This is scary in many ways. On the one hand, the Chinese are trying to "cleanse Yahoo". On the other hand, the RIAA is trying to cleanse the US of Chinese copyright pirates. The RIAA is attacking the Internet backbone. Andy Oram and I talked before about the idea that the Internet may break up into a bunch of networks, each with different rules and much less end-to-end connectivity. It feels like it is starting to happen.
Maybe the great push for connectivity is going change to the great push for division. I guess alternative networks may emerge in the way that alternet emerged to carry the Usenet "alt." traffic, but I suppose this is much harder to do in a transnational context. I have a feeling that the Net may turn into a bunch of separate networks. On the other hand, most of the traffic in China is local within each province, I heard, so maybe it doesn't matter to most people. This push for dividing the Internet may be one of the main hurdles for our push for personal publishing, like blogs who don't have the political power to push through transborder doors when the filters come crashing down. Maybe only Time-Warner will be able to "get into" China in the future... And even then, they get banned every once in awhile.
For Immediate Release: Monday, August 19, 2002
Recording Industry Attacks Internet to Stop Chinese Pirates
Lawsuit Would Extend Great Internet Firewall of China to US
Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release
New York, NY - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) asked a court Friday to order four Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who maintain the Internet "backbone" to prevent access to a Chinese website that provides unauthorized copies of copyrighted music.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) opposes the RIAA action because it seeks to establish a precedent that anyone alleging piracy could shut down access to parts of the Internet, resulting in inappropriate shutdowns, undue administrative burden for ISPs, and imperiling the basic principle of unfettered exchange of information on the Internet. "This latest lawsuit, along with the recently proposed Berman bill, demonstrates that the major record labels have declared war on the infrastructure of the Internet in their campaign to stop the digital music revolution," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "The Business Software Alliance and software industries, who have for years battled overseas pirates, have never resorted to lawsuits against Internet backbone providers that is both pointless and dangerous to innocent bystanders."EFF Media Release: Recording Industry Attacks Internet to Stop Chinese Pirates
"We shouldn't be copying the Great Firewall of China here in the United States," noted von Lohmann. "Offering U.S. consumers a compelling, fairly-priced alternative to the black market will stop illicit traffic to Chinese websites far more effectively than dragging ISPs into 'whack-a-mole' Internet blocking efforts."
EFF expresses its concern that attempts to shut down parts of the Internet will spread to "proxy services," like Anonymizer.com, which are crucial to privacy and free expression online.