The Eircom Bendover24-05-2010
Word on the street, by street I mean the Irish Times, is that Eircom is now going to do a three-strike rule for illegal downloads.
While the principal behind the idea is a sound one, punish those that steal and distribute music, the practice leaves a shit load to be desired.
For starters there is no way to tell if an Eircom broadband customer is the one doing the downloading. You can't walk into a court and say you have 100% proof that Suspect A was the person that downloaded the entire Beatles collection of mp3s. Why? Well because in this day and age wifi-networks are still not 100% secure. You can have the best key in the world, you can have a hidden network broadcast, you can be using every trick in the book. Someone, somewhere, will have figured out a way to get around all of that and access the Internet using your router.
Hell my brother does it at the minute and he has the very basics of computer skills. As in 'power button turns it' basic. If a person of that level can be using another person's broadband than a little skill thrown into the mix could mean anybody is using it.
Not to mention that there is a site at the moment that can generate for you the default wifi-key used by an Eircom router. Yes, that's right, if you had one installed and the engineer said "There you go folks, you are all ready, here is the key so you can get on the web." then chances are very high he didn't bother his hole to change it from the default. You simple get the ID of the router, type it into this tool online and it will spit out that wifi-key no problem. That's how easy it is.
So how can Eircom expect to enforce something like this three-strike rule lark when they provide the most unsecured routers around? Little old grandma will have letters of cease-and-desist sent to her when it's really the three college boys from NUI Galway hopping onto her broadband and downloading music.
The bit that I really love about all this is that it's the Music Industry that is pushing for this, that has made Eircom basically bend over and expose its rusty sheriff's badge to the world. This is an industry that refuses to keep up with the times, then complains when the times start to cost it money. Only the other day I saw an LP (that's one of those really big plastic black cds to any kids reading this) out in my parent's house and on the sleeve of the album it had a warning.
You'd think that after this failed attempt at stopping the machine the industry would have sat down and said "Shit, we need to keep one step ahead of these things. Maybe we should set up a research group that watches for new media being developed and we can then start to produce products aimed at that media."
Instead what happened was digital music files came along and the Music Industry was caught off guard again. Like nobody saw it coming. Technology was becoming faster, better and cheaper and yet nobody sitting at EMA or Sony said "You know what, if we sold music that people could download that would be a good idea."
This three-strike rule is basically the cassette argument all over again. An ancient industry's last ditch attempt at stopping society from moving onwards and maintaining its huge profits by delivering old media. The battle will rage and people will complain and at the end of the day it will be for nothing, because the next gadget that plays music and can fit in your pocket will come along and the industry will once again be shocked that they didn't see it coming.
Overall this will be a bad move on Eircom's part. Basically any customer under forty (hell maybe even under sixty if the grandkids have any say in it) will move to another broadband provider. Hell right now there are at least three others that provide faster,better and cheaper broadband than Eircom. Why would you stick with a company that will now punish you, whether they can prove beyond reasonable doubt or not that you were doing something wrong. There are a whole host of other problems with this stupid act, but I am not going to get into them as others will have covered them in much better detail than me.
I tip my hat at you Eircom. For a company to make such a moronic move in a recession is impressive. Be sure to buy their book 'How to loose customers and alienate people!'.