Universal Music and Virgin Media in Anti-Piracy Pact

Universal Music Group and Virgin Media, a British cable television and broadband provider, said Monday that they would enter a digital music partnership that breaks new ground by combining the carrot of unlimited downloads with the stick of stronger anti-piracy enforcement.

Universal, the largest recording company in the world, said it would offer its entire catalog to Virgin, which contains works by artists ranging from Amy Winehouse to U2.

The music would be free from copy protection, a feature that distinguishes the service from most existing subscription offerings. The cost of the service was not disclosed.

In return, Virgin Media agreed to take steps to reduce piracy on its network, something that other broadband providers have resisted.

Policy Design and Sympoiesis

Or failure to acknowledge or accommodate the “you’re not the boss of me!” reaction to enforcement policies: Politicians Fail to Grasp Peer-to-Peer (pdf)

In a video shot for an online news site, French legislators were asked whether they were familiar with peer-to-peer file-sharing technology. “No,” one lawmaker responded, rolling his eyes. “I speak French. Excuse me.”

While France has often prided itself on its contrarian approach to information technology — remember the Minitel? — the response summed up the ham-handedness of the latest digital initiative by the French government. The video appeared this spring, at the height of debate about a plan by President Nicolas Sarkozy to set up a government agency to disconnect persistent copyright pirates from the Internet.

The proposal, approved by Parliament last month after an earlier setback, was shot down last week by the country’s highest judicial review body, the Constitutional Council, which ruled that it violated constitutional guarantees of free speech and the presumption of innocence. Only a court of law is entitled to sever Internet connections, the council ruled.

[…] Every new effort to crack down on file-sharing seems to embolden groups devoted to an unfettered Internet.

Policy, Privacy, Security

Cyberwar – Privacy May Be a Victim in Cyberdefense Plan (pdf)

There is simply no way, the officials say, to effectively conduct computer operations without entering networks inside the United States, where the military is prohibited from operating, or traveling electronic paths through countries that are not themselves American targets.

The cybersecurity effort, Mr. Obama said at the White House last month, “will not — I repeat, will not — include monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic.”

But foreign adversaries often mount their attacks through computer network hubs inside the United States, and military officials and outside experts say that threat confronts the Pentagon and the administration with difficult questions.