PROTECT-IP, the Digital Economy Act, site blocking, domain seizures and 3 strikes regimes. The list of techniques used to thwart online file-sharing seems to grow every month. But how effective are they really? The overuse of these anti-piracy medications is breeding new strains of powerful file-sharers, resistant to even the most powerful of digital antibiotics.
It’s that time of year again. The colds, the coughs, the sneezes and shivers are either here already or just around the corner. Cutting through the marketing hype, in reality there is little one can do to avoid 4 to 7 days of feeling moderately awful.
Nevertheless, many reach for the antibiotics. But as more and more people are becoming aware, not only are they ineffective on a virus like the common cold, taking too many of them actually makes matters worse. Inappropriate overuse of these medications helps create resistant strains that require stronger and more powerful doses of antibiotics to treat.
And herein lies the problem. The mainstream music and movie industries are treating online piracy with the broad-spectrum antibiotics of three strikes regimes, site blocking and domain seizures. Initially, as we shall no doubt see from their reports, these digital medications will quickly reduce the levels of file-sharing bacteria on the Internet.
With these cosmetic successes will come larger and larger doses of the solutions, applied liberally wherever a problem surfaces. But underneath it’s already too late. The smart bacteria have begun to adapt and are disseminating their knowledge from cell to cell, from generation to generation.
The copyright enforcers will quickly learn that in common with the microscopic organisms present in us all, file-sharers have become resistant to even the most-powerful of anti-piracy antibiotics available today. The fightback has already begun, and the potions are being rendered useless.
Worse still, while the most aggressive anti-piracy solutions are still waiting in the wings, their recipes are already public knowledge. Sites like Newzbin2 have already adapted to the poison awaiting them, and it hasn’t even been administered yet.
And according to news just out this week, signs are that the most important pirates – the ones that provide much of the initial content – are becoming more and more difficult to find. According to Denmark’s RettighedsAlliancen, who are better known by their former name of Antipiratgruppen, adapting file-sharers are causing them huge issues.
“It is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to trace these people,” said Maria Fredenslund, head of RettighedsAlliancen. “It’s a huge problem.”
Fredenslund says that that “increasingly hardcore” file-sharers are using VPN connections as a matter of course, but for Danish Piratgruppen chariman Troels Møller, the reaction is to be expected.
“When anti-piracy groups worldwide move so violently forward, it is clear that people have to protect themselves,” he explains.
But while solutions like VPNs and encrypted connections to sites like Newzbin2 are the preserve of today’s tech-savvy, the aggressive anti-piracy movement will ensure that they will soon become mainstream, just like the uptake of file-sharing itself before it.
And in common with the inappropriate overuse of conventional antibiotics that also kills the helpful bacteria that we all need to function effectively, restrictive blocking and censorship will claim endless victims with its collateral damage.
So, the only effective treatment is prevention via liberal doses of media, on demand, at a fair and friendly price. After all, history has shown that when the price of that treatment is too high or too difficult to obtain, the bacteria – quite literally – go viral.
Try treating that with antibiotics.