Thursday, May 22, 2008

Time to go to Work, Work all Day,...

Props to those of you who know the next line to the title is, "We need underpants. Hey!"

Anyway, I guess that title doesn't exactly describe me. It seemed I enjoyed my Monday/loaf-day so much I did the same thing on Tuesday, so nothing new to report on that day.

I decided yesterday (Wednesday) that I had to get a move on and get back to writing, but when I woke up, It seemed my internet had been shut off. It seems I received my first DMCA warning. After yawning, I decided it was a good excuse to write first rather than waste a half hour perusing the weather and other equally useless websites. I'm not sure why I check the weather every day here. Especially since it never changes, unless you consider "Sunny and beautiful" a significant change over "Sunny and hot". I never checked the weather in Albany.

Monday and Tuesday was "Sunny and hot", so I could pretend that that was my excuse for my period of sloth. Yesterday was "Sunny and beautiful" with a high of about 82 and today, the high is supposed to be about 73-75. (Yes, this is in degrees Fahrenheit.) It does not appear today could be more perfect.

So anyway, after getting in a session with a nominal bit of writing, I called Cox Communications about restoring my internet access. It was truly painless procedure and it appears my downloading of an episode of the "The Simpson's" was the cause. I have never heard of a TV episode causing a DMCA flag, so I assume it was because of the Simpson's movie that was released last summer.

For those of you that don't know what a DMCA warning is, DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A law passed about the turn of the millennium to supposedly protect people's copyrights. Unfortunately, it a basically a stop gap measure pushed through by corporate interests in hopes of them having to delay making changes in their economic advertising model. Which, of course, is in dire need of being updated to accommodate for the new mediums provided by the internet and other technologies. So rather than grow with the times, they are trying to punish people like me who are capable of circumventing their advertising. At the moment a DMCA warning is nothing more than a corporate finger wagging asking me to play ball.

Technically, they have civil recourses. They could sue me for copyright infringement, but it would cost them more to sue me than they would ever be able to get out of me. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has attempted to target a small number of people to sue for this infringement, but they have mostly targeted poor people, who cannot afford a lawyer and can be bullied to settle out of court for a few thousand dollars. As far as I know, they have lost or backed down in almost every case that has actually gone to civil court.

The DMCA warning I recieved was from the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). The MPAA serves many more DMCA warnings and as far as I know, they are yet to even sue an individual, though I know they have gone after a few piracy rings. I am not opposed to them going after those who attempt to profit from their work, but trying to scare people like me who profit nothing, is a waste of my time and theirs. We both know they aren't going to waste their time suing me. And thanks to the Safe Harbor addendums to the DMCA, those who provide internet access cannot be sued for the acts of those who use the service, so Cox Communcations is safe from my actions. They are only required to pass on the DMCA warning on to me. One can only hope that Kim and Charles have been paying attention to the last couple of sentences should they ever seek to protect themselves from litigation.

The real problem is that copyrights and patents are an archaic concept that have never been adequately updated, more correctly, they have been too slow to adjust to the quickly changing media of the last ten and fifteen years. They were originally created four and five hundred years ago not to protect the author/creator of a work, but more so the publisher. So even in those "ancient times" they were a byproduct of "big business". If they actually protected the creator of a work, I'd probably be much more respectful.

Despite the corporate tsk-tsking I received, my internet was restored in minutes. The representative even said I did not have to delete the file. I merely had to remove it from my BitTorrent queue. It appears the only downside is that Cox Communications has a three strike policy. After a third DMCA warning, they will drop me as a customer. I suppose that is fair enough, considering they have to pay for the resources to slap my hand and tell me, "No!"

After being booted, I suppose I can switch to Verizon DSL, where I'll have free access to the services of Cox Communications doesn't offer this service. I won't even have to go to the Hilton to watch my basketball games. I guess I better get downloading....


Kimberly said...

Yes, we were paying attention. Unfortunately, being the "middle men" of internet service, we can be shut off by our provider at any time. So we, unlike you, must try to keep our noses clean, lol.

Doctor Augur said...

I don't see why you cannot broach a different agreement with your current provider. An ISP is nothing but a middle man as well. Which is why they have been given this protection. If your current provider is not interested in brokering a deal, you said you were looking to change providers at some point, get a "wholesale" type deal where you are the tenants ISP. Put yourself in a position to simply pass on the DMCA.

I am highly skeptical that even now you can be forced to accept any liability of your tenants actions in a civil court. Of course, as you said, if your provider decides to drop you, that is all that matters.

Then again, it is also a burden on your resources to try to insulate yourselves in this way, the same as it is a burden to Cox Communications' resources. It is simpler to rant and rave at tenants (and former tenants) via email.

At the end of the day, the true lesson to be learned is that it all comes down to sloppy downloading practices. I got lazy and know that I should stick with the darknets. Everyone should learn safe downloading.

Of course, corporate subsidized elementary school programs have been set up to teach children that downloading, no matter how safe, is "bad".

Hooray! Corporations are finally taking an interest in their civic duty by helping to educate our children! Yeah!