Say NO to Malaysia's three strikes law (ISP Liability Act)

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.

Related reading

See the comments on No more illegal downloads? at Daily Chilli

New Straits Times: Pirated DVD buyers let off

Niki Cheong: Will the real pirates please stand up?

11 Comments on "Say NO to Malaysia's three strikes law (ISP Liability Act)"

  • julian says

    not to mention that having access to the internet is increasingly important for all people.

    What would happen if one child in a family is not able to use the internet for homework because another one was banned?
    Or, a parent cannot do work from home because the child infringed the law?
    People who want to file tax returns online, pay bills, etc…

    Underlying most of the current government moves on copyright issues, and opening up areas of the economy, is a need to comply with terms for a Free Trade Agreement with USA.

    • blogjunkie says

      Great points Julian. It’s definitely a very complex issue that RIM and the ministers have to address before pushing the law through under the radar. I’m aware of the FTA clause, but wasn’t sure if that is why we are implementing this here?

    • kaeru says

      Unilateral agreements like the FTA are never for the benefit of the weaker developing countries, it’s a way for countries like the US to bypass rules set by the WTO which are multi-lateral.

      This ISP law is just one of many flawed IP laws they want to impose on us. For software developers, we would also import their flawed software patent system which we currently don’t recognize.

      It’s got nothing to do with piracy, but more with protecting their outdated business models. For software, even when you go legal and use open source software they want to choke that off too.

      For medicine the affects are worse. People will die because they cannot afford medicines.

      As you can see from the dates on the website, it’s not new. They will keep trying to push these IP laws, and we will have to keep on fighting.

    • David says

      great and good points julian..
      i think the goverment/politics people should look into the consequneces of that ban before officially announce it.
      ITS NOT THEY WANTED TO CURB THE PIRACY ISSUE IN MALAYSIA,they just want to maintain their business models for the recording industry.stupid brainless,they dont know there are sacrificing themselves(workers of the recording industry) if this law is officially announced.(unless those working in the industry have an inside job) that provide those songs to them free

  • DK says

    If the law ever gets approved, everyone should go accuse the law makers of piracy and they will have their internet cut off FOREVER…..

    • blogjunkie says

      Yes I agree! That will be my guerilla campaign to repeal the law if it goes through

  • kaeru says

    I forgot to highlight there are consumer groups in Malaysia researching and advocating for our rights with materials you can use for awareness.

    Their IP office is actually based in Kuala Lumpur.

    Standards Users Malaysia is one of these consumer advocates.

    You should ask them and share with others how the public can best help their efforts in protecting our rights.

    • blogjunkie says

      Great, thanks for sharing. I had not realized there were such groups and resources here.


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