As Canada once more this year comes under fire from entertainment industry groups like the MPAA and the RIAA for its continued inactivity against piracy, this article takes a closer look at the entertainment industry’s preferred choice for combating the piracy ‘disease’ – namely the strikes system – and comes to some pretty obvious conclusions which ought to have the entertainment industry running back to the drawing board if they are ever going to get handle on their problem.
The IRMA has been fighting a long running case against Irish ISP provider UPC, in the Irish Recording Music Associations’ battle to try to force UPC to join Irish ISP provider Eircom in enforcing a 3 strikes and you are out system against consumers who are found to be pirating music. In the January article, the economic shortcomings of Eircom having to enforce a system that doesn’t profit them in the slightest were pointed out, and it was suggested that if other ISP’s are not brought into line soon, it may be a sensible option for Eircom to stop being an ethical martyr and slave to the music industry.
Now evidence is on the table that suggests that Eircom might be doing just that, because according to an article by Torrentfreak , Eircom have been purposely mis-enforcing the graduated response scheme for fear of losing customers to rival ISP provider UPC, who as yet has not been forced to join Eircom in the 3 strikes and you’re out scheme.
The letter which Torrentfreak have got hold of and is currently being sent out to Eircom subscribers who are caught pirating is as follows,
‘Eircom has a long association with Irish music and we believe that artists deserve to be paid for the work they create. Most music files are protected by copyright and while it may be acceptable for them to be stored on a computer for personal use, it is unlawful to share those files without the copyright owner’s permission’
That is a pretty standard opening to a letter that we would assume would go on to let the Irish internet user know that they are subject to a 3 strikes system, but this is exactly what it does not do,
‘Please accept this letter as an advisory notice, and should no further activity as described above occur then no further action will be taken. The details of this notification will be retained for 12 months from the dates of this letter and will be deleted thereafter unless we receive an additional notification in that period’
No mention of the 3 strikes system at all. Instead, the letter (as is required by the deal with IRMA) goes on to inform the user that they should use legal places to download music from, such as eircom.net/legalmusic (which Torrentfreak points out has not been working for some time), and finishes up by educating the user about IRMA’s software for checking their computers hard drive for infringing files. As we can see, it would appear that while IRMA continues to fail in pulling UPC into the deal, they aren’t going to be getting the full and proper co-operation of Eircom either, rendering the whole strike system useless.
So where else do we see the strike system in force and implemented with any success? In the US, a graduated response six strike system is aimed at re-educating P2P traffic users caught accessing copyrighted material on filesharing websites. However, even though 1.3 million warnings were sent out in the first 10 months of the scheme, the MPAA admits that it does not know if the warnings are having any effect, although it does say that 30 percent of those warned were caught pirating a second time.
In fact, by its own admission the MPAA cannot tell if people in the US who have been warned move on to legal online marketplaces, or simply find different ways to pirate material (which is very likely as more and more people make use of VPN services.)
It would appear that the truth is that the MPAA knows full well that in every place that it has been rolled out so far (France, New Zealand, Ireland), the strikes system has had little or no effect on piracy rates. Let us not forget that in January Eircom was boasting that its graduated response system was working so well that it hadn’t had to cut anybody off at all. Not exactly a surprise considering these new revelations which show that it has been implementing a weak version of the system that does not result in a loss of service
A vast amounts of money is being spent on sending out letters to deter users from piracy – users which simply are not getting cut off if they persist. If in Ireland nobody is getting cut off, and in the US the letters are not working, we have to ask ourselves why the entertainment industry is working so hard on expanding this particular solution to piracy? Why is it so desperate for Canada to join the fold when all the evidence so far points to ineffective results and continued piracy?