Friday, 5 July 2013

If a Bear and a Shark had a fight, who would win?

If a bear and a shark had a fight, who would win?  It's a philosophical conundrum indeed, and there are many thousands of web pages, videos and even Facebook sites dedicated to it.  In case you were wondering, opinion is almost exactly split on the matter.

But amazingly this question is relevant in an information security context.  Today, the bear is the NSA and the shark is the MPAA.

If we assume that it is true that all the world's intelligence services are gobbling up every packet that passes across their borders, then they are accumulating the greatest trove of copyright material on the planet.  What about notorious torrent sites like The Pirate Bay?  Not even close.  Every movie, TV show and music track ever downloaded by anyone is sitting on a government server somewhere, because it was in the bitstream.  The security services won't want for Game of Thrones episodes any time soon!

Is this wholesale piracy acceptable in the support of fighting terrorists?  I remember seeing an anti-piracy message on a DVD that said that piracy funded terrorism!  Ah, the irony.  I predict that soon the giant media companies will start to raise trillion dollar lawsuits against the governments for stealing all their material.  With the level of statutory damages that could be levied they could bankrupt a nation state.

The law is not simple.  It is not consistent.  And it doesn't apply the same to all of us, no matter what our politicians say.

The intersection of surveillance and copyright is murky water indeed, so at this stage I'm giving it to the shark.

Phil Kernick Chief Technology Officer

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