, I suspect that they 'think' dilettantes and other strange people who attempt to 'produce'/'consume' creative materials without the thoughtful and generous assistance of 'big media organizations' threaten creativity itself [oh noes!] by using the public internet to undermine the economic viability of the 'big media organizations' that are the fount of all creativity.
The nonsensical assumptions in the previous three sentences seem to me to be the only way that they could write such a bill and still 'think' they are 'doing good'.

8:

I don't know how political contributions work in the UK, but I suggest that a lot of potentially injured parties start shelling out 10 pounds (or whatever) and form the equivalent of an American political action committee who will happily donate lots of money and volunteer time to any group that will terminate this proposal with extreme prejudice, along with the careers of the associated politicians and bureaucrats. Money talks.

A second question: how does the infamous British libel law deal with this? Can anyone make the case that an administrative ISP cutoff without evidence is a case of libel, and sue?

A third question: want to invest in a lot of samizdat USB and CD drives? Or perhaps, flying radiolink balloons so that people's computers can talk with each other without dealing with an ISP? Or, (gasp!) going back to phone boards, or that wonderful technology that they use in parts of the US, of using the power grid for medium speed digital communications. ISPs are starting to become a barrier to progress. Time to start working around them.

Anyway, I favor the political approach first.

9:

How's that democracy thingamajig working out for you in the UK?

I disagree with your characterisation of these people as "imbeciles". They know full well what they are doing, and that is what makes them all the more dangerous. The more of this kind of thing I see, the more glad I become that I have left the country...

10:

heteromeles: I don't know how political contributions work in the UK ...

Not remotely like they do in the USA. For one thing, political party spending on an election campaign is rigidly capped, and policed (over-spending is an imprisonable offense). An entire general election (650 seats in play!) runs on a budget of less than £80M.

... Which tends in turn to reduce the ability of public pressure groups -- PACs, by any other name -- to buy the legislature directly.

(Usually this is a Good Thing. Not always, however.)

Libel ... that's an interesting angle, and if you've got £25,000 to spare to hire a barrister, it's one worth asking in court. (Again: that's a law that works best if you're rich to start with. And anyway, they're looking into reforming it to stop the misuse. Which this would, unfortunately, qualify as.)

Sneakernet is of course the option. And it is rumoured that MI5 and GCHQ are very unhappy about the whole thing, because it's likely to nudge hordes of ordinary punters towards encrypting their communication, which will wreak havoc with the intelligence services' ability to listen for suspicious chatter.

11:

You really weren't naive enough to think that the public access Internet revolution wouldn't be crushed by a counter-revolution, were you?

Allowing the peasants to communicate freely scares the rich and powerful just as much as Martin Luther scared the Catholic church. Neutering the Internet as a threat to the economic and political order is a very high priority for the oligarchs because open communication threatens their entire power base.

There is very little chance of managing a holding action here. The plan to make the Internet safe for big business has been driven by the Americans (see ACTA) and whatever the American oligarchs want from western countries, they get.

12:

#10:

Don't be surprised if the next American push after criminalizing P2P will be to criminalize individual use of encrypted communications except when conducting business with a recognized corporate entity that has been licensed to use HTTPS.

The security apparatus has been agitating to prohibit private use of encryption ever since PGP escaped. If people use encryption to evade P2P criminalization then the security apparatus will make common cause with the copyright industry and encryption will--along with freedom of expression--be just another fond memory of the short-lived internet renaissance.

13:

We'll be publishing some remarkable numbers from our conference, about how many telecoms people think this legislation will change anything, very soon. Watch this space.

On the downside, there was the "panel" the Government convened about this, that consisted of people from the Premier League, Channel 4, BSkyB, and the record industry. If you're keeping score, that's 50% Murdoch-paid.

What got me was that the Govt's idea of creative industries was the record biz, Murdoch, and not even football - football rights holders, not footballers, managers, clubs, or fans.

You think of all the other stuff that could come under this heading - product designers (Jonathan Ive!), graphic designers, advertising (WPP!), printing and publishing (Penguins!), pharma (GSK!), software (Enswitch! Acision! x thousand firms I don't know!), things Internet (no MySociety!). architects and engineers (Foster & Partners! Ove Arup!), fashion (no, Alex McQueen doesn't get in either), why not the PFA if you want football people...and that's what Timms and Mandelson think of as sufficient representation.

14:

And as concerned as I am for Britons, I also have to worry about the "harmonization" angle...as these insane laws stick in one country or another, the governments in other ones use that as an excuse to ratchet their own laws upward to harmonize. It never seems to go the other way, though...

15:

The infamous Hadopi law has been voted in France, and it's nowhere near as bad as the crap you're describing.

One of the weird parts of that law is the hypothetical software that will protect you from sanctions if you have it installed. It's completely absurd, and obviously cannot work, since as one of the few IT people member of parliament pointed out that you just had to install it on one machine and download with another. What did the government respond to that objection? I shit you not: they said that people only had one computer. I have four in working order, and a couple more -- err no four more now that I think of it -- disassembled in the closet.

Anyway, they're due to publish the spec in december. That is going to be a laugh riot. This is an important part because that non-existent and technically impossible software is a requirement for the law to go into full effect.

Another thing, it's going to be proprietary, most likely Windows-only, and will snoop on everything you do and report data to the publisher. The moron minister in charge of the bill admitted as such in parliament. Imagine how much fun it will be when said publisher gets r00ted and their whole database shows up on p2p, MediaDefender-style. It's going to be fun.

16:

@10: Thanks Charlie:

Might I suggest starting early with the encryption? AFAIK, there's nothing illegal about publishing the key you are using to encrypt your perfectly legal datastream, and telling people that you're now going to be communicating using this perfectly legitimate key that anyone can get whenever they want, so that they can legally communicate with you whenever they want. They just have to make the effort to reach you first.

If enough pointlessly encrypted data flows through the system, any attempts to monitor it for illegal activity will break down under the strain.

Perhaps this will work as a form of passive protest, if the law passes? It will be hell on google, but oh well.

17:

@8, 10: Libel law won't remotely suit the case, it covers the publication of things which are defamatory (I paraphrase). Libel covers the dissemination of information tending to harm the reputation (professional or personal) of some person (person, for our example, meaning Charlie). Other than by word of mouth - dissemination of such information by word of mouth is slander.

A better fit would be to argue that there is a "restraint of trade" - that is to say that cutting off your ISP access would inhibit/has inhibited your ability to practice your profession, but you bet your fur that the framers of any legislation will already have thought of this one, and that if they think it is at all likely to be a viable argument, then the mere fact that the ISP cutting your access is doing so "in pursuance of" the legislation will be stated in the Act as giving a perfect defence against any complaint by the likes of our esteemed host. It would still, even so, be open to Charlie (say) to pursue a remedy through the European Court and/or the Court of Human Rights, but you will need a lot more than £25,000 for a barrister (or get one to take your case for free) and it would take probably at least a decade to successfully fight a case. Meantime, good luck trying to get another ISP to take you on, oh and probably kiss goodbye to any publishing contract at the same time, even if you have the time/energy/inclination to keep writing fiction.

18:

Mandelson.

Its important to realise where this is coming from, and why. Mandelson is pushing for these types of regressive laws, and Mandelson must realise he's out of power after May/June next year. He's after doing one last favour for big media to ensure a lucrative payoff and job from 2010 onwards. It was Mandelson who ignored the proposed regulations and pushed for disconnection despite.

As such it battle isn't Mandelson, its the Lords and the Conservatives. Provided they deep six it, its dead. However if they don't and it gets through, then he gets his pay off.

That little worm has come back so many times, after so much illegality - you just have to assume he's protected by the prince of darkness. Ignore the evil one and focus on winning the argument and turning him out, bereft of the payoff he's working so hard for.

Some exorcism wouldn't hurt either.

19:

I think it's a bad case of "it's like that on the other side of the channel".

I'm from France, and our government use example from Ireland for justifying three strikes approach.

In a case like this, EU is our best hope, because of two institutions :
- parliament (they have more independance from national politics)
- European human right court.

The first one has been rejected, even with two votes with 90+ % (I hate current european organization. The only representative chamber is stripped of its power by the 'autocratic' one, the council).
We have associations preparing to use the second at the first occasion.

But, when I see this repetition, I'm hoping for a better issue for great britain. I don't know britannic legislative process, but I hope it's better than France (which is currently flawed by an absolute majority of presidential parrot's, godillots in french, which mean old shoes.)

20:

How many times has Mandy been sacked? remind me again of the circumstances?
Google Mandelson and Yacht (or Corfu, your choice) and view the evidence for yourselves.

I remember reading Charlie's breakdown on how giving away Accelerando enhance dead-tree sales, I seem to remember Cory doing the same. The Radiohead experiment provided a new business model for the record industry. These mon(b)sters are scared.

Then we have the movie industry, very different from a capital point of view, but bear in mind that they own most of the record companies, not sure how many publishing houses. It comes down to capital and distribution. If a film can be capitalised in other ways (not come across any, but surely it's possible) and distributed via an alternative network the big film companies will try to make it illegal to own a movie camera.

Come to think of it, how would that happen? Just so we can all give young upstarts a chance on alternatives you understand....

21:

Time and again, the thing I can never believe is that the origin of copyright is never considered in the way this legislation is proposed. It started as, and still is a legal mechanism for ensuring FAIR recompense for creative works in order to encourage innovation. There was no extra tablet of stone with "Thou shalt not infringe copyright" carved on it.
Unfortunately, in the course of copyright enforcement it has been very convenient to equate copyright infringement with theft (which did get a mention in the big ten) - it has become possible, therefore, for it to become something that must be upheld, rather than considering it as a pragmatic device for economic growth.
This fallacy is further exacerbated by the idea of Intellectual Property (which I'm told is not an estate agent in Oxford) - and all the connotations that implies. It is doubly unfortunate that one of the most influential countries (here's looking at U SA) has such an individualistic attitude to property, if only Sweden was the world leading economy (or even the original inhabitants of North America) we might consider 'property' to be something with very different properties.

Copyright is there to drive innovation in the economy - if it's not doing that, then it's time to scrap it or reform it.

22:

After reading this, Unwirer popped into my brain....

23:

I was inspired!

http://mycodehere.blogspot.com/2009/11/power-corrupts.html

Thank you for the prompt. Now, kindly get back to that book, we'll handle this.

24:

Maybe the creative types in the UK will decide to move to less restrictive countries. Then the "Digital Economy" will consist of companies licensing IP from abroad...

25:

I've created a Facebook group I won’t vote for any MP who supports Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill. The group’s name is pretty much self-explanatory. While Lord Mandelson wasn’t elected, all 646 MPs in the House of Commons were, and most of them would like to keep on being MPs.

We’re lucky in the timing of this, because there has to be a general election within the next 8 months. There are roughly 40 millions internet users and 7 million filesharers in the UK; if we all makes our voice heard, they have to care what we think, at least until the election is over.

If you want to fight this unjust law -- or even if you just don't want your friends to be thrown off the net on an unfounded allegation -- you should join this group, invite all your friends to join, and publicise it on your blog or website.

26:

Oh, how lovely. Another senselessly painful act against free flow of information. Its sad that the jackals fighting over the corpse of their industry models are at the same time choking the life from the future.

And seriously, a £50,000 certification for your iPhone, Android, or even simple freeware/FOSS app? There are so many psychological angles on the perennial ruse of "For the children". Its painful, how the protection of youth is used as a favorite stalking horse.

A quick read of the article of course jumps out with a couple of specific issues...
Accused file sharers.
Accused. Persistent. File Sharers.
Whose definition, whose evidence, in this 'civil' non-criminal matter, will be acceptable? What defenses, what recourse in the case of false accusation - much less simply confused parents, grandparents, and school librarians whose teenaged charges have long since p0wn3d the school's 'child safe' PCs?

And 70% reduction in piracy, according to whose numbers? Whose judgement? Whose perception of existing file sharing numbers? There are deep, wide, and vicious arguments about the accuracy of ANY of the numbers in regards to file sharing, specifically P2P, but overall piracy. Reduction of the 'scale of the problem' by 70% is an ambitious goal one is certain will fail, giving way to the 'technical measures' so nebulously defined.

Have they looked at the cost, both in time to the government, ISP, and public, of ensuring that the 'false positive' rates are lower than the 'false negative' rates? What is the acceptable rate of false positive results to the, I emphasize again, accusation of file sharing?

And, given that I work in end-user technical support (US, not UK, but I doubt the general level of technical aptitude differs), how will they address the obvious concerns of:
1. Unsecured wireless access.
2. Easily breakable wireless access (AKA, WEP, WPA TKIP)
3. Proxies, tunnels
4. Encrypted traffic with deliberate obfuscation to disrupt pattern-analysis - though I don't know UK law in regards to encryption, rights to encrypt, or refusal to decrypt
5. Botnets or other hijacks which use others' connections
6. TOR software - though I don't know if software like TOR is legal in the UK even as it stands
7. Multi-user PCs, or public IPs which are linked to a large private network such as businesses, libraries, schools, etc
8. ...need I go on?

I love the quote from http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2009/oct/28/costs-piracy-filesharing-mandelson, the short version of which is: It'll run £2 per broadband line per month, or approximately £420m annually, to prevent piracy which the music industry estimates costs it £200m a year.

Distilled:
Someone must be spending a lot of money making this look good, because it takes a LOT of perfume to cover the stink of such fantastically crapstounding plans.

27:

Charlie: "The Money doesn't appreciate competition."

-- yeah, well, this is the big problem with the regulatory state; it inevitably gets captured by the big-money boys it was supposed to tame, and becomes a mechanism for them to control the market and quash competition and change.

So what starts out trying to be Social Democracy ends up in a nice cosy corporatist oligarchy, where you get this sort of thing.

Trying to keep money and power apart is like trying to keep iron filings away from a magnet.

And yup, the logical next step is to forbid all encryption not specifically approved in advance.

I think a lot of the libertarian-anarchist rhetoric about the inherent ungovernability of the Internet is turning out to be pure bat guano. cf. China.

28:

Okay, so they can detect you using an encrypted data stream, and ban that...

How about P2P using steganographic encryption? In other words, appear to be watching "Will It Blend" or downloading the latest PDF report from the mafIAA, and actually downloading the latest copy of "Accelerando - The Movie!".

29:

Actually, an interesting thing to do here would be to publish the names, addresses, and those of their relatives for all the executives in all the media companies - and all the politicians.

Then accuse all of them of file sharing. A lot.

Then the next level down in their companies, etc.

30:

Also, I haven't seen an economic analysis of what happens if you do actually cut off the access of say 2% or 5% or 10% or 20% of a population from internet access.

As far as the media goes, those are then people who will NEVER buy your products, ever, as they increasingly go digital. Cut someone off for downloading a 99c song they may never have bought - lose multiple decades of revenue. Not too bright.

Be rather amusing if they bankrupted themselves because of stupidity like this.

Banks etc. won't like it much if suddenly they have a large uptick in face to face customer services they have to deal with, and that sort of thing.

31:

Blue Tyson@27: That would be effective if it was done by an investigative journalist, who can't be easily tarred by the "pirating hacker nerd scum" brush, and written up as a feature article.

The journo would have to try reporting all sorts of people as well as the MPs, music company execs, etc, so the double standard becomes clear to all.

Otherwise, it would simply reinforce the Dark Side's position, because they would have ample evidence that lots of evil hackers were trying to "hack the system" with their "obviously fraudulent DDOS spam attacks" on respectable members of society.

32:

Bastards.

[deep breath]

Shit eating numbnuts brainless bastards.

[wife breaks out the tranquilizer darts]

take away Internet access on the grounds of an accusation from a trigger happy industry of monkey brained -

[phwttt]

basstards.

[thud]

33:

There's still the odd ray of hope. In Oz, at least one of the ISPs is kicking up a stink about doing the policing:

http://www.itnews.com.au/News/160899,day-20-iinet-refuses-to-play-police-for-film-industry.aspx

I'll be keeping an eye on this one.

34:

We have an election on the way.

Anything in the Queens Speech has a pretty slim chance of being enacted.

Parliament gets halted at the beginning of May, five years after the last General Election. There's a month of intense campaigning, and then the election.

A lot of the "planned" legislation, in that speech written by the government, is setting an election agenda. Pushing something like this, potentially affecting a lot of people, and backed by a notoriously corrupt politician, can backfire badly.

This can be dragged into the whole thing about MPs fiddling expenses.


It's such a stupid thing, that it even looks as though Lord Mandelson has been bought by people who want to wreck the Labour Party. Maybe not even the record labels. Would killing Labour in the polls disable any attempt to better control the financial markets?

35:

Iain@18: It's Lord Mandelson - he wasn't elected, and he won't be out on his arse after the next election. He's pretty much unsackable and he doesn't have to worry about what the electorate think of him.

36:

Feorag @35: Its not so much is title, its power. Mandelson has always craved power. After the next election he's out in so much as he has no power. 'Lord' Mandelson of EMI seems to be his aim.

Personally I'm hoping he gets caught again, does an Archer, gets jailed, and has the Lordship revoked. He's just a nasty piece of work.

37:

The parliamentary website says the age certification for games only applies to boxed games.
http://www.commonsleader.gov.uk/output/page2920.asp

I obviously won't be voting for any MP that helps pass this though. Freenet and tor need to stay places for terrorists+cp only, if pirates get involved there'll be no way to track all the entry points.

38:

On the upside: it sounds as if the Liberal Democrats aren't too happy with Lord Mandelspawn's putrid scam.

(Colour me happy. I live in a Labour marginal seat, that as of the last election had a slim majority over the Lib-Dem candidate, with both Conservatives and SNP so far behind that voting Lib Dem is a no-brainer for me.)

39:

Well, we wanted to know what would induce Scotland to become independent. Do we have a candidate? Digital Free Scotland?

On a slightly different subject: oh yuck: Mandelson, as a college student (1978), was a delegate to the "Soviet-organized World Festival of Youth and Students in Havana, Cuba." (that from his locked Wikipedia page) Shit. That looks a lot like the history of the recent US neo-cons in the Bush II regime. They were radical leftists in college, then decided to bring soviet-style politics into the democratic process via the republican party. Can't tell you what will get rid of him, but you know, you might want to have someone (preferably someone you don't particularly care about) spritz him with holy water, just to see if it makes his suit smoke. My sympathies.

40:

I'd say more about how totally I agree with Mr. Stross on this matter. But I'm still tied up, a month into the SNAFU, with trying to get my 14-year-old web domain back online. The Web Host said they'd fixed it, but hadn't. Network Solution was blocking it, on spurious grounds of "breach of contract" because they'd lost their database entry from a decade ago about change of ownership and snailmail address of office, so I did not answer snailmail sent to the old address.

I spent days and dollars faxing Network Solution to prove that I'm still me, and operate from where I live. They agreed. But they have not unblocked my web domain. They send form letter emails apologizing, and don't reply when I point out that the problem is still there. Now, imagine this times a million, with people making false accusations at the drop of a hat. It's bad when sheer incompetence rules. It will be far worse when malice gains the sustained competitive advantage.

41:

@ 7 ERROR - you used the word "think" as applied to politicians, where they are following MONEY.

@ 11 - see my later links in this post ...

@ 33 & Chalie @ 38 ...
The counter-revolution against Mandelspawn has already begun .
When one of the largest ISP's in this country openly tells the guvmint to stuff it then you know that things are going to get interesting.

In the meantime (excuse me)
WRITE TO YOUR M.P.
RIGHT NOW!

If all else fails, find out when Mandy is on his own - and take some rope/wire along for his meeting with a lamp-post ....

42:

heteromeles: Mandelson's a New Labour apparatchik -- his political DNA is stalinism, not trotskyism (the neo-stalinist authoritarians won the internal civil war within Labour in the 1980s), but otherwise the similarity to the NeoCons is clear. In the US, the NeoCons emerged from the left to switch from trotskyism to libertarianism. In the UK that mostly didn't happen (I'll make an exception for the RCP/Spiked/LM/IOD crowd); but we ended up with stalinists who turned to Thatcherism, and the outcomes are very similar.

Garlic and holy water may indeed be the only answer ...

43:

The way I heard it, Young Mandy's trip to Havana was as part of the Eurocommunist wing of the CPGB, and apparently he did raise some issues over human rights and the Castroite regime which were very awkward for his hosts.

44:

It's called 'rent-seeking'. The 'artistic' corporations think that pesky independent artists are attracting money that, by rights, should be going to the sort of people who can hire lawyers (and governments) to protect their interests. And, after all, property is property. Life, liberty, etc., come afterwards.

45:

Charlie, I'd be using a piece of wood - sharpened chopstick, perhaps - soaked in garlic juice and wrapped with silver wire, as a dart or possibly a crossbow bolt.
(Demand a full autopsy. Use a similar stake to skewer whatever they've been using as a heart, after, to make sure that once they're down, they stay down.)

46:

@45: amateurs.

1. Start with a sharpened piece of desert ironwood. It's heavier than steel, so you'll get some penetration.
2. Make sure the silver is radioactive. Little more expensive, but you can use a couple hundred dismantled smoke alarms as an alpha source if you can't find any for sale on eBay.
3. Garlic, wolfsbane, and holy water, and make an emulsion out of it so that it stays on the head until it impacts. A bit of powdered saint's bone wouldn't hurt either. Make sure the wood is channeled and roughened a bit so the goop sticks. Having it blessed by the holiest person you know (Not Linus Torvalds, sorry), will also help.
4. Use a crossbow. It will give you time to aim.
5. Have backup armed with as much firepower as you can afford. These things always have henchman, and you may need to knock him down to stake him.
6. Whatever you do, don't remove the bolt from his chest. Everyone knows that.

--this brought to you by Institute for a Demon-Free Earth, a 401c3 not-for-profit institution based in Backside, California.


47:

Hello,

I got referred to your "Accelerando" download page:
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/accelerando/

On the page you request that:
"To save my bandwidth and your time, please use BitTorrent in preference to HTTP (web) for downloading, if you know how. (And please consider keeping your BT feed running as a seed for a while afterwards.) "

However, when I used Google search and the search a priatebay.org, I was not able to find an active torrent.

Is this because your server has been haivng problems this past week, or is it because ISPs (and webhosts) are vilifying the bittorrent protocol? My current "conspiracy theory" is that the cable companies want to keep Internet Video expensive.

I am hopeful that things will change in about 2 years when we run out of IPv4 addresses. Currently, ISP's charge a premium for a "static" IP address, even if they come from the same limited pool as "dynamic" IP addresses. Hurricane Electric is giving away 6to4 tunnels and encouraging their users to host IPv6 Web and E-mail servers. I hope that this will lead to a second Internet revolution. However, my cynical side expects they will just start filtering IPv6 as well.

When the IP addresses run out in 2012, I expect the price of "static" IP addresses to spike for about 3 months, then quickly fall to 0 as people move to the land of IPv6 where everybody gets 2^64 addresses for their home network behind a NAT device. NAT for IPv4 will still be needed for things like computer games: I don't think the (DRM) licensing servers/clients of "legacy games" will be updated to support IPv6.

Regards,

James Phillips

48:

Looks like me and thee share the same MP, Charlie. Hadn't checked on how close the previous race was apparently only 2153. I'm definitely shifting from my long established SNP stance and switching to the Lib-Dems (for this and other reasons).
It's just a pity the incumbent hadn't claimed for the odd moat or duck house, would have made his exit just a tad easier

49:

Kevin @ 17, re libel: this reads like a law school problem to me. The ISP may not be libelling you by cutting you off*, but what of the person/body that initially claims you're infringing copyright? There's communication of a defamatory statement and it causes you loss, so ISTM you'd at least be able to get your day in court. Question is, could they successfully claim qualified privilege?

* Provided they don't do something really stupid, like bouncing your emails with an explanatory note.

50:

James: neither -- it's because that note went up four years ago, and demand for "Accelerando" has died down from its initial level. I'm not bothering with BT for it any more; feel free to grab it via http.

51:

It's a remarkable bit of legislation that does nothing whatever to stop the real criminals, the guys in organized crime who are using DVD factories to flood the market with professionally made fakes. File sharing is a TINY loss by comparison, and if the government somehow succeeds in stopping it they will simply drive more people into the hands of the real pirates.

52:

Charlie: on the Number 10 petition, it might be worth making people aware that British citizens can sign even if they're not resident in the UK. (Typically you can also vote in general elections if you fall into that category - see here for details. After spending the 80s watching bastard expats voting for Margaret Thatcher without having to endure her policies, I swore I would never do the same myself, but ISTM there's a horrible domino effect going on in Europe right now, where every country's corrupt bastard politicians take the most rabid anti-internet position they can find elsewhere and then ratchet it up another notch. Euro-brits: if you can't vote in legislative elctions where you live, consider registering in the UK, pestering "your" MP and using your vote on this one issue. It may be the most effective thing you can do for Europe-wide internet sanity.)

53:

Slightly OT but this kind of nonsense isn't doing the developing world any good either. The latest from Number 10 plus the insane Patriot Act plus Homeland Security plus TSA, etc. etc. make the Internal Security Acts (ISAs) of ex-colonial countries like Malaysia and Singapore look downright benign. With strident voices asking for revocation of the dastardly ISA, smarmy local politico's are replying, "Why should we? The much vaunted West is passing regressive legislation that's making us look quite far-sighted in comparison". The problem is, you can't argue with them because -- god dammit -- they're right! The sound you hear is transoceanic gnashing of teeth.

PS Bananas for the blood pressure.

54:

I have to confess to some ambivalence here.

Yes, the proposed punishments are stupid and draconian. The law is ill conceived and will, I'm sure end up hitting innocent people.

That said, I'm a musician - kinda. And here's the thing, whilst I can get my stuff out there with iTunes/Amazon/etc, if it does actually start to sell in any sort of numbers (I can dream, can't I?), then before you can say right-click to save markstune.mp3 it will be there on a torrent site for free. Then I don't get anything for it either via the sale or through any royalty collection agency. So I don't really see P2P torrents in quite the benign way as a lot of you do.

I have colleagues here at work who never pay for music, and they look at me funny when I point out that someone is loosing out. They can't conceive of the lone artist scenario. Selling music is just lining the pockets of the big bad media barons.

It costs me a couple of thousand to record an albums worth of music (amortising the equipment and software costs, and the pro mastering costs, royalty collection agency membership, etc) Getting it on CD another couple of thousand. For a few TENs of pounds I can get it on most of the popular music download sites. I am part of the very very long tail so my opinion doesn't count, but:

How hard would it be for google NOT to put torrents into their search results, and how hard would it be to charge a few pence per MB to the end user as part of their broadband bundle which could flow back to the rights holder via established royalty collection methods.

55:

This is NOT the first time they've done this, either.

This is, effectively a re-run of the licensing (as in booze) bill of a few years ago.
If a publican or other place of "Entertainment" wants to show the biggest, loudest Murdoch or other idiot's lantern show, projected in his/her premises - no permit needed.
But ....
Two unamplified singers, plus an acoustic guitarist REQUIRES A SPECIAL LICENCE.
Failure to comply can mean £5k fine and loss of licence.
There was a big stink at the time - everyone KNOWS that the current system isn't working - but the guvmint refused to do anything about it.
I know, because I'm part of a small group of people who are exempt from this insanity - Morris Dancing was given a special exemption (as were our included mummer's plays).
But, the future of small-scale live entertainment was crushed by this, and it is still happening.
Note that, as in the present case, they crawled up the arses of Big Media, and crapped on everyone else.

56:

An altogether more appealing sort of 'Mandy':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvSuLUd0vS0

57:

I have to take my hat off to the MPAA and RIAA. They have really really pulled an amazing trick. I am speechless at its bold and brassy nature. The MPAA/RIAA open up a few limited companies - Alliance Against IP Theft (Lobbying), Industry Trust For IP Awareness (Propoganda), Federation Against Copyright Theft (Enforcement) - and then proceed to staff these companies with people that the Government will listen to. They lobby incredibly powerfully and finally in 2006 get the Government to publish "The Gowers Report" which in effect for the first time criminalises copyright infringement, albeit on a commercial scale.

So they are in the door, now they start to work their FACT company into the statutory bodies by buying all the former police officers it can find and giving them lucrative jobs, even buying the former Chief of Police for London. FACT then buys its way into Bedfordshire Trading Standards by funding its own personal unit and its own personal Police unit in Metropolitan Police Film Crime Unit. Now they have access to state databases containing all our details. So good so far.

Problem is the Police don't have the resources to go chasing supposed copyright infringers, they are too busy, you know, catching murderes etc. Don't worry, says FACT, as long as you back us up with search warrants we will do it all and they do. Police powers buy de facto then get rented out to FACT (and therefore the MPAA) whenever they want.

But that isnt enough. They want more. They want to actually have the power to kick people's doors in and take their property rather than have the bother of going through due process. So they find a corrupt and powerful politician, one who has shown in the past he isn't adverse to taking a handout or two and they book him in for a dinner with them. Cheap at half the price! Jobs a good'n. Couple of months later and their new bill gets presented onto the floor.

Now all they have to do is wait a few months and these US corporations (if you doubt this please go to Companies House and check who owns these companies) will have Police powers and the ability to simply point and say "J'accuse" and you are guilty. Today it is a streamlined process of disconnecting file sharers but given the history of these parasites they will be back soon with their lobbying machine asking for more.

Anyone who believes that people will get a fair hearing in court against these people need to understand that these companies are unregulated and exist to serve their US masters who have no conscience. How well would you fare against a corporate machine with unlimited funds, yeah I thought so.

In my opinion the way this bill has been created and pushed does more to sully UK politics than the expenses scandal.

If you want to know what the future holds why don't you ask the company who had their door kicked in by FACT and Police, all their property took by FACT and kept even after the CPS refused to charge them due to no law being broken. The couple have fought FACT through the courts and won in the High Court only to lose in the Court Of Appeal after FACT appealed and a judge was replaced last minute. Yes you guessed right, the new judge rode to FACT's rescue and upheld FACT's appeal despite incredulity at his rewriting on the spot of existing law. The couple now face bankruptcy at the hands of FACT solicitors simply because they wanted their property back that a copyright enforcement agency stole from them. Ruling here:

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/reports/article6911108.ece

Screw the file sharers and disconnections. You need to worry more about the section that allows Mandy to "confer" powers on copyright enforcement companies. Do you really think police powers should be handed over to US controlled vigilante groups?

58:

Mark @54

- 'Not to put torrents into their search results' would probably be easy for Google, but what about people that actually want users to download their products via Torrent? What about public domain contents? You simply assumed the Torrent = Piracy fallacy...

- We have something like that in Spain, a toll. Not on Megabytes downloaded, because keeping track of every MB downloaded by every machine in the country and to whom do they belong would be nightmarish, but on hardware bought (CDs, DVDs, mp3 players, hard disks, whole machines... almost everything; they even wanted to include phones because they can play mp3 files!) and it's no solution.

First because it's terribly unfair. Why does a CD containing my holiday photos pay such a toll? Why do companies buying whole PCs subsidize media companies?

Second because the distribution of the toll money has been anything but transparent and fair, independent creators receiving pathetic amounts, companies the lion's share

And third because they want more, more, more... always MORE (actually, a lot of that toll money seems to have been spent in creating and maintaining a monstrous lobby). They have infiltrated detectives in bridal feasts and demanded money because they played music at the ball, they demand money from every bar, restaurant and tavern with a TV or a radio... they are pushing for disconnection, jail, three strikes... you name it, all without due process, by mere administrative fiat... extension of copyright to 100 years or even better, abolishing any time limit... Quite simply, they are insatiable.

And if you think you would receive a significant amount of money from such a toll or royalty, you are sorely mistaken; how would an independent musician justify he deserves it to the Collecting Monster(TM)?

59:

@ KS augustin: You're completely on the dot.

What bothers me is the way that everyone accepts the big lie here: that this is about economics.

It's not about economics. If all the filesharers in Britain are cut off they might go out and buy media- if they don't already. The numbers from ifpi show that downloaders already spend their liberated pocket cash on designer sunglasses, simply shifting the money around.
(personally I download tv shows to avoid broadcasting schedules and advertising. I still pay for the advertising, though, with every brand product I buy. It's the no-brand products that are killing the entertainment industry, I tell you!)

Politicians can figure this out even if they won't admit it in public: this legislation won't miraculously create extra money. So why are they backing it? There's no publicity in it, no-one is going to love Sarkozy because he bailed out Sony or Warner.

It's about control of information, and basta.

Berlusconi's personal empire, Sarkozy and Bouygues, Blair and Murdoch... See where this is going? Politicians don't want the public creating their own media- they want monopolies for their chums.

That's why the biggest issue with yesterday's Telecoms Package is not the HADOPI adoption; piracy is a minor issue.
Net neutrality is the issue: the right of ISP's to cut up the internet as they (or the TV channels they make their money off) see fit.

Any chance there's anything like that in the Digital Economy Bill?


60:

In the big picture, the only permanent solution to this kind of abuse is to start growing a physical hardware network that no central authority can control.

This would have to be an open source wireless mesh network. It can start as a neighborhood geek toy like mini HAM radio, then grow to fit more people as our current Internet becomes more odious.

Does any such thing exist yet, even in its infancy?

If not, it's way overdue.

61:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_community_network is a good point to start. a linksys wrt54 will get you in, there's networks all around the world...
but it's getting to be more and more illegal, too.
Many countries are moving towards discouraging and later prohibiting open networks...
Licencing for ISPs is not aimed at small scale do-gooders. Neither is anti-terrorism legislation that requires you to store all information of your 'users'.

We need the piratpartiet, people. You're already un-free

62:

Following up your wireless network community link leads to some interesting approaches:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RONJA

Apparently there's highly-directional grassroots networks, based on LED optics as well as radio.

Cool. Good luck to the authorities trying to find all that!

I guess the real acid test -as we speak- is China. Unfortunately if there's an underground Internet anywhere in the world, we're unlikely to know about it by definition.

63:

Mark G. - Rest easy. Your fans want you to make money. Heck, we want you to be rich. You don't have to box us in to be sure of that.

(Check out musician Jonathan Coulton for exactly that model. Check out published author Eric Flint at baen.com for the logic). Both of them regard downloading as more akin to marketing than theft.

Also, Charlie Stross. Encourages sharing of his work. Not yet starving.

64:

WTF has happened to the petition? It's now showing only 7,541 signatures. Has it performed a 16-bit rollover?

65:

You might be interested in an animation project I am trying to do. It's a space opera where the entertainment industry has won, but shit hits the fan when they make contact with aliens and discover that the most powerful pangalactic society is governed by Open source and creative commons.

http://www.wreckamovie.com/an-animated-space-opera

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