My name is Igor Korolev, I am a correspondent for the Moscow News weekly in Russia
(http://www.moscownews.ru). I have carefully followed the news on your efforts
to block streaming ripping ability in computer media players. I agree and subscribe to the view
that improving protection of copyright materials on the internet is of paramount importance.
However, looking at this problem from Russia, there is another important side to the story that
You may know about the critical situation in Russia with political rights
and the freedom of press (see, for example, the recent report of
international non-government organization FreedomHouse, in which Russia
is acknowledged as non-freee country -
http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/fop/2007/pfscharts.pdf). Due to the clampdown
on independent TV stations, now the sole source of objective information in Russia is internet.
Journalists, who worked at the NTV (TV-stations previously closed by the Kremlin – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTV_Russia), have found a new channel
RTVi (http://www.rtvi.ru/english.html). This channel distributes its
signal via a foreign satellite and cable networks, but in Russia it is
available only through the internet video stream (http://news.rtvi.ru). Russian people
who wants to know the true information about events in our
country watch RTVi and also use YouTube and similar stream services. By YouTube, for
example, we saw reports from recent "Dissenter's March" in Moscow (it
was a peaceful demonstration against government's policies, broken down by the police
- see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissenters_March).
An additional problem in terms of content access is that due to economic conditions and
lack of modern data-channels, there is an extremely low rate of broadband
access penetration in Russia - according to market analytics, it is less
then 5%. (see http://www.trendsmedia.com/pdf/WiMAX_Russia.pdf).
Moreover, even you have a broadband channel, you often can't watch
streaming video. For example, RTVi's stream is required speed at 250
Kbit/s. I, for one, use channel with speed at 2Mbit/s from "Stream"
(https://www.stream.ru) - most popular broadband provider in Moscow,
which parent company is public listed in LondonStockExchange (LSE:CMST).
Still, unfortunately, i usually cannot see an RTVI video directly (may be the
reason of it is lack of international data-channels). Stream ripping remains
the only way out for me and a lot of other Russian people.
In conclusion, I would like to say that my colleagues and I support your effort to
eradicate internet piracy. At the same time, however, we urge you to address
the issue of stream ripping delicately, as its ban would make it impossible for people
in Russia and many other countries with human rights violations and press freedom
problems to have access to an unbiased and government-uncontrolled media. Please,
do not overlook this aspect of the problem.