the Irish for rights

Tuesday’s child; Wednesday’s child

BBC news logo, via their site.Two stories from the BBC news website this week caught my eye, and I think they make an interesting pair put side by side.

First, on Tuesday: Huge pirate music site shut down

British and Dutch police have shut down a “widely-used” source of illegally-downloaded music. A flat on Teesside and several properties in Amsterdam were raided as part of an Interpol investigation into the members-only website OiNK. The UK-run site has leaked 60 major pre-release albums this year alone, said the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). A 24-year-old man from Middlesbrough was arrested on Tuesday morning. …

Then, on Wednesday: Anti file-sharing laws considered

The UK government could legislate to crack down on illegal file-sharers, a senior politician has told the BBC’s iPM programme [and here’s iPM’s blog post on the story]. Lord Triesman, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Innovation, Universities and Skills [with special responsibility for Intellectual Property and Quality], said intellectual property theft would not be tolerated.

“If we can’t get voluntary arrangements we will legislate,” he said.

The comments could prove controversial with privacy advocates and internet service providers. Lord Triesman called on internet service providers to take a “more activist role” in the problem of illegal file-sharing. … The Internet Service Providers Association has always maintained that it cannot be held responsible for illegal peer-to-peer traffic because it is “merely a conduit” of such material. … The British Phonographic Industry was pleased at the government’s tough line. … The iPM programme also spoke to renowned blogger Cory Doctorow [blog | wikipedia] who described the idea as “misbegotten”. …

Doesn’t Tuesday’s story demonstrate the redundancy of Wednesday’s? I am reminded of the old nursery rhyme:

Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,

One Response to “Tuesday’s child; Wednesday’s child”

  1. Steve says:

    No, not really. It would be a mistake to look on the press releases (which were the foundations of these stories) as reasoned arguments, rather than as press releases.

    I agree that the Wednesday story looks odd – illegal file sharing is already, um, illegal, and so a government press release pointing this out doesn’t seem to be making much of a point, nor does the general “You won’t like us when we’re angry!” tone.

    But both the media industries and the government have bigger fish to fry. Major owners of IP have a long-standing legitimacy problem when it comes to protecting their interests – most people are hard to convince that copying someone else’s file is as much theft as taking their money (not helped by the fact that, legally, it isn’t theft at all, let alone “piracy”). So a government press release saying that it is seriously criminal is good for them. Government, by contrast, has a legitimacy problem when it comes to spying on what use people make of their IP connection – scepticism of “the war on terror” appears to be growing, and absent some major new attroocity will continue to do so. So a new opportunity to rail about villains on the internet, and to float the idea of further legislation, is not to be passed up, either.

    The question is, I suppose, how far this unholy alliance will go. So far as simple audio recordings are concerned, the media companies seem by their actions to have conceded that the game is not worth the candle – the way to make money from music is to build up a following for a band and then make money at live music gigs. But “film” and other visual media are at present a different matter. That being so, a government that wishes (for reasons which have nothing to do with the music industry) to keep ISPs and their traffic under surveillance will find this a fruitful alliance for a while. But for how long?

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Me in a hatHi there! Thanks for dropping by. I’m Eoin O’Dell, and this is my blog: Cearta.ie – the Irish for rights.

“Cearta” really is the Irish word for rights, so the title provides a good sense of the scope of this blog.

In general, I write here about private law, free speech, and cyber law; and, in particular, I write about Irish law and education policy.

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