|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] DNS assualt by MPAA
MPAA’s plan to break DNS in the name of fighting piracy –
exposed by the Sony hack
By Joel Hruska on December 17, 2014 at 10:01 am
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one. The content creation industry, led
by technological know-nothings and an influential group of purchased
politicians are pushing for a set of laws that could fundamentally
damage the underlying structure of the internet. Is this SOPA? The
Trans-Pacific Partnership? No — it’s information leaked from the
Sony hacks showing that once again, Hollywood is trying to carve out new
and innovative ways to fight piracy with no regard for how they’d
impact the rest of the internet.
The legal brief explores how the MPAA might pursue a strategy of arguing
in favor for DNS filtering as a mandatory requirement of the DMCA. Such
a win would be a significant shift from current interpretations of the
law, and could introduce problems that would functionally break the DNS
system. The DMCA’s “safe harbor” provision that allows ISPs
to escape criminal liability for hosting allegedly copyrighted material
depends on the ISP taking immediate action to remove access to the
infringing work before any appeals process or challenge can be filed. In
other words, the MPAA and other groups would have the authority to file
DMCA complaints to kill DNS redirection to infringing sites, knocking
those sites offline, and requiring them to file appeals and go through a
lengthy process before service would be restored.
The argument that would supposedly justify this reclassification is a
subtle one. The lawyers note that any attempt to completely disqualify
ISPs from DMCA protection is virtually certain to fail. Instead, the
line of attack would focus on the idea that ISPs are “service
providers” when they provide some functions, but that DNS and
caching services are not among them.
This is from 2012 — but apparently we’re still arguing this.
In all fairness, the legal team that drafted this document acknowledges
that such arguments are currently unlikely to prevail in the current
climate. What’s more striking is that the brief itself displays an
understanding of technology that the MPAA’s mouthpieces rarely
evince. While it doesn’t investigate the technical problems
underlying any successful scheme that allowed content providers to issue
DNS removal orders, it does indicate that the lawyers, at least,
understand how some of these systems work.
Time to move on
Stop SOPAIt’s unsettling to see that the MPAA is still trying to
find a solution that involves DNS blocking years after SOPA was
defeated. It would be one thing if DMCA takedowns were weapons of last
resort, only deployed in rare circumstances. Instead, we’ve seen
many, many cases where corporations and some individuals resort to DMCA
attacks to silence critics or to simply assert improper ownership of an
Allowing companies to order DNS links offline would drive use to
third-party services and fatally compromise attempts to secure the DNS
standard itself. Multiple technical analyses of the various techniques
proposed for achieving this filtering were posted in the SOPA
discussions of several years ago, but they remain valid (this new
briefing doesn’t specify which approach ISPs might argue for).
It’s time to stop beating a dead horse and move on. DNS filtering
isn’t going to work.
Now read: Thanks to Hollywood’s continued pressure on ISPs, I’m
now using a VPN