Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Search-engine Style Justice II

I am a linux enthusiast. And an ornery one and not the most skilled one to boot! Thus, I frequently download linux .ISO's off of the internet, perhaps even more than more competent linux enthusiasts. Typically, these ISO's are at least 690 MB, some are 2 to 4 GB. I would guess that there are forces out there who would be very unhappy with me using linux-- they'd be pretty happy if we could roll back the clock on civilization and have everyone using one company's OS.

I also surf the "Recent Photos" at in order to find cool shoreline pictures for my photoblog. I have listened to radio internet for hours at a time (I paid my dues!). My son is a frequent visitor to the pbskids and lego websites. And then my wife and I do some work-related email and access corporate intranets-- sometimes this bandwidth can get heavy.

Might our family have a valid (or at least a perfectly legal) reason to use 5 GB of bandwidth per month? Not according to Verizon. Their "unlimited" wireless plan, it turns out, is limited to "5 GB per month." That's fine and well for them to choose to ration their service in this way, but just don't call it "unlimited." But wait, it gets worse! The rationalization for the limit is a claim by Verizon that your use of 5 GB means you must be illegally downloading movies. The terms were quoted in a Cybernet article:
A person engaged in prohibited uses, continuously for one hour, could typically use 100 to 200 MBs, or, if engaged in prohibited uses for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, could use more than 5 GBs in a month.

For individual use only and not for resale. We reserve the right to protect our network from harm, which may impact legitimate data flows. We reserve the right to limit throughput or amount of data transferred, and to deny or terminate service, without notice, to anyone we believe is using an Unlimited Data Plan or Feature in any manner prohibited above or whose usage adversely impacts our network or service levels. Anyone using more than 5 GB per line in a given month is presumed to be using the service in a manner prohibited above, and we reserve the right to immediately terminate the service of any such person without notice.
See further discussion at slashdot.

What's worse is that the RIAA and MPAA asked the ISP's to do this. Cory Doctorow once said that this mindset of the studios was like that of a 19th century blacksmith. They'd be willing to sabotage the railroads and modern progress just to protect their way of life.

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