Institutional Power

In discussing the Supreme Court’s allowing ISP’s not to disclose user’s identities to copyright owners through subpoena, Instapundit explains why automated law enforcement is a bad idea.

The brief also identifies a file entitled “harry potter book report.rtf” whose name and tiny size (1K) make obvious that it is not an illegal copy of the Harry Potter movie. Obvious to anyone who looks, anyway. But why should the record and movie companies bother to look? They’re unlikely to suffer any damages if ISPs take down the wrong files, and the consumers involved are unlikely to sue them. (In filing with the Internet Service Providers, a company representative even certified in writing “that we have a good faith belief that use of the material … is not authorized by Warner Bros. … or the law.” Puhleez.)

Much like the operators of rigged traffic cameras, they’re relying on their own institutional power — and the hassle of opposing them — to let them get away with near-criminal sloppiness. It’s bad enough that you might lose your Internet connection because of such carelessness — but you could wind up in even worse trouble.







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