MPAA Wants to ‘Automatically’ Eliminate Piracy

Oh the things that sound good on paper…

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

There’s document (PDF) shows what appears to be a wish list from the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) – just in time for the holiday season no less.

The paper says, “One of the MPAA’s top priorities is attacking Internet piracy, through vigorous investigation and enforcement worldwide, as well as working with governments to ensure that their laws provide adequate remedies to stop internet piracy and are in full compliance with the WIPO Treaties.”

Of course, while lobbying the government with this might seem like a first step, there’s plenty of obstacles to overcome from there. One of the big ones is the sovereignty of other countries which has been vigorously defended in the past when it comes to these issues (try being a non-Canadian/French person and telling Quebec how to run their province in ways that isn’t in the interests of Quebec) Issues like this hit Sweden back when ThePirateBay got raided in 2006. One of the big concerns was that the United States was directly interfering in the internal affairs of Sweden (namely through political figures and the police) In short, the raid caused protesters to hit the streets. This, of course, is just a small sampling of issues coming into play here.

The paper continues, “Achieving inter-industry cooperation in the fight against online piracy, including through automated detection and removal of infringing content is imperative to curb theft of online content, and is a priority for MPAA and its member companies.” Aside from missing a “the” in this portion, no amount of lobbying would make any form of automated anti-piracy initiatives possible for the simple fact that it’s technologically impossible with todays detection techniques.

This is an issue we followed in-depth earlier this year where there were two studies – one in France and one in Australia. The French study, also known as the “Internet Evolution” study, suggested that normal p2p traffic filtering was “less than perfect” and basically sketchy at best, let alone when one adds in encrypted traffic which made the performance of the filters far worse. Essentially, just detecting the traffic was extremely difficult. Later on, an Australian study showed that, while it may be possible to detect targeted content through normal internet traffic, it was virtually impossible to even figure out what content was legal or illegal on any given p2p protocol.

In fact, internet filtering was the subject of controversy recently where British ISP’s blocked and unblocked Wikipedia. This was a blocking method performed by people and the filters didn’t exactly win over public approval. In short, the MPAA can lobby all they want for an automated system for eliminating so-called “internet piracy”, but it’ll be impossible to get today even if they get what they demand.

Surprisingly, the MPAA singles out Britain as a success story and says that Britain, along with France, is a “useful model”

The paper also included a short list of countries the MPAA wants to lobby. They single out Canada, China, India, Mexico, Russia and Spain as a “priority trade policy” Canadians including Michael Geist were not amused.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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