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Barry Manilow Highlights 'Three Strikes' Law Stupidity
ISP argues assumed guilt by IP isn't too smart...
by Karl Bode 04:08PM Friday Oct 16 2009
In the UK, the government is still working toward the entertainment industry's goal of booting heavy P2P users off of the Internet, should they be caught transferring pirated material three times. As we've covered at length, this is a bad idea for a number of reasons. Piracy technology detection systems are unreliable, expensive to implement, require tracking offenders across ISPs, there's usually no independently verifiable protection for falsely accused customers, and booting P2P users removes the possibility of turning these users into paying customers.

ISPs don't want to pay for such systems, and unless they've got one foot in content like AT&T or Comcast, why should they? They're essentially using their revenues to pay for the entertainment industry's failure to adapt to the broadband age while at the same time losing a paying customer. Smaller ISPs in particular aren't exactly eager to take on the added support costs of such systems. All of this even assumes such a system would work.

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In order to highlight how susceptible such a system would be to manipulation and false positives, UK broadband ISP TalkTalk conducted a bit of a publicity stunt by driving around and leeching Barry Manilow songs via open hotspots:
Within a couple of hours he had identified 23 wireless connections on the street – more than one-third of the total – which are vulnerable to Wi-Fi hijacking. These connections are either completely unsecured (6%) or use WEP technology (28%) which many users think is secure but is in fact easily hackable by anyone with a laptop computer. To show how vulnerable people are to unauthorised filesharing, our expert downloaded legal music files from two connections, including Barry Manilow’s hit Mandy and the soundtrack from the 1992 film Peter’s Friends.
Obviously, assuming guilt by IP alone isn't too bright. In France, where President Nicolas Sarkozy has made that country's three strikes initiative a personal pet project, they've included provisions that fine broadband users who leave wireless access points unsecured. Again though, do you fine users for using WEP and being hacked? Who tracks this? Who tracks P2P users between ISPs? Who pays?

It all seems like layer upon layer of unreliable technology, potential legal problems, and added taxpayer and ISP expense. Nothing will ever stop piracy, but it seems like an easier solution to weakening piracy exists: lawmakers should tell the entertainment industry to suck it up and adapt. Put the money spent lobbying for three strikes laws and suing customers into developing easy and inexpensive content platforms that compete with piracy.

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