The Moulded Web :: Copyright Infringement

In an era of rapidly growing content on the web, along with the ease of organizing and retrieving it using massive content facilitators like Google, Copyright Infringement is freaking content providers out. More and more ordinary people are now mashing up music and videos or modifying the existing ones and publishing them online. Simultaneously, the powerful upcoming of Peer to Peer (P2P) technology is enabling supersonic distribution of these content and the fact that P2P are distributed systems, makes it even tougher for the content owners to track and take action against them. To put it in very simple terms, today there is technology to efficiently find content and also to rapidly distribute it, which is a nightmare for content owners.

Content owners have actively looked for ways to impede Piracy and have taken subtle steps over past few years to stop the same. Major ones are-

Targeting the P2P networks:
P2P networks basically are build upon two fundamentals: indexing, which indicates where the content is located and secondly sharing, which is the way of acquiring the content from the peers. So, in order to impede the successful operation of P2P networks, Content providers have targeted the indexing servers by techniques like denial of service. Also, another means used was to drench the actual information within a pool of injected extraneous or undesired information.

Million dollar question is:
How legal and moral are the ways and means used above? Some say its debatable but do these techniques really hold legality? [Left to the readers to answer]

Holding ISP Providers responsible:
Content owners initially called upon ISP providers to be primarly responsible for any sort of copyright infringement on their networks. This meant they should monitor the content floating on the network and actively blocking content which caused infringement. One of the techniques ISP’s adopt is a deep packet inspection (DPI), which involves analyzing actual packets over the network irrespective of whether the content is P2P exchange or an email or any other application content.

Does that ring any bell? It means ISP’s will peep into the privacy of the users of the network (that’s us)? Isn’t that violating Wiretap Act? [Ponder over it]

Though, the ISP providers have loosened out of the claws a bit after the upcoming of DMCA in 1998, which puts them now at secondary liability under certain conditions, but end-users privacy is still at stake.

Pressure on Content Facilitators:
As giants like Youtube, Google etc, act as a massive facilitator of digital content to the people on the web, content providers have constantly put pressure on them to block or remove content which are copyrighted.
So, on one hand Youtube has come up with a video filtering system which filters out all copyrighted content from being uploaded to the website in the first place. Some time back Youtube rolled out a beta version of the same.
On the other hand Google has been excluding copyrighted pages from its indexes and has come up with a future plan of further purging the content, which includes: Ensuring that Auto-complete doesn’t fill in words for copyrighted content, making authorized content more readily available, Reliable implementation of copyright take down requests within 24 hrs and improvising the adsense anti-piracy review.

Is this not moulding and restricting of actual information to entitled end-users?

After all web is all about content and if that is moulded, twisted and hidden from the users of the web, then in my opinion web looses its whole and sole purpose. The above discussed actions are not only invading our privacy but also robbing us off our democratic right to information.