neutered and legal

To be clear: “neutral and legal” *IS* the network neutrality plan. DRM in the network layer is fundamental to the politics of network neutrality. And network neutrality is definitely coming.

17 thoughts on “neutered and legal

  1. DRM in the network layer is fundamental to the politics of network neutrality.

    Could you explain why this is the case? It doesn’t seem obvious to me, but I don’t follow these politics closely.

  2. It’s not an argument from logic but from observing the politics.

    When a major political player talks about network neutrality they actively affirm that infringing content is exempted. This was true in both Sen. Franken’s and Rep. Doyle’s speeches at FoMC, as well as in remarks by the AFM president and later in private conversation with FMC people.

  3. Ok, I’m less worried now. Exempting infringing content from neutrality, however defined, is entirely different from DRM in the network layer being required, which is what I read into your sentence I quoted.

    Not that the copyright industry won’t cause whatever legislation is eventually passed to be a good deal more retarded than the process would have led to in its absence.

  4. Ah, thanks for clarifying your thoughts…

    Have you seen any concrete description of the DRM being anything different from bandwidth controls (limiting or blocking access after infringement) or revenue plans?

  5. It’s a weird / political situation, where companies (the Telcos, RIAA, MPAA, etc) and the FCC are wanting to control law enforcement.

    The FCC statement seems equivalent of saying: on roads, green lights are only for drivers who are NOT carrying illegal materials in their cars.

    Like: wouldn’t the roads be so much clearer if we just removed all of the cars carrying people or goods that aren’t in legal good standing, in any sense.

    More down-to-earth, people want laws and mechanisms that preempt illegal acts–laws that make people think twice before doing something illegal (e.g., lose your drivers license for drunk driving), or mechanisms that literally block them (e.g., a lock on the garage door).

    I think the “neutral and legal” process would have to look more like law enforcement on public roads than adding locks to garage doors.

  6. Exempting infringing content from neutrality, however defined, is entirely different from DRM in the network layer being required

    One way to interpret the exemption is that music and other potentially infringing content would be best implemented as services within the network core. To enforce legality within the core means having rights management within the core.

    Unless there’s some other way to implement legality in the context of an intermediate node that would be bound by network neutrality…

  7. Have you seen any concrete description of the DRM being anything different from bandwidth controls (limiting or blocking access after infringement) or revenue plans?

    No. I couldn’t find any discussion at all about how to interpret or implement the exemption. Sen Franken went out of his way to throw up his hands and make no comment on it. Quote: “I don’t want an ‘Internet is a set of tubes’ moment.” I did ask around, and as far as I can tell the community of internet engineers and internet music engineers is not involved and has no input to the policy makers.

    The reason why I did these posts is to instigate involvement by engineers. It is really important for people who know what the exemption means to weigh in.

  8. Perhaps I’m not paranoid enough, or just plain ignorant (I haven’t read a word of any proposed legislation or regulation), and being repetitive, but the semi-sane meaning of “neutral and legal” would be that one may be non-neutral (again, whatever that means exactly) in the case of infringing, not that one must discriminate against infringing content (whatever one means by that!). I realize that’s not how “neutral and legal” parses, so again I plead possible ignorance and under-paranoia.

    So just to be clear, is there any evidence or semi-solid hearsay that NN legislation is being used to sneak in mandatory filtering? That would totally not surprise me, other than not having more noise about it.

  9. It’s a weird / political situation, where companies (the Telcos, RIAA, MPAA, etc) and the FCC are wanting to control law enforcement.

    Different parties have different motives. For the type of people who might stop by blog.gonze.com what’s important is to ensure that the facts which affect our ability to do our jobs are taken into account. Engineers who work on rights-related projects are the only people who can ensure that this important legislation is based on reality.

  10. Is it MAY be non-neutral or MUST be non-neutral, you ask. The answer is wide open. But in any serious contract you wouldn’t leave that open.

    You could make a legal argument that people who can block infringement are obligated to take action.

    Or you could examine whether it’s possible, as an engineering question, to have a neutral network that also enforces copyright. To find out the answer to that, you have to define what it means to enforce copyright in the core. That’s why my posts here started with the question of how copyright enforcement would be implemented.

  11. Got it. I now fully appreciate (in both senses) why you’re posting on this. Of course my default reaction is that a “network that also enforces copyright” is pretty ludicrous, and adding a “neutral” qualifier to that makes it ridiculously ludicrous. OTOH there are still engineers who believe in DRM, so well worth exploring the issue.

  12. There is contextual data that can help point toward “possible” (cough, “probable”) infringing content distribution. http://ha.ckers.org/blog/20091008/css-history-hack-used-to-ban-torrent-users/ is an example. But I doubt if it is the “tip of the iceberg”. When non-infringing content distribution deals turn toward torrents to save on network distribution costs, they’ll need a way to tell the difference between them and the rest.

    Legal processes might favor solutions like creating “distribution registries” with a goal to disambiguate non-infringing content distribution. It would have to work with other assisting technologies.

  13. The proper solution is the Adams’ A/B Ark manoeuvre.

    Propose the creation of a second Internet that is designed from the ground up to be provably assured as being incapable of duplicating or transmitting anything except in accord with any licenses provided by the copyright holders thereof.

    Promise that as soon as this new Internet is demonstrated to be at least 95% as efficient as the existing one (ceteris paribus), that there will be a legally enforced migration.

    They can call this ‘Project Sisyphus’.

  14. For signals along the lines of what Lucas is saying, look at ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Treaty Agreement (or rather, look at what you can), which is being deliberated in very tight secrecy, much like the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group for the broadcast flag. The term “anti-counterfeiting” may be not only a ruse to make it difficult to criticize a draconian pre-emptive authorial power kind of notion of copyright, but also a very close description of palladiation — where some sort of encrypted watermarking is used much like on Youtube to identify works — this can be connected with TPMs and remote attestation and revocation a la the Kindle episode. Similar impulses seemed to me to be behind the Xcasting treaty, also pursued by the same forces now apparently working on ACTA.

    The CBDTPA was only barely averted, people don’t quite realize. They had the schemes figured out for just rolling it out on the broadband and digital TV platforms, so that it would be a fait accompli brought about by the Commerce Department and the FCC. Targeted actions on both sides were what stopped that — when we shut down the broadband side, they scrambled to the FCC and published the broadcast flag NPRM. If they had managed to quietly roll out their plan on the broadband side, then the broadcast flag, then they would have put Congress into a position where it would be quite difficult to resist draconian legislation that would correlate with those schemes — putting Fritz chips in all electronic devices consistent with the “protections” in place in broadband and digital television.

    A similar approach via a “fait accompli” ACTA treaty, may be afoot.

    Seth

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