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Bill St. Arnaud is a consultant and research engineer who works with clients around the world on a variety of subjects such as next generation Internet networks and developing practical solutions to reduce CO2 emissions such as free broadband and dynamic charging of eVehicles. He is an author of many papers and articles on these topics and is a frequent guest speaker. For more details on my research interests see

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Forget about Big Brother -- Watch out for Big Entertainment

[Some excerpts from Gibbs Backspin column-- BSA]

Last week I discussed the doublethink and newspeak of “the Campaign to Protect America,” an initiative launched by the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy as well as the shameful strong-arm bullying tactics of the Recording Industry Association of America.

Here’s the worst case scenario: Consumer PCs would, by law, be directly monitored by ISPs to ensure compliance, and the legal consequences for any attempt to circumvent mointoring would make the punishment for murder look like a slap on the wrist.

... in Australia there is an example of a real foray by Big Entertainment into the lives of consumers. The customers of an Australian ISP, Exetel, have all audio and video content in their accounts automatically deleted every night. Exetel has been doing this for over a year and their customers are informed when they sign up that this will happen.

But what really matters is why the company is doing this: According to Exetel’s FAQ, the reason for the nightly purge isn’t anything as sensible as space conservation, but what it says is its “hard approach to copyright issues.”

AT&T is on record that it plans to develop and deploy mechanisms for finding and removing copyrighted material from its network. If AT&T does do such a thing, then it is certain that every other major ISP, like the lemmings they are, will follow suit and the consequences will be tremendous.

For a start the RIAA’s campaign to prosecute people they believe to be infringing on member’s copyrights will escalate because it can demand that the ISPs inform them of infringements they discover. The cash flow from the extortion will ensure enough cash flow to keep the RIAA’s legal machine in top gear.