House Version Of PROTECT IP To Cover Cyberlockers Too

from the of course it will dept

It’s been rumored for a while, but there’s growing evidence that the long-delayed House version of the PROTECT IP Act will include provisions for attacking cyberlockers. For whatever reason, the MPAA (in particular) has had an infatuation with cyberlockers as the next big “evil,” so this is hardly a surprise. Of course, there’s a big problem here: cyberlockers are nothing but online storage, and they have tons of legitimate uses as well. It’s difficult to see how any legislation can be crafted that won’t have massive unintended consequences and liabilities for all sorts of perfectly legitimate online storage providers. How do you distinguish things like Dropbox or Box.net from one of the cyberlockers that the MPAA loves to hate, such as Hotfile? And as cloud storage continues to grow, the issue only gets worse. How about Amazon.com’s S3 offerings? In some ways that’s a cyberlocker as well. The fact is that the MPAA is playing a silly and pointless game of whac-a-mole. All this new effort will serve to do is piss people off. It won’t lead to any more purchases, but will make it clear that the MPAA has no problem trampling innovation when it can’t figure out how to use it properly. Cyberlockers have perfectly legitimate purposes — as did VCRs before them… but the MPAA tried to kill that, and is now seeking to do the same for lots of other services, just because the MPAA can’t comprehend how they’re useful.

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Comments on “House Version Of PROTECT IP To Cover Cyberlockers Too”

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86 Comments
Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: This will not be abused

Pop Quiz:
The internet was invented to _________
a) cook some tasty bacon.
b) smile at you and tell you that you are pretty.
c) access and synchronize to remote information.

Cyberlockers will _________
a) chill your beer instafast.
b) will hug you just right.
c) will let you access and sync to remote information.

Legislating “cyberlockers” will _________
a) bring back the 50 bajillions of dollars that are vaporized by piracy.
b) lower the unemployment rate to -24%
c) be a waste of time.

fogbugzdsays:

If they kill off cyberlockers now, it will clear the decks so that the next big thing that the MPAA hates can develop without competition from cyberlockers.

I have no idea what the next big thing is, but I am positive that the MPAA will hate it and proclaim that whatever it is will destroy the US economy and western civilization.

Chaossays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The problem with that theory is that bittorent, any site that contains torrents or links to torrents, and every single torrent program will be one of the first things to be blocked because some torrents are infringing. Part of the problem with PIPA is that it doesn’t have any provisions for proving content is infringing, just an accusation of infringement is enough. And absolutely anyone can make that accusation. If microsoft were to make the accusation that ubuntu.com contained so much as a link to a site that may contain a link to pirate content, poof, no more ubuntu.

Anonymoussays:

This is a campaign against every corner the industry can think of.

It is not cyberlockers is cyberlockers, filesharing, electronics and anything that can be possibly be perceived as a threat to their business model.

They are sweeping the grounds trying to stop something that can’t be stopped which is great, at some point they will go to far and feel the pain.

Would it be that PROTECT IP will allow others to look inside cyberlockers and raise the ire of the commons?

One thing the public do understand is “privacy”, if they see it threatened soon many, many lawsuits will fallow, and granting powers to others to look inside your virtual locker may be just what it is needed to make people wake up to the consequences that IP laws are having in this world right now.

Chosen Rejectsays:

Definitions are easy.

How do you distinguish things like Dropbox or Box.net from one of the cyberlockers that the MPAA loves to hate, such as Hotfile?

In the interest of being a freetard and helping you out, I will offer some assistance on making this definition for you.

Cyberlockers are herein defined as online storage that does not allow any of its ones or zeros to be used for infringing purposes.

fogbugzdsays:

Re: Re: Definitions are easy.

>In the interest of being a freetard and helping you out, I will offer some assistance on making this definition for you.

>Cyberlockers are herein defined as online storage that does not allow any of its ones or zeros to be used for infringing purposes.

Fail: You can upload infringing content to things like dropbox or Box.net. Or to your flash drive or your hard disk. Any system for storing files can store infringing files as well as non-infringing.

out_of_the_bluesays:

"How do you distinguish things like Dropbox or Box.net from..."

One easy way, assuming those you mention aren’t merely new sites with same infringement methods, is CHECK if files are publicly available! Afraid you think these matters beyond human comprehension, Mike, but though difficult to nail down in exact legalisms, are actually obvious.

@Jay: wrong still and again on torrenting. The EASY sign of that is unusual download to upload ratio, which my ISP already tracks. You’ll be spotted and three-striked within a month.

The mechanisms are in place, people. You’re just willfully blind at this point.

Disclaimer: I’m not for this.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: "How do you distinguish things like Dropbox or Box.net from..."

While it’s in place, out_of_the_blue, it won’t be effective against anyone that wants to dodge the three strikes. VPN assures they will have a much harder time with deep packet inspections. VPN is encrypted from user to connection point.

All they can tell is you are moving data, not what.

Re: Re: "How do you distinguish things like Dropbox or Box.net from..."

One easy way, assuming those you mention aren’t merely new sites with same infringement methods, is CHECK if files are publicly available! Afraid you think these matters beyond human comprehension, Mike, but though difficult to nail down in exact legalisms, are actually obvious.

Dropbox and Box.net lets files be public. In fact, that’s one of the more useful purposes of them. So… um… you’ve just outlawed all online storage. Congrats.

The distinction

I can help you here:

Dropbox exists solely for storage. Dropbox has potentially infringing uses, but its primary purpose is non infringing.

Some cyberlockers outwardly court infringing uses, and pay rewards for infringing uses.

I’m not sure about how I feel about the Act, but I think that the outrage here is a little misplaced. It is pretty easy to tell which cyberlockers are working to make an end run around Grokster, and which are just legitimate businesses.

Ikarushkasays:

Re: Re: The distinction

Open wi-fi exists solely for connecting wireless devices. There is a potential of illegitimate use, but the primary purpose is non-infringing. Nonetheless, as I recently read somewhere, someone tried to equate running an open wireless network with negligence and make the persons who do not encrypt their networks liable.

The ?legitimate businesses? like DropBox are off the rightholders? radar until some clever MPAA lawyer finds out how to shake down these businesses cheaply.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re: The distinction

Dropbox exists solely for storage. Dropbox has potentially infringing uses, but its primary purpose is non infringing.

How do you make that distinction? Most cyberlockers’ primary use is storage, so not sure how you’re determining which are the good players and which are the bad.

Some cyberlockers outwardly court infringing uses, and pay rewards for infringing uses.

I’ve heard this claim, but never seen evidence of it. It is true that sites like Hotfile pay those for popular files, but that’s not the same as infringing files. But, more to the point, existing law already allows one to go after such sites for inducing infringement if it’s true that they really induced.

The problem is that so many folks seem to assume inducement where none may actually exist.

I’m not sure about how I feel about the Act, but I think that the outrage here is a little misplaced. It is pretty easy to tell which cyberlockers are working to make an end run around Grokster, and which are just legitimate businesses.

I’m sorry, but the “it’s pretty obvious” doesn’t explain to me how you write the law to only cover one batch. I just don’t see it. I can’t see how you make that distinction in any reasonable way that doesn’t outlaw all sorts of perfectly legitimate technology.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The distinction

Really? Never the ‘twain shall meet?

Did anyone claim that?

Want to make up a few more strawmen?

Point is that while their may be overlap, they are not the same thing. And these things change over time. The VCR, when it was introduced, was dedicated to infringing activities. So was the MP3 player. But over time, without the need for legislative changes, those things changed.

So why do you want to break the next generation of tools as well? Because it’s what you do for a living. You break innovation to prop up a dying business model.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The distinction

Good luck in 5 years.

no u? one can only imagine what you MAFIAA wankers will be baaaw’ing about then, or if you’d even still be around by then

squeaky wheel(MAFIAA) gets the grease but if all the wheel ever does is squeak no matter how much grease(money/bogus laws) you give it, people are eventually going to get tired of it and replace it

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: The distinction

strawmen? Oh Mike, please.

One only has to look at your typical torrent site top 100 files to understand what is and what is not popular. They aren’t trading Corey Smith, there is nobody clambering for a download of Sita Sings the Blues or the latest masterwork from the talentless git Marcus Carab. They are going for hollywood movies, RIAA music, etc.

Hotfile is built predicated on the idea that end users will upload “popular” files, and people will pay to be able to download them. While popular doesn’t directly mean infringing, I would put money on the table that 8 or even 9 out of 10 files / lockers that are the most popular are infringing.

Would you want to live in a neighborhood where 9 out of 10 houses were crack dens?

Hotfile would appear to have to be wilfully blind not to see what their service is being used for, and not to understand what they are profiting from. Are you equally as blind?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The distinction

You heard it here first, someone doesn’t understand analogies.

One crack den isn’t equal to one infringing file. The point is only if 90% of your neighborhood is crack dens, you might sort of figure it out, right? How can a hosting company resell access to files without realizing at some point that “STAR_WARS_DVD_RIP_XVID” might, maybe, sort of, possibly be infringing?

Fuck me, people here are dense.

Jaysays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The distinction

“One only has to look at your typical torrent site top 100 files to understand what is and what is not popular. They aren’t trading Corey Smith, there is nobody clambering for a download of Sita Sings the Blues or the latest masterwork from the talentless git Marcus Carab. They are going for hollywood movies, RIAA music, etc.”

And where are those torrents coming from, chief?

“While popular doesn’t directly mean infringing, I would put money on the table that 8 or even 9 out of 10 files / lockers that are the most popular are infringing.”

So it’s best to just open all of the lockers and view their contents without their permission. Right. That’s going to go well with Hotfile, especially since a judge has already ruled that there’s no direct infringement in the case.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The distinction

Just my opinion, but I believe the lower court will be overturned by the 11th Circuit on the finding of no direct infringement. The district court basically said “but it is the software that makes the copies, and it does so automatically, so there can be no direct infringement”, which, of course, tends to overlook the rather important point that the software is programmed by a person to carry out the copying. It does what it is told, and someone told it to make 5 copies of everything.

Marc John Randazzasays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: The distinction

It is pretty easy, using existing law. If there are “substantial non-infringing uses,” and the infringing uses are merely incidental to the technology, then no problem.

If the use is clearly to promote infringement, or if it outwardly rewards infringement, then you don’t even need your obvious-meter.

This is why VCRs are permissible, and why Grokster isn’t. It is why Limewire lost its case, and why I predict Hotfile will as well. Meanwhile, I couldn’t possibly see Dropbox losing a Hotfile-style case.

Anonymoussays:

Saying that the MPAA “MPAA can’t comprehend how they’re useful.” is just Naive. They know damn good and well that these services can be use for legit uses, they just don’t care about those usages they only want to protect their own business model.

I work in the radio industry and the radio owners bitch and moan all the time about only making 20% margins instead of the 50% they before technology caught up with them, and it’s the same way with movie producers.

Mike Masnicksays:

Re: Re:

I take it that no one here sees any middle ground on the matter of online storage, i.e., recognizing the utility of online storage while at the same time considering means by which their use to facilitate illegal online distribution can be curtailed.

Um. That was the point of this post, which it appears you failed to read. I’m asking how anyone could write a law that does what you claim? As far as I can tell it can’t be done without significant collateral damage.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s not easy, which is why so much attention has been directed to sites having no purpose for being other than facilitating infringement (and perhaps even other material where copyright is not the driving force behind legitimate concerns.

A useful starting point for drafting such legislation are the holdings in Betamax, Grokster, etc.

Any Mousesays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

which is why so much attention has been directed to sites having no purpose for being other than facilitating infringement

NO PURPOSE other than infringement? You’re sure you want to go with that argument? Because that argument can be debunked in just a few minutes. … There, I just uploaded a text file to a cyberlocker. It’s all original content written by me. Yes, it’s all complete nonsense, but I own the copyright on it! Oh, wait, you said it couldn’t POSSIBLY be used for anything other than facilitating infringement.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

Let me help my AC friend out here.

The sites have no hope of surviving or having valid business models without facilitating infringement. There just are not enough people willing to pay for online storage by itself.

Actually, when you look at the business model, it sort of explains itself. File lockers which charge for a download (but not an upload) are clearly indicating that the value is in a third party downloading stuff, and not for the person storing it.

Just as storage, it’s sort of useless, because it’s unsafe, you don’t know if the company will be in business tomorrow, it’s not a safe backup or anything like that.

It’s also slower than just sending someone a file over a chat program (like windows live, ICQ, QQ, whatever). So it’s also not very effecient.

There is also no business logic in “one upload, one download” sharing, where people put up a file just to get it downloaded by one person. That one person, if they aren’t in a rush, are not going to pay to download, they will take the slow free route.

So then the question is “where is the business model?” It would appear that the only functional solution is hosting files that are popular, are downloaded by multiple people, and require payment to obtain in a reasonable amount of time. That is why often storage places won’t let you put up a single DVD rip size file, but require you to spread it over multiple RAR files. That way they can let the downloader get one for free, and then make them wait 15 – 30 minutes for the next part – or “get it now for only $9.95 a month!”.

The business model is clear. What do you think it is?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Your ‘logic’ is completely circular: because downloads exceed uploads it must be infringing and the business can’t stay in business without downloads exceeding uploads so downloads must exceed uploads so it must be infringing and round and round we go.

The business model is clear but you have yet to explain how downloads exceeding uploads proves infringement or that the business model can only be profitable if it infringes. Hell, by your standards every Youtube video with more than 1 view must be infringing content.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

No, you got it wrong, apparently I didn’t explain it clearly. Can you please not try to create bizarre absolutes to justify your position? I never indicated that more than a single view of a you tube video was relevant. Those are your words, your ideas, and not mine.

“because downloads exceed uploads it must be infringing and the business can’t stay in business without downloads exceeding uploads so downloads must exceed uploads so it must be infringing and round and round we go.”

Merely having downloads exceed uploads (by a small margin) isn’t enough to bother looking. But if a single file or locker is downloaded hundreds of times from all over the world, it might be worth at least taking a cursory look at the names of the files to see what is what… maybe look at the referring pages that are sending people to that locker (because there will be referring URLs if they links are posted on chat boards, etc). If the referral is from “free-pirated-movies.info” and points to something called “star_wars_bluray_dvd_rip.RAR”, you might consider that perhaps, maybe, the content MIGHT be infringing, and certainly worth a look.

This is all information that is readily available to the “host”.

It’s more obvious when it’s a site like Hotfile, that knows exactly which “lockers” are getting paid access sales and which are not. The ones that are making a lot of sales probably should be checked. Again, some fairly quick cursory work would be more than enough to get the gist of what is in the locker file, even without opening it.

Clearly, as a business partner, they should know what they are selling.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

This. A thousand times this. The copyright lobby has never been interested in shutting down illegal activity as much as they want to expand the scope and legal obscurity of what is and is not legal so much that it forces completely legal competition out of the market. You can see it in all of their work, they constantly go after distribution platforms that are not only used for infringement but also for independent distribution of content they don’t get a cut of because it threatens their distribution monopoly. That’s what this has always been about.

Anonymoussays:

Encrypt Your Data People

Dearie me, “cyberlockers” are just the new trendy name for “FTP storage”. You can store anything you please in your FTP storage, which can be remote and accessible by the general internet, as you may wish. FTP has been around for ever and it is not going away anytime soon.

But remember, there are snoops out there, so make sure all your FTP files are encrypted. That way, when the snoops get to snooping, they do not find anything. Proper encryption key management is your problem and should never be delegated to anybody else. Use a secure session for accessing your FTP storage, as well. When and if the cops come knocking, make sure you fully exercise your right to silence. The fifth amendment is a wonderful thing. Huffing and puffing about how dreadful it is that your privacy is being invaded, that is good too.

anonymoussays:

just because something can be or may be used for ‘infringing content’ doesn’t mean it will be or that all files will be infringing. torrents can be infringing, it doesn’t mean they all are. there are 1000s of site that have legal torrents as well. in trying to shut down illegal torrents by shutting down the whole site, legal stuff went/goes too.

Jimrsays:

Cloud computing is builds upon the Cyberlocker idea. After all cloud computing is just online storage set up in a fashion to hopefully increase reliability and availability if implemented correctly.

I have had a paid online secure storage location for years and it is massive in size.

Even our world wide company has a secure FTP-like site where I can easily transfer massive files in a secure way.

I do not trust the government to technically knowledgeable enough to craft a bill that would not end up hurting everyone’s business in an effort to appease the MPAA.

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