Monday, October 26, 2009

Limitating Internet Access in France and the U.S.

One thing that France and the United-States is that both countries face the perils of the limitations of access to the Internet.

In France, the new anti-piracy law (called HADOPI 2) has finally been validated by the Constitutional Council. It is a "three strikes" law that will allow a state agency to cut off the access of Internet users accused downloading copyright content without authorization.

The change from the previous bill is that there will some judicial review, but the new law allows a fast-track procedure that will deny the right to due process and the presumption of innocence. The suspension of internet access will be decided by a single judge on the basis of the case file.
This of course is the latest developments in the fight of the old guard of an industry unable or unwilling to question their business model under the false pretext of helping the artists and the ‘creators’. The discussion of alternative models has been made impossible. (it must also be reminded that the state imposes on any device able to store media content regardless of their purpose or final usage to the benefit of the copyright holders). Unfortunately, it seems the old guard is winning.
No surprise that France should be the first country to invoke a “three strikes” law for repeat file-sharers. [Thankfully for those who are geeks, there will be technical ways to circumvent the new law. It is a losing fight in the end]


In the U.S., it is net neutrality that is being under attack. 'Net neutrality' says that broadband providers cannot block or hinder the internet traffic of any web site or service (regardless of whether or not that site or service competes with a similar site or service offered by the ISP itself).
Recently the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] has voted to open a proceeding that would guaranty net neutrality. In other words it would make it illegal for telecom companies to impose a service model to control the pipeline and force people to buy their own (uncompetitive and more expensive) services.
But then came John McCain who introduced a bill that would prevent the FCC from making roles on net neutrality. Of course, McCain used what many Republicans have used to defend big businesses in the past – the fear of “government takeover”. Who cares if the government is actually defending people’s freedoms? Guess what he called his bill… : the Internet Freedom Act. Don’t you love the spin?

“Today I'm pleased to introduce the Internet Freedom Act of 2009 that will keep the Internet free from government control and regulation. It will allow for continued innovation that will in turn create more high-paying jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeking new employment. Keeping businesses free from oppressive regulations is the best stimulus for the current economy.” (CNN)
The best part is that this comes from the man who during the presidential campaign described
himself as technologically "illiterate". Well, of course the fact that McCain has netted about $765,000 in political donations from those telecom lobbyists, their spouses, colleagues at their firms and their telecom clients during the past decade has nothing to do with his newly found technological literacy. What underlines this battle is the fight between the champion for the old-line phone industry and the new powers of Silicon Valley.
So we have two different battles in two different countries: France and the U.S. but what they have in common is an old guard trying to cling to their old-time privileges.
In both cases, the control over the Internet is fought by an industry that’s afraid of change and is incapable of having a new vision and finding new business models, an industry lacking innovation.
Meanwhile the consumer is the cow that’s being milk to keep afloat a little longer an industry that will eventually die if it does not change. Why prolong the suffering at the expense of people’s freedoms? Because politicians, big businesses and the establishment are afraid they might lose out, and reed will do the rest.

UPDATE: The French satirical investigative journalism weekly “ Le Canard Enchaîné” reveals “that our holier-than-thou presidency is in fact a pirate’s lair.
In a stunning display of hypocrisy, the presidential audiovisual services produced 400 unauthorized copies of the 52 minutes documentary “A visage découvert : Nicolas Sarkozy”… It is even more appalling that we are dealing with repeat offenders : last spring, while the Hadopi law was discussed, U.S. music duo MGMT received €30,000 as a settlement for a copyright infringement by French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party who used one of its songs at a political rally without permission. Those who led the charge against Internet users are not the most respectful of copyright.” (Boing Boing)

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