A Small Old-Fashioned American Hero

Its been awhile since I've written on the RIAA and ip, but a great story on how ISP's are resisting the RIAA's insane plan came across /. this mornin. We can also cast Jerry Scroggin as the everyman hero in America's struggle to retake culture and maintain our Constitutional creative rights. Scroggings ins't a lawyer, he's a small ISP operator, and he's mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore. Well, not really. He's a nice capitalist who isn't going to do the RIAA's bidding for free.

Scroggin is no radical. He respects the law and said he has a long history of cooperating with authorities to protect people from harm.

"If it was life threatening, I'm the first to jump," he said. "We've been contacted by police over Denial of Service and bot attacks. We'll have Secret Service and FBI conversations. We help if police are on perv watch."

But protecting against copyright violations just doesn't have the same urgency, not enough that that ISPs should be asked to work without compensation, Scroggin said. Here are the realities of being "HBO's free police," he said. First, when a media company demands he kick a customer off the network, there is very little in the way of proof offered that the person in question has committed a crime, according to Scroggin. Yet, entertainment companies want Scroggin to simply wave goodbye to a customer who might have signed up for a three-year plan. At $40 per month, that customer is potentially worth $1,440 to Scroggin over the life of the plan. That, says the ISP owner, is unreasonable.

Next, it's expensive and time consuming to ask highly paid technicians to chase down IP logs and customer IDs, Scroggin said, noting that it's especially difficult nowadays because it's extremely easy to spoof IP addresses.

Scroggin's argument calls attention to the difficulties of denying service beyond finances--especially IP spoofing. If the RIAA wants private industry to take up their cause, that's going to cost them. Otherwise, its like banks forcing automakers to monitor drivers in case one might use the car for a robbery. Automakers provide a vital service, and there is no widespread expectation that they must defend against misuse. So long as ISPs don't advertise "hey, we've got the fastest connection for downloading all your illegal music," I'd say they are covered. Ah, sometimes capitalism works just like you want it to.

Thinking back to yesterday's post, it seems the RIAA wrongly thought it was in the music business. It never was. Musicians are in the music business. Radio stations are quasi-in the music business. The labels behind the RIAA were in the marketing business. And so, as they continue to develop new strategies for protecting music, the net continues to develop new ways to market artists. These new ways might not be perfect yet, but that is the next big thing. That's when Nickelback will no longer be "fresh" rock. I'm thinking a Facebook driven radio station, powered by the recommendations of Friends with a "click to buy this track" button. Something.

Let's just take a moment and enjoy another chink the the RIAA's armor. And go Blue States for putting a halt to some of the RIAA's madness.

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