Big Brother comes to BitTorrent

If you get some of your TV episodes and movies from BitTorrent, you could be in a world of hurt by year's end. And, maybe you will be anyway.

Lots of people download movies and TV episodes off the various BitTorrent networks. That's always been asking for trouble, but it's about to become a lot more dangerous.I get why people download some of their videos from BitTorrent. If you're a cord-cutter, there are some shows it's very hard to legally rent or buy. My wife, for one, would kill to get copies of The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, which is pretty much unavailable anywhere thanks to a complicated combination of copyrighted songs that were played on the show.Related Stories:BitTorrent movies and TV carefully out there folksBe that as it may, the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) has announced that they'll be soon out gunning for anyone they suspect may be violating music or video copyrights. In partnership with ISPs, they'll be running a system called the Copyright Alert System. This, in turn, is run by a brand protection company called MarkMonitor.The name of their game is to monitor your network traffic, with the help of your friendly ISP. Their justification for this is the usual made-up "facts" that content theft leads to "more than 373,000 jobs, $16 billion in lost wages, and $2.6 billion in lost taxes." Yeah, I'm also sure someone downloading copyrighted porn leads to cats and dogs living together.One reason I can't buy into all this is that, as TorrentFreak points out, the Center's expert who vouches that this all works is none other than Stroz Friedberg, a former RIAA lobbyist. Oh yeah, he doesn't have bias for paranoid copyright protection companies.What this means for you is that if your ISP is AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, or Verizon, they'll be watching your use of BitTorrent and letting CCI decide if you deserve some warnings, an end to your Internet service, or a full-out lawsuit.Now, as it happens, I believe that people who produce copyrighted work do deserve to be paid for their work. Hi, I'm a writer. How do you think I make my money?But the RIAA, the MPAA, and other copyright "protectors" have never done anything for content creators. They're all about protecting the businesses stuck with old, broken, pre-digital business models. Even that wouldn't be so bad, except historically they've always vastly over-reacted. We all know the stories of some poor slob who's been slammed with tens of thousands of damages for downloading a song. What you may not know is that all the powers that be have to do is to claim something is copyrighted, whether it is or not, and multiple websites can be closed in minutes or your entire digital library can be destroyed.Does that sound like paranoid fantasy? I wish. 1.45 million, yes million, WordPress websites were recently briefly taken down. Why? Because a publisher accused one of those sites of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) with a less than 300-word fragment. Oh yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Martin Bekkelund, a Norwegian Amazon customer, recently had her Amazon Kindle access revoked and her Kindle remotely wiped, deleting her entire e-book library. She still doesn't know exactly why. That's just another example of copyright insanity at work. Oh yeah, I feel really sure that the CCI and friends are going to do a good job. Welcome to the new copyright world, same as the old, where you're always considered guilty rather than that quaint idea of being considered innocent before proven otherwise.The bottom line is that the RIAA, MPAA, and allies are doing their best to frighten the heck out of everyone and anyone. I don't know about you, but they're certainly frightening me.

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