A Question Regarding Rights, or Lack Thereof

The question machine has made an exact copy of an arrangement of bits, which were then translated by my computer and came out like this:

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I have a question regarding Digital Rights Management. I think this is a funny phrase to begin with, because clearly, I have no rights here.

I just got a copy of Empire Total War for the PC. A friend of mine bought the game for his machine but found out his system wasn’t up to the task. Being the owner of a beast-machine, I paid him $50 and took the game (DVDs and all) off him.

When I go to install the game on my PC, Steam tells me the game is already linked to my friend’s Steam account. Oh snap, better get him to relinquish his control of the licence. Hmm, no obvious way to do that, better hit up Steam support.

Hours later, I find out that it’s impossible to do. You can walk into a store and purchase a game, sell it to a friend (so you can no longer use it) and it’s worthless. You’re not buying a game, you’re leasing it from Valve and playing by their rules.

My question is, what can I do? Do I have a leg to stand on when it comes to fighting Valve? Do I have to return the game to my friend and ask for my money back?

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Ah digital rights, and their management: a pet topic of mine. Pull up a seat, and lend me your ear for a short while. Continue reading “A Question Regarding Rights, or Lack Thereof”

Google slaps down S92a

Google has a lot at stake in the copyright wars. They hold monstrous caches containing most of the data on the web, no doubt some of it covered by copyright. They also probably hold the risky position of a “service provider” under the new law, requiring them to respond to accusations of infringement.

Google recently filed a submission to the Telecommunications Carriers Forum with their position on the proposed law change. They take the same position that I have:

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Section 92A undermines the incredible social and economic benefits of the open and universally accessible internet, by providing for a remedy of account termination or disconnection that is disproportionate to the harm of copyright infringement online.

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I’m pleased that a huge company like Google has joined the conversation, and only hope it helps towards the eventual repeal of this horrendous law.

Not JUST Guilt By Accusation

no_s92a The Blackout has been a fantastic success, garnering the attention of the government, and resulting in a delay in implementation for the famed Section 92(a).

The focus of the campaign to date has (quite rightly) been on the Guilt Upon Accusation aspect of the law. This aspect is easy to explain, and also piques the interest of non-technical audiences and the press.

But to my mind, the more egregious aspect of the law is that it assumes that your internet connection is used solely for the purpose of downloading illegal copies of audio and video files. This is wrong. In most cases that pipe also happens to carry a large part of one?s day-to-day communications. It might also carry your work, your livelihood, and some of your basic human rights.

We already have adequate laws to punish those who intentionally duplicate copyrighted works, just as we have laws to punish many other civil crimes. This makes sense: punish the offence, and set that punishment at a level that deters reoffending, or others from offending in the first place. Don?t require the removal of a basic utility upon accusation. The nearest equivalent I can think of is vehicle confiscation. In that case, the law requires a proven offence and a court-order, and also has a requirement that the court consider undue hardship before applying the confiscation.

Additionally, if the internet disconnection provision made any sense, why are there not provisions throughout the Copyright Act for removal of other tools of infringement? I would expect to see the confiscation of electronic devices carrying unauthorised copies, and perhaps a provision to require a local council to shut down a theatre should they infringe copyright multiple times.

This issue of an overzealous punishment is not solved by any delays in implementation of the law, and will not be solved by the implementation of a Code of Practise. The answer is really quite simple:

Section 92a must be repealed.