Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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The Economist looks at "piracy" and internet access

The Economist has two articles this week of interest to IP critics. The first addresses detecting what the article calls piracy link here. It cites a new way to do the deed using a scan of all the frames in a video to tell whether the "copy" is really a copy. It hyperventilates," The technology is said to have an average detection rate of 96% and a low rate of false alarms: a mere five per million, according to tests by the ISO. It can detect if a video is pirated from clips as short as two seconds. And an ordinary PC can be used with the system to scour through 1,000 hours of video in a second."

The problem with that is whether the portion "detected" as a copy is really piracy. The article totally ignores whether fair use would allow the "copy."

More important would be the temptation to redefine piracy as any "copy" which included more than some arbitrary percentage of the original. Under that doctrine, one may foresee the final end of fair use by defining it so narrowly that none would be legal. That could end up, for example, outlawing all satirical take-offs and other indisputably legitimate uses of original material.

The second Economist article discusses open access to the internet and net neutrality link here. It has an interesting account of the long history of the legal doctrine of common carrier status.

It concludes, "America's regulatory approach has left much of the country with a cable monopoly for truly fast broadband access. The single largest reason given for failing to purchase broadband access in America is price, and many non-adopters are stymied by hardware fees, a lack of billing transparency and the extra cost of bundled services that providers often add to internet access. The FCC's current plan to ask last-mile providers to subsidise rural service, and to ensure equal treatment of packets of information is a mild intervention by global standards. America's modern-day common carriers should count themselves lucky."

Both articles are definitely worth a read.


That's "ensure equal treatment of [LEGAL] packets of information". If those packets infringe copyright (or are suspected to) then they can be quenched.

Thus regulation of neutrality is actually the opposite. It's regulation of what information can be communicated, in exchange for lip service to a vague principle that legal communication shouldn't suffer unfair discrimination (the sort of 'unfairness' that allegedly arises in a free market).

The problem with the Economist's "To catch a thief" concerns its lack of perspective. That is that the content creators have been "seizing" ever greater "rights" thereby turning what was legal into a criminal action; then they disingenuously whine "theft". This leaves the casual reader with an unrealistic viewpoint of what is happening. One would hope that articles such as this would look into how copyright has been changing.

My concern with the Economists' "From ships to bits", again, is the lack of perspective. The mantra of our ISPs is "It will discourage innovation and investment in expensive new networks, ..." Is this true?

In following the net-neutrality debate I have read the comments/articles of others who have an international perspective. Based on their observations the US is behind many other countries. The question naturally arises as to WHY?

Unfortunately all that we seem to hear is the chest thumping mantra of "give us freedom" without any obligation. It seems that the freedom to innovate has not actually resulted in innovation. Clearly something is wrong with the approach taken in the US. So what are the other countries doing that allows them to be ahead of the US? I would like to read an article on that.

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