Saturday, November 03, 2007

Why a rights Robocop will never work

Cory on why a rights robcop will never work.

"It's all the rage these days: crackpot proposals to automatically police the internet for copyright violations, stopping them even before they occur.

From YouTube's promise to find and stamp out copyright infringing uploads to the counterproposal from the motion picture studios and Microsoft to find and stamp out infringing uploads, everyone is getting in on the act.

The problem is, it's all lies, wishful thinking and irresponsible promises.

Look at it this way: for this system to work, you'd have to write a piece of software that had a thorough understanding of "all the copyrighted works" (keep in mind that every creative work is copyrighted from the instant it's created), and it would have to be able to spot every transformation, re-encoding, downsampling, and re-edit of those works in order to stem the tide...

It would also have to be nearly perfect in regards to false positives - every time it misidentified a home movie of your kids' first steps or your gran's 85th birthday as Police Academy 29 or Star Wars: Episode 0, Jedi Teen Academy, your own right to use the Internet to communicate with your friends and family would be compromised - likewise unacceptable.

Even worse: what happens when your video of a corrupt politician rigging an election is flagged as an infringement, and by the time the mess is sorted out, the election is already over?

And no matter what, it would be an incredible invasion of privacy...

Remaking the internet to invade privacy and silence our conversations is a crummy idea, but even worse is the fact that it won't actually stop or even slow infringement. But for so long as there are technology companies with magic beans to sell - and desperate, ageing entertainment execs willing to buy them - we'll have to keep fighting."

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