Botnets give you three strikes

France is about to pass a law to allow (force?) the disconnection of a person’s Internet link after three copyright violations (update: the Cour de cassation struck down the law). Any guesses as to how long it will be before a botnet is used to make unsuspecting peoples’ computers download the forbidden data? I’d be surprised if someone doesn’t try to implement such a botnet. It would make for quite the protest if ISPs lost half their subscribers to the law. It could give rise to mesh networks with data being distributed in a modern P2P variant of the BBSs of yore. Maybe they’ll get rid of unlicensed radio frequencies next.

I think the best long-term outcome will result from having a highly successful attack by a botnet or something similar, but not because the proliferation of copyrighted material. If ISPs lose so many subscribers that they can’t sustain their business, then some pro-business groups may be forced to reconsider their pro-copyright position. If ISPs going out of business isn’t enough, maybe having no home Internet connections available will. Or, maybe having personally operated wireless mesh networks feeding these homes for free outside the control of corporations will. I should think that ought to scare the pro-copyright groups, but they haven’t considered the possibility yet; they are too reactionary. If groups like the MPAA and RIAA could see such future possibilities, they would have already realized that its time to rework their business model.

Of course, they could just accept that computers can copy any data they can read and outlaw computers. Instead, they’ll probably just try to make it illegal to have computers that run software that isn’t authorized by the government, but that will just bring on a resurgence of hobbyist made and modified computer hardware.

If such laws do become a major burden on ISPs, then it will be seen that these laws can cause a loss of profit, or business. Never having the laws in the first place would be better, but demonstrating they cause financial harm will do more to stop them from spreading further. Still, I’m not advocating the botnet approach. I just figure that the people who would and can do it are probably already thinking about doing it.


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