The Star star reports that the Recording Industry of Malaysia is pushing for the ISP Liability Act to be tabled in Parliament. This law is the local version of the graduated response approach that recording industry groups, most notably the infamous Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been lobbying for in other parts of the world.
In summary the law would hold Internet Service Providers (ISPs) responsible for acts of copyright infringement or piracy committed by their subscribers. The law is also known as the “three strikes law” because ISPs must issue 2 warnings before cutting off internet access to their subscribers, i.e. three strikes and you’re out.
This is a bad development
I am strongly against this move by the recording industry for the following reasons:
1) Policing copyright infringement is not the job of ISPs. They should be focusing on providing the best internet connectivity so that Malaysians can compete in the internet economy. Malaysian ISPs already have a tough time providing decent internet connection, now you expect them to be the piracy police?
2) Systems that monitor ISP networks for copyright infringement are not foolproof, and generally track users on a per-IP basis. DSLReports highlights a story from the UK about how an ISP highlighted the absurdity of such a system by driving around a city and downloading / pirating copyrighted songs from unprotected WiFi hotspots. They are also expensive and will increase the price of internet access for Malaysians. ISPs in New Zealand who also have a similar law are not happy about it.
3) The consumer’s rights are eroded because of a lack of due process. Because the ISP want to avoid getting fined, they may tend to be a little too trigger happy when disconnecting their users. In other countries e.g. France where similar laws have been enacted, consumers have been falsely labeled as music pirates and disconnected. After being cut off by their ISP, they face a difficult battle to subscribe to a new ISP because they have been blacklisted.
4) There are no good alternatives for consumers to download music legally in Malaysia. The truth is that the Malaysian recording industry doesn’t want you to download. In today’s day and age where almost every mobile phone can play music, they would rather you buy old-fashioned CDs. What online music download service is supported by the Malaysian recording industry? I don’t believe there are any. Please let me know in the comments if you do. With a lack of choice of legal alternatives, is it a surprise that many opt for the simple way to get music online?
The ISP Liability Act isn’t about preventing piracy, it’s about maintaining old business models for the recording industry
There are other, more effective ways to prevent piracy. Reduce the price of music. Offer affordable, legal alternatives. Put the consumer’s interest before the recording industry. Don’t cripple the digital files that you do offer with DRM. These are just some suggestions off the top of my head.
And stepping even further back, there has been no hard evidence that proves “illegal online downloads have been cannibalising the legitimate sales of music, worldwide”.
I DO NOT condone piracy
My intention is not to promote piracy and illegal copyright infringement. I am merely highlighting the flaws of this proposed law and advocate consumer rights.
I feel that Malaysian internet users should do something to express our dissatisfaction and make our views heard about this proposed law before it goes into effect. Any ideas? Do let me know in the comments.
See the comments on No more illegal downloads? at Daily Chilli
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Niki Cheong: Will the real pirates please stand up?