Interview about DNS censorship of grooveshark.com in todays Politiken

by Tykling @ November 13, 2011 23:48

This friday I got a phonecall from Mikkel Vuroela from Politiken. He wanted to ask a few questions for a story he was writing. The story was about Rettighedsalliancen (formerly known as AntiPiratGruppen) wanting to DNS censor the music streaming service Grooveshark. The full story can be read on this Flash-ridden site: http://www.e-pages.dk/politiken/7256/ - it's on page 3 of section 2 "Kultur". The story is in Danish and due to the flashy nature of the site unfortunately I can't link to a translated version of the story.

The story explains what Grooveshark is, and it features interviews with Maria Fredenslund from RettighedsAlliancen, Jakob Willer from the Danish ISP trade association Telekommunikationsindustrien, Henrik Chulu from a Danish internet-political association called Bitbureauet, myself, and Thomas Riis who is a professor of law at the University of Copenhagen. A mix of blocking proponents, opponents, industry spokespeople and legal experts. Oh, and the paper calls me an "expert on circumventing blocking" - run a DNS server that doesn't lie to the users, and you automatically become an expert on circumventing blocking. Awesome.

The story is shorter than I'd hoped, but it still managed to get some good points across. I am quoted as saying "I don't believe anyone should be able to decide what you can and can't see on the Internet. A lot of people just want to be able to surf (the internet) freely." I said a lot more than that to the reporter, but a lot of it didn't make it in the paper. Fortunately Henrik Chulu from Bitbureauet was also interviewed. He uses the "slippery slope" argument, correctly stating that when we use DNS censorship to block more and more things on the Internet, DNS censorship will increasingly be seen as a normal tool to block stuff we dislike. Henrik Chulu also makes the very good point that since blocking circumvention is so easy, it is pointless to do the blocking to begin with.

The main subject of the story is that RettighedsAlliancen wrote the Danish courts to get them to make it illegal for the Danish Internet providers to provide access to Grooveshark. Although you can probably guess what I think about that idea, I'll still summarize my thoughts here.

FIrst of all, no, of course we shouldn't do DNS censorship just because of some copyright enforcement issues with Grooveshark. The suggested fix is way out of proportion with the violation being committed. This is every bit as stupid as when they decided to do DNS censorship of The Pirate Bay in Denmark. That blocking resulted in an increase in traffic from Denmark, due to all the publicity. This blocking, when it happens, will have the exact same effect. Mark my words.

Secondly, Grooveshark has loads of legal content. Like Youtube, Grooveshark is a community / user-driven site, the users upload the content. Funny how RettighedsAlliancen aren't trying to get Youtube blocked by the Danish Internet providers. Anyway, how can we ever justify blocking legal content ? DNS is either-or - you either block a domain, or you don't. There is nothing between those two extremes. How much illegal content needs to be on a site before it is okay to block it ? 50% ? what about 10% illegal content ? What if there is only one single illegal song on a site, and a million legal songs. Is it still okay to do DNS censorship ? These questions are all rhetorical of course, in my opinion nothing ever justifies DNS censorship.

Tags: censorship grooveshark