Business Doesn’t Want To

Today, an anti-pattern.

This coming week (24 February 2013) five major Internet providers will roll out their private enforcement of copyrights (EFF: Deeplinks: 14 February 2013: Don’t Be Fooled: “Six Strikes” Will Undoubtedly Harm Open Wireless).

Businesses are no longer interested in training workers, but instead relying on things like H1B to provide them with cookie-cut human capital.

Arm pilots and teachers instead of making real reforms to prevent violence.

The anti-pattern is businesses that push the work off to someone else. The Affordable Care Act sought to remedy a wholly dysfunctional health care system that was built by private interests failing to heed the give in give and take. The only people giving were (and are) the patients, the workers, and other businesses that provide them with insurance. People are paying NASA rates for common health care items, including simple pain relievers (for more look at Time: Healthland: 20 February 2013: Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us). That is, we’re pretending like aspirin are as rare in a hospital as they are on the International Space Station.

So the healthcare industry, as many others, push the work off onto an utterly broken US Congress. They dare the legislators to come and regulate them, and if they do, their lobbyists water down any solution.

That’s what the Copyright Armada is doing with this Six Strikes program. They’re pushing the work off on the ISPs, and when that inevitably turns into the head of a Gorgon, they’ll callously dare the congress to “fix it” by breaking it even more.

Congress, for its part, has long since given the drafting process over to lobbyists. They dare not write the laws themselves, for if they pass a bad law they can now blame it on the lobby that wrote it. How long before we can cut out the middleman and have industry hire some professionals from Hollywood to produce a farce in place of a real government. At least that would be entertaining.

But no, not these days. These days they would turn it into a “Reality” show, bringing in a bunch of poor saps who want to be rich and famous to argue over which mock Senator drank all the insert-name-of-sponsor.

Personal responsibility begins to mean whatever’s left after you pawn the rest off on some sucker.

But back to Six Strikes. The plan is that your phone company, cable company, whoever happens to also provide you access to the Internet, will watch your traffic. You visit this website? They’ll be watching. You download a copyrighted portion of a regulation (EFF: Press Release: 22 February 2013: Free Speech Battle Over Publication of Federal Law)? They’ll know.

And if (and only if) you download something that looks like it’s from someone that pays them off, they will punish you. They won’t ask for proof. No fair use defense. Doesn’t matter if it was an album you already owned but you don’t have the technical know-how to rip it. Doesn’t matter if it was a false positive. Maybe you can challenge it, for a fee likely as large as your monthly bill, which they keep even if they were wrong. But even that’s sketchy.

But if you’re a non-affiliated musician and someone downloads your album? Too bad. Even if you’re a major artist, the copyright holder, and you download a fan’s cover to check it out, you might get slapped.

We’re on track to an ever less-perfect world for information availability. Chilling Effects: 20 February 2013: Germans Unable to Watch Dashboard Cam Videos of Chelyabinsk Meteor talks about the recent swath of videos showing the recent meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia (Wikipedia: 2013 Russian meteor event), and how many Germans were blocked from watching the footage on sites like YouTube. Because the radio was on when the meteor blazed across the sky.

Those dirty scheming pirates! They planned that meteor just to try to let Germans listen to Russian radio. Shrug.

Either the Six Strikes will fail spectacularly and be scrapped, or they’ll double down. They’ll start blocking independent sites that they feel are contributing to copyright infringement. Then they block independent sites that link to those sites. Pretty soon, they just block any site that doesn’t pay. They’ll likely expand it until it does fail. It will fail.

There will be lawsuits from both false positives and those who aren’t protected by it. It may even serve as a basis for long-needed anti-trust actions against the ISPs. But it’s still sad. It’s sad business doesn’t want to be business anymore.