Everybody probably has heard of the Streisand Effect. Perhaps everyone except Sony Music Entertainment Germany, that is. A short summary from Wikipedia:
The Streisand effect is the way in which attempts to hide, remove, or censor information can lead to the unintended consequence of increasing awareness of that information.wikipedia
Sony Music Entertainment Germany (Sony from now on) has decided that they have an issue with a website that shares torrents of music files. Possibly rightfully so but instead of going after the site owners, the hosting or the registrar, they have chosen to take Quad9 – an opt-in DNS provider based in Switzerland – to court in Germany to have them remove the site from their DNS records.
DNS records are like the phone book of the Internet. There are lots of providers out there, ISPs, big companies, small companies. But Sony decided to point their lawyers at Quad9.
Quad9 is a global public recursive DNS resolver that aims to protect users from malware and phishing. Quad9 is operated by the Quad9 Foundation, a Swiss public-benefit, not-for-profit foundation with the purpose of improving the privacy and cybersecurity of Internet users, headquartered in Zurich.wikipedia
Quad9 summarises what Sony is doing in Germany (with ramifications globally):
Sony Music Entertainment Germany is litigating against Quad9 requiring us to block access to a website that links to a site containing files that Sony asserts are violating their copyright. We maintain that Sony’s request essentially amounts to content censorship and risks cracking the foundations of a free and open Internet, in Europe, and potentially worldwide. Censorship, in turn, can lead to undue restrictions on freedom of speech.quad9
It seems the German court has agreed with Sony’s case and ordered Quad9 to block the domain in their DNS – i.e. not resolve it. How the court and Sony believes this will stop the downloading of their artists’ music.
It’s a joke to believe this will achieve anything at all; anyone using the site would likely know, should they be in the few people impacted, that a change of DNS or an addition to their hosts file, will get past the “block”.
Introducing canna.to (or rather canna-power.to)
The offending domain is a website that specialises in sharing music. If I am honest, I’d never heard of them until this case. Requesting the blocked domain name “canna.to” actually redirects to “canna-power.to” which is hosted at the same IP address.
PING canna.to (22.214.171.124) 56(84) bytes of data. PING canna-power.to (126.96.36.199) 56(84) bytes of data.
Anyone actually looking to bypass the court-imposed block that would impact Quad9 users can see now how to bypass the blocks put in place.
The wider impact
There is a threat that a court in some jurisdiction will follow this lead and start telling DNS providers to block the lookup of certain domain names, either for users in a specific country (an inexact science) or using a particular DNS service.
This will not stop piracy.
It’s similar to the ideas to break encryption in the name of child abuse and so on. The criminals and those determined to circumvent and operate outside of laws and regulations will continue to use resources that are beyond the reach of the law and only law-abiding citizens and companies will be impacted.
There is absolutely no point in trying to break DNS to try to solve a problem. It is a classic balloon-squeeze, either the balloon sticks out of your hand or it bursts. You cannot hope to completely cover the balloon in your hand, it’s unfeasible to think that is possible. You have to go to the root of the problem and take the site off the Internet – which will not be an easy task (hence suing Quad9).
The Streisand Effect is complete as this blog entry gives anyone the information needed to get to canna.to; I’d never heard of the site, I don’t and won’t use it but given the bizarre posture of the German court, it’s worthy of an opinion.